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LeBron James says when he’s done he’ll belong on NBA’s Mount Rushmore

Feb 11, 2014, 9:06 PM EDT

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It’s one of those bar stool sports debates — name the Mount Rushmore for your team. Who are the four players/coaches/owners/whoever that had the biggest impact on this franchise? ProFootballTalk did it with every NFL team. You can certainly do it with the NBA as well.

LeBron James sat down with NBA TV  for an interview that airs Feb. 17. In it LeBron talks about Dwyane Wade and that first season in Miami, how Kevin Durant pushes him plus much more. The NBA sent out a little preview of the discussion.

Then Steve Smith asks LeBron to name the NBA’s Mount Rushmore, which is not easy.

“I would say obviously, the easy three, that we all talk about in our league is Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and you got Magic Johnson. And I would say my fourth… this is so tough, the greatest players of all time that I would like to see on Mount Rushmore… this is not fair. You know how many great players there is?

“Oscar Robertson.”

Then comes the question that will ignite hours of sports talk radio: When his career is over, will LeBron be up there?

“Yes.”

Why?

“Because I’m going to be one of the top four to ever play this game, for sure. And if they don’t want me to have one of those top four spots they better find another spot on that (mountain).”

LeBron refused to be drawn into the “who are you bumping off?” discussion.

First off, what do you expect LeBron to say? You don’t get to be a player of LeBron’s status without some ego and drive; he should say he wants to go down as one of the all time greats. If you asked Kobe about this mid-career, what do you think he would have said? What about Jordan? Bird?

I will say once again what I have said since LeBron first signed in Miami: We can’t accurately judge LeBron’s legacy right now. Right now he’s basically playing for that legacy (and a whole lot of cash, to be fair) — how many championships, MVPs and all of it factors in. Mostly the titles but there is more than that. For example, if LeBron goes to Rio with Team USA for the 2016 Olympics and wins gold, he will be the only basketball player ever with three golds, how would that factor in?

LeBron will go down as one of the most physically gifted players ever, without a doubt. He’s a guy that’s worked hard to improve his weaknesses (remember his jump shot the first few years?) and has accomplished a lot. But his overall legacy? Ask me when he’s been out of the game for a few years, that’s when we’ll have perspective on all of it.

  1. antistratfordian - Feb 13, 2014 at 2:02 AM

    “Whoever you want to put up there [on the Mt. Rushmore of the NBA], you might as well start chipping away his face. [LeBron], in my opinion, is the greatest small forward that’s ever played this game and he will be in the discussion with anyone who has ever played this game when it’s all said and done. He’s an incredible basketball player – a complete basketball player – with no weaknesses and no flaws.”

    – Mark Jackson, February 12, 2014

  2. romneycareupheld - Feb 13, 2014 at 4:34 PM

    If MJ or Kobe had said this, ever, during their careers, nobody would care or disagree because it fit their persona and they had titles to back it up. LeBron doesn’t say stuff like this often but you’re all killing him anyway. He’s got the rings, MVPs, gold medals, records, respect of his peers.

    In fact, many knock him for not having a killer instinct but this sure sounds like killer instinct to me.

    • macka4 - Feb 16, 2014 at 6:00 AM

      I agree, don’t like the way they (Miami) joined forces, but the he is the man today, hands down. Only Durant is anywhere near him in the galaxy. Tired of the Kobe propaganda. Very much so.

      • hudgeliberal - Feb 18, 2014 at 6:31 PM

        Propaganda? No,not where Kobe is concerned. Yes,some fans may be a little crazy,but as far as my 48 years of playing and watching basketball,Kobe Bryant is right below MJ,then you have a host of other players that the youngsters today seem to overlook because they only see grainy videos or short/shorts etc. Wilt,Kareem,Oscar,Bird,Magic,Moses not to mention the 90’s greats Malone,Barkley,Ewing,Drexler etc. I like to see that LeBron is finally showing some competitive fire. However,imagine if in last years All-Star game if Lebron had blocked Kobe on consecutive shots..do you think Kobe would have just played it nonchalantly like Bron?? No,he would have died trying to get back at him..therein lies the major difference between Lebron and guys like MJ,Kobe,Bird and even Magic,they would kill you to win a game of checkers,Bron just doesn’t have that same sort of killer instinct. That is not a knock on Bron,who is definitely a top 20 all-time player,however,its just a matter of personality types. Some guys will do anything to win while others play only for fun. Big difference where that goes.

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