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LeBron: “I want to be the best of all-time. It’s that simple.”

Oct 27, 2012, 8:58 AM EDT

LeBron James AP

He has said this before. Seemingly every year.

When he said it as he entered the NBA and in first few years in the league it came off as the hubris of an immature player and person. Because it was.

LeBron James is not an immature player anymore. The shiny championship ring he picks up next Tuesday from David Stern is evidence of that. His newfound maturity lets him tap into his game unlike never before. But it doesn’t change his goals he told Tim Reynolds of the Associated Press.

“I want to be the best of all-time,” James said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s that simple.”

And the ring may bring him a step closer to that lofty — and possibly unattainable — goal. But he says it doesn’t change anything.

“Not really, honestly,” James said. “I haven’t had much time to really just think about what actually happened. At the end of the day, there’s still going to be people that say, well, he’s not going to be able to win two. He’s not going to be able to do it again.”

The comments on this post will fill up with plenty of “he can’t do it, he can never be Jordan.” I’ll let go for a minute the debate of whether Jordan is really the greatest player of all time (he clearly is in the conversation, but your splitting hairs with Magic Johnson and Bill Russell and others), my point about LeBron remains unchanged from a couple years ago even after “The Decision:”

We can’t define his legacy at this time.

Until he decides to walk away from the game in five years, 10 years or whenever he decides it is time, we cannot say what his place in history will be.

We will look back at LeBron as maybe the most physically gifted player ever to lace up the sneakers — 6’8”, 250 pounds, and with the speed and court vision of a guard. But what he did with those gifts and how much he got out of them, we can’t set in stone for a 27 year old.

His goals remain the same. As they have since Sports Illustrated deemed him “The Chosen One.” But how close a more mature James can get to that goal remains to be seen.

  1. rodge1 - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:05 AM

    He can do it. This guy is a hybrid between Magic & MJ (without the gambling & weird mustache)

  2. BigBeachBall - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:30 AM

    One of the goodest maybe…

  3. fatbaby81 - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:33 AM

    At least not yet.

  4. fightnamish - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    he will never be remembered as the best. MJ never had to leave Chicago to win and he also didn’t lose his 1st two championships. LeBron has also quit too many times late in games. oh yeah and Delonte West slept with his mom. just saying

  5. charlutes - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:46 AM

    Earth to sports writers, look deeper for new narratives. There is more to basketball than Lebron James’s ego. Tim Duncan has 4 rings, Lebron has one and Duncan didn’t have to leave San Antonio and team up with Kobe to win them. Shut up and play, and earn your legacy Lebron, because the more you talk about how great you are the more immature you look. You don’t ask for the legacy you want like an entitled baby. what a joke, I wish a real man was blessed with this guys skill set.

    • cullenand99 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM

      Tim Duncan had great teammates like David Robinson (Albeit he wasn’t in his prime, he still contributed), Manu Ginobili, and Tony Parker to help him win those rings. Hell, even Stephen Jackson was better than any player LeBron had on his Cleveland teams. LeBron was given the task to win a championship with Larry Hughes, Drew Gooden, Donyell Marshall, Damon Jones, and Sasha Pavlovic. Nobody should be expected to win a title with that type of talent, or lack thereof.

      • soopreme - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:22 PM

        Totally agree, other than lebron, that cleveland team was the least talented team to ever make a finals.
        I’m not sure if Jordan could have carried that cleveland team to the finals.
        I don’t care who you are, you have to have players to win a championship.

      • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:43 PM

        If anything it enhances Lebron’s legacy. That is without a doubt the worst team in history to make it to the NBA Finals.

      • philtration - Oct 28, 2012 at 12:55 AM

        Don’t know if Jordan could have carries that Cavs team to a title but he would have NEVER punked out like LeBron did.

    • hehateme2 - Oct 27, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      You can’t put Tim Duncan in the same conversation as LeBron. I liked Duncan fine but it’s not close as far as talent.

      • borderline1988 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:20 PM

        You simply can’t make this only about rings. Lebron is a 3 time MVP, and clearly a much more talented player than Duncan. He destroys Duncan in every career statistical category besides for rebounding and FG% (which is what you would expect when Duncan is a 7 foot PF).

        You’ve gotta believe that if Lebron was able to make the Finals with the Cavs and their terrible roster…he probably would have made it every year with the Spurs teams and their HOF coach.

  6. dwirk - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    He’s just now entering his prime and as long as he can stay healthy and surrounded by the RIGHT pieces I think he can easily be the Greatest

  7. asublimeday - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    He deemed himself the chosen one. See: his tattoo

    • WatchThis - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:35 PM

      No, he didn’t. He latched onto the name he was given in his youth by the drooling mouths of the basketball machine.

    • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:44 PM

      See he was 16 years old. Let me know if you never did anything dumb when you were that age. I sure as hell did……….

  8. 1972wasalongtimeago - Oct 27, 2012 at 9:57 AM

    All the detractors ever wanted was for LBJ to play and prepare like he wanted to be the best of all time. Well now you got it. Once again, Thank you Pat Riley!

  9. dwirk - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:06 AM

    Now to be fair not even Jordan would have won a ring with Larry Hughes, Boobie Gibson and bunch of college rejects. Now that he’s surrounded by the right pieces lets see what happens

    • cantonbound13 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:11 AM

      He did win with stiffs like Bill Wenninton, Luc Longley, Cliff Levingston, BJ Armstrong, Craig Hodges, Trent Tucker, & Jud Bushler playing significant minutes.

      • bucsnsincity - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:58 AM

        Yea way to leave pippen off that list…

      • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:47 PM

        Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen (50 greatest) & Dennis Rodman along with the greatest player in Europe at the time Toni Kukoc………..

  10. cantonbound13 - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:15 AM

    The LeBron hype machine is way out of control. He’s handed 1 ring in a lockout shortened season & he’s being talked about, by morons, as the greatest ever???? He’s got a career losing record in the finals (6-9)!!!! Kobe has 5 rings & counting!!!

    • bucsnsincity - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:59 AM

      How many future hall of farmers has Kobe played with? Rings don’t determine greatest ever that’s a team accomplishment!

      • cantonbound13 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:14 PM

        Sorry bucs, but Wade & Bosh bring a lot more to a team than just Pippen.

    • WatchThis - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:39 PM

      Yeah, and there’s a number of guys who have more than 5 rings who tell you it’s not about how many rings you have.

      10 Sam Jones
      8 John Havlicek
      8 Tom Heinsohn
      8 K.C. Jones
      8 Tom “Satch” Sanders
      7 Robert Horry (you’ve heard of him)
      7 James Loscutoff
      7 Frank Ramsey

    • progress2011 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:40 PM

      Haterbound13,

      1. The Heat had the same preparation time, as everyone else. So, they had no advantage, since everyone had the same number of games etc.

      2. LBJ was clearly the best individual player, based on stats, League MVP, Finals MVP, NBA Champion and Leader of the Olympic squad that won Gold.

      3. Kobe has 5 rings, 3 of those rings he was Shaqs Bee-ouch ! Gasol Won one, when kobe started pouting and quit. So he really can only be given credit for one, where he was ….The MAN.

      4. LBJ is currently playing with 2 players, that may make the HOF. BUT kobe has played with ATLEAST 5. To name a few Shaq, Horry, Fisher, Malone, Payton, Gasol, Horry etc. etc. etc

      5. Kobe played for the greatest coach in the history of the friggin league. LBJ had Mike Brown and Spo.

      6. kobe has been in the league 7 more years than LBJ …But LBJ has 2 more MVP’s

      7. Explain again, why kobe only has 1 MVP and out of the 5 rings, only 2 Championship MVPs

      8. MJ, was undeniably The Man and MVP on all 6 of his ! As was LBJ on his one….so, far !

      So, if you can’t understand the FACTS, put here before your face, then you sir are the MO-RON !

      • sasquash20 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:51 PM

        What did Kobe win with Malone and Payton? Is Fisher and Big shot Bob Horry really HOFers? I agree James is and will be better then Kobe but some of your facts are just dumb and lame.

        Red Auerbach is the best coach ever. He actually built the greatest team ever. Jackson had the Bulls, and picked a Shaq and Kobe Lakers squad. Not even close. Oh and if you don’t think Pat Riley wasn’t helping the Heat last season your crazy.

    • 1heatedtoombrayduh - Nov 1, 2012 at 7:41 AM

      cantonbound you cant just talk about the rings bc Robert horry has more rings than mike and kobe (not combined) with 7 lol and honestly to everyone above, what is wrong with a player saying he wants to be the best ever? and with your statement about the “lockout shortened season” i believe everyone played the same amount of games-yeah thought they did..

  11. rtfinch - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Lebron james: 1-2 in NBA finals. Michael Jordan: 6-0 in NBA finals…. i rest my case

    • cantonbound13 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      Michael never lost more than 2 games in a Finals series. LeBron lost 4 in a row twice!!! There is no comparison!

      • WatchThis - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:41 PM

        Except Jordan didn’t win his first until a year older than Lebron. That’s to say it’s too early for the comparison based on rings. Obviously, it’s not too early to discuss skill level and potential.

    • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:49 PM

      So if Lebron wins 6 titles is he better because he went to 8 NBA Finals???? Your logic does not compute.

  12. dalucks - Oct 27, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    Stop it. He is not the best player of his era. I guess the idiots at Nike will print some shirts saying Lebron is the greatest and a lot of young, nieve, ignorant people will buy and believe the propaganda. I will never be with them.

    Call me when Lebron scores 100 points in a game like Wilt, averages a triple double in a season like the Big O, becomes the all time leading scorer like Kareem or win 11 championship for the highly racist city of Boston like Bill Russell.

    Until then, he is not great. Just a fraud in the middle of a marketing plan selling propaganda.

    I am not hating. I have seen “GREAT” players and Lebron James is not 1 of them.

    • asuthyo - Oct 27, 2012 at 12:10 PM

      I didn’t realize Wilt, Oscar, or any of those players you mentioned played in Lebron’s “era”

      • sasquash20 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:36 PM

        Douche bag. Guess what one day other douche bags (probably your grand kids) will question James era. It happens in every sport. Humans evolve. Had the big O been born today he would be bigger and faster then he was. He would still dominate in any era he played in.

      • sasquash20 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:39 PM

        What era is that? The one where the league is totally watered down? The one where stars get calls? The one where players flop to get calls? The one where when players dribble they can palm the ball and not get called? You can poke holes in any era.

    • bucsnsincity - Oct 27, 2012 at 12:36 PM

      I find it very unlikely that you actually saw wilt, big O, and bill Russell play! Unless you’re talking about YouTube videos and if so your whole comment is a joke! You may not agree that lebron is the greatest fine, but to say he’s not GREAT is laughable.

    • sasquash20 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:31 PM

      Couldn’t agree more. James is talented no doubt, but he has a long way to go before he gets mentioned with the greatest ever.

      To all you douche bags who bring up what era a guy played in your off base. These players still dominated their eras plain and simple. Had they come along today they would also dominate. They where the biggest, fastest, ect of their time. Players today will one day have their era questioned as well.

      Without a doubt Wilt is the best ever. Yeah he only has 2 rings, but tell me how many teams MJ faced like Russell’s Celtics that had 8 HOFers on it. I’ll tell you none. And James will never face a team as good. Russell’s Celtics are the best teams ever and believe me I hate them more then any team ever.

  13. fanz928 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    Lebrons team in ceveland sucks san Antonio had a balance team with 3 stars
    Kobe had gasol Dallas has dirk and kidd lebron never got a good team before the decision and he had a coach who couldn’t draw out offensive plays

    • cantonbound13 - Oct 27, 2012 at 12:00 PM

      Gasol??? Really? You should be banned for that comment.

      • cullenand99 - Oct 27, 2012 at 1:09 PM

        Gasol won Kobe his 5th ring. Remember that Game 7 vs Boston? You know, when Kobe choked? 6-24 I believe it was…

      • sdlakerfan - Oct 28, 2012 at 3:02 AM

        I recall Ron Artest being the leading score in game 7 vs the celtics and playing stellar physical defense against Paul Pierce. Kobe would not have won without Gasol that season, he did choke in game 7, but he deserves credit for the titles with Shaq too. They were an awesome duo who won 3 in a row.

        To the point, Big O was a great player but only one one mvp, Lebron already has 3 and it doesn’t seem like anyone is close to his ability at this point. He has seemed to mature. Miami seems like a strong favorite to win it again this yr which i hate to say as a laker fan. I expect he’ll deserve to be regarded as one of the top 5 ever for sure and quite possibly higher than that.

  14. moseskkim - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:24 AM

    Lebron is an amazing player. Moving teams is his prerogative and shouldn’t take away how great he is. Rather it shows Cleveland’s incompetency. They tried though. If he keeps this pace up and wins 4-5 more championships, he’ll be right there in the convo. He’s gonna play more inside and post up and even is trying the sky hook. It’s hard to work your hardest when ur already the best and most gifted. He keeps working and i think he will go down as one of the best ever.

  15. miamatt - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:40 AM

    Isn’t this the goal that every player should have? Say what you will, but Lebron gets it at this point. He’s fighting for his place in history. Who knows how it all shakes out, but he is highly motivated and playing for a first-class organization. Anybody who thinks what happened through the playoffs was flukey really doesn’t have a leg to stand on.

  16. steviep23 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:49 AM

    The GOAT is 6-6.

  17. dwirk - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:50 AM

    How quickly people forget just how talented those bulls teams were. Lets not forget that before pippen Jordan had zero and I repeat zero playoff series wins. Lets also throw in the fact not did he have pippen he had the best euro player in kukoc and the best rebounder of his era in rodman btw which is also a hall of famer. Jordan fans think by watching YouTube videos that it was Jordan and a bunch of scrubs. He had the best shooters in Paxon and Kerr.

    • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:40 PM

      Exactly. Not to mention the inexplicably of retiring for 2 seasons and somehow being able to play professional baseball. Do you think someone could pull that stunt today? Lebron has a bad personality while Jordan was hated by his teammates and he was (is) a degenerate gamble that probably cost him his Dad’s life. I am a Jordan fan and agree he is the greatest of all time but people are delusional over a frickin TV Show. It was a mistake but it is hardly deserving of the continued backlash. The people with the blinders up are missing out on the most unique talent ever to play the game of basketball.

  18. dwirk - Oct 27, 2012 at 12:13 PM

    If titles trumped all then Bill Russell is the GOAT. Game, set match

    • sasquash20 - Oct 27, 2012 at 11:43 PM

      He is up there but not the greatest. Greatest team ever in NBA history though.

  19. bleed4philly - Oct 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    The heat are going to win 70 games this year… before the all star break. Stay thirsty my friends.

  20. charlutes - Oct 27, 2012 at 1:43 PM

    Lebron is a great player and obviously a clown in the personality department. Personally I think its a shame that he’s setting an example to the world that says, hey if you are physically gifted you can say whatever you want and expect people to return your arrogance with praise.

    • WatchThis - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:45 PM

      Dang, every player should want to be the best of all-time, or dream about it. If you don’t, you’re low-end. But, Lebron saying it and dreaming about it makes him an arrogant clown because…well, because he’s in that actual discussion at 26 years-old. He didn’t put himself in that discussion. His play did.

  21. charlutes - Oct 27, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Michael never lost more than 2 games in a Finals series. LeBron lost 4 in a row twice!!! There is no comparison!

    exactly.

  22. deiong - Oct 27, 2012 at 1:54 PM

    hes a quiter, and takes the easiest way out to a ring and fails, and gets help by the commish for one. the guy wont even make the top 5, with that bad a tarnished name.

    • liamj55 - Oct 27, 2012 at 2:52 PM

      This comment above makes absolute 0 sense. You should drop the ei from your handle.

      • miamatt - Oct 27, 2012 at 4:54 PM

        LMFAO!

      • deiong - Oct 28, 2012 at 9:14 PM

        tats pretty discusting somone would have that on their mind when thinking about lebron.

  23. slippyal2 - Oct 27, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    I don’t know if he can become the greatest, but I see him being mentioned with Bird, Magic, Kareem, Wilt, and Russell. The guys who I believe are just below Jordan. If this goal burns him like it did with Jordan and Kobe can push him to new heights.

  24. butterfacesareok - Oct 27, 2012 at 5:04 PM

    Want in one hand and crap in the other and see which one fills up first! Cant be the best when you have no integrity of the game

  25. hypermog - Oct 27, 2012 at 5:46 PM

    Here’s what LeBron needs for GOAT consideration:

    * Two 3-peats (a la Jordan)
    or
    * 5+ peat
    or
    * 4-peat plus Space Jam 2 outperforms the original (adjusted for inflation)

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