Is Lebron James one of the best players of all time, or is he simply the most overrated player of all time? To be sure, Lebron James is a physical specimen who is at the top of the athletic food chain, even in the era of freakish athletes. At 6′ 8″ and roughly 260 pounds of muscle, I would venture to say that even some professional football teams would want him to play for them (I know the Browns would). That said, there have been few players who have been hyped from an early age the way Lebron was, and the media sure makes a lot of money with his success. Therefore, it is beneficial to the media for Lebron to be good. So, does the media overhype him, which would lead to a distorted public opinion of his athletic abilities? Is Lebron overrated? Or, do people just hate on him because he is the “King”, and when you are a king, you are a target.
I was recently on a forum where people were criticizing Lebron in many different ways, all to justify their opinion that he is overrated. I personally did not think any of it made a lick of sense, but then again, I am a biased Cleveland fan. Anyway, on that forum, some people cited his style of play as one reason for his skewed rating. He utilizes his size and speed, they say, to draw fouls en route to the basket (although you could argue that he does not get nearly the same amount of calls as other players). These folks argue that this style of play does not demonstrate real skill, and is simply a cheap way to play the game of basketball. Therefore, according to them, he is an overrated basketball player.
Another argument I found on that forum were from the people who say that Lebron James gives up when things do not go his way, which is not something an all-time great does. The common reference for this criticism was his last game as a Cavalier (the first time) when they lost to the Celtics in the playoffs. Other greats have been labeled as all-time greats because, no matter what the odds were, they found ways to win. The common reference for this is Michael Jordan’s “flu performance” in Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz. In short, Lebron gives up when things do not go his way, and this equates to him being overrated.
Finally, there were the conspiracy theorists on this particular forum discussion who opined that his greatness is simply an illusion created by the media because it is advantageous to them. This conspiracy affirms that superstars are good for business in the NBA. Further, since Lebron James was primed as an NBA superstar by the media before he even graduated high school, the NBA and the media has encouraged Lebron-centered teams, which in turn has led to the high statistical numbers needed to promote him as one of the all-time greats. In the end, the NBA and the media have combined to create the marketable superstar that is King James, and they have made a ton of money as a result. According to this argument, the appearance that Lebron James is one of the greatest players of all times is simply a clever illusion created by people who cannot afford for him to be a failure. Therefore, he is overrated.
For whatever reason people feel that Lebron James is overrated, there are indeed counterpoints. He is a freak of physical nature, and he is smart to utilize that. Wilt Chamberlain did, and rarely do you hear of people using that as a knock against him. Also, Lebron did come through in many big games, which ultimately resulted in Eastern Conference and NBA Final Championships as well as multiple MVP awards. Most recently, he hit a game winning shot against the Bulls in Game 3 of the second round of the 2015 NBA Playoffs and has played tremendously through the Eastern Conference finals (article written before Finals). This, of course, contradicts the point where people say he gives up in big games. Finally, maybe the media is simply drawn to him because he is the greatest player of the current generation.
I think few would argue that they would want Lebron James on their team. To do so, I think, would simply throw up a flag of envy. That said, people just might have a point about him being overrated in terms of one of the greatest players of all time, let alone in this era. Whatever the case, the fact that he is often compared to Michael Jordan means that he is at least worthy of the discussion. Regardless, people have polarizing opinions about Lebron, and this is a place where you can vote on those opinions.
For those interested in investigating Lebron’s statistical numbers, follow the link to landofbasketball.com. There, you can quantitatively compare Lebron’s performance statistics to Michael Jordan’s, the man who few argue is one of the greatest, if not the greatest of all time. This is valuable data that will help you make your vote on this fun poll.
Finally, there has been a major fad lately where people from all over the country are stuck on comparing Lebron to Michael Jordan. Perhaps that is because so many people believe Michael is the best of all time, and if people are going to talk about Lebron’s all-time status, then it only makes sense to compare him against Michael, even if that type of comparison truly is an impossible task. And so, for some side fun, and to give you some visuals where you can qualitatively give Lebron the “eye test” in comparison to MJ, we invite you to watch a tribute to Michael Jordan with the inspirational “Be Like Mike” song as a background, and then watch a tribute to Lebron. It is clear in these videos that the two players have completely different styles. Does that mean one is better than the other?
If this article interested you, check out another one of our fun debates: What is the most unbreakable sports record?