Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James celebrates after scoring in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Sacramento Kings, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017, in Cleveland. The Cavaliers won 101-95. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Since he arrived in the NBA, LeBron James has been compared to the game’s greatest players; when you are nicknamed “King”, there is little surprise in there.

It gets worse when there is a self proclaimed “Chosen One” tattooed across your back. So yes, the insane scrutiny could be partly blamed on LeBron and he has shown during his time, he revels in it.

There is the constant chatter on Championships rings that wouldn’t go away but this season much has been focused on his super production line while playing heavy minutes for Cleveland Cavaliers who are still waiting on Isaiah Thomas to recover and assume Kyrie Irving’s role.

For his stature in the game, producing 28.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 8.7 assists falls in line with expectations of a future Hall of Famer.

However, what catches the eye is that such marks have been recorded thus far in a season James will celebrate his 33rd birthday. This number usually represents the time players decline; the likes of Karl Marlone won MVP titles past their 30th birthdays but Malone et al didn’t play as many games as LeBron has and had the benefit of playing in a slow paced league compared to the break neck speed the modern game is played.

Following James’ epic leadership getting Cleveland on track for another Finals appearance, interest is picking up ahead of which opponent he is likely to face in June next year. Defending Champions Golden State Warriors are right up there as the odds on favorite.

Playing the Cavs in the finals will be the fourth time in as many years the two teams clash for the Larry O’Bien Trophy.

Houston Rockets have been so good following the addition of Chris Paul, the team looks the best in the league to stop Golden State.

Aside: Should they fail to do so, the presence of Paul could be vital in a reported chase for James once the season is over.

San Antonio Spurs are on the verge of having Kawhi Leonard return to the lineup after missing half of the year with injury. The Cavs can only feature in the finals once it wins the Eastern Conference which should be difficult considering Boston Celtics personnel upgrade and play. To be the best, the best have to be beaten and when it comes to the NBA, Michael Jordan is the standard. While Jordan won six Championships in his career, LeBron has half of that tally in seven final appearances.

LeBron could end his career without matching that mark but what could endear him to all and win the debate over who is better could be down to the quality of opponents he faced during the most crucial part of the season. Isiah Thomas of Detroit Pistons, Joe Dumars, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Patrick Ewing, Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley, Kevin Johnson, Shaquille O’ Neal, Penny Hardaway, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, Malone, John Stockton and Reggie Miller. These are names of legends Jordan beat en route to having a flawless record at the finals in his career. This is an enviable mark few in the sport would even dream of achieving and only the likes of James and Kobe Bryant can match or in LeBron’s case even better.

James has played against San Antonio’s legendary teams twice in the finals which featured future Hall of Famers Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Duncan is the greatest Power Forward and Leonard is on track to be a better defender and scorer than Payton, Dumars and Thomas. After beating and losing against Golden State, LeBron has faced the greatest three point shooter in history in Stephen Curry, a top 3 shooters of all time member in Klay Thompson, the best scorer in the game in Kevin Durant and undersized Forward who can guard any player on the court from Point to Center in Draymond Green.

For what is worth, Golden State’s “death lineup” members could end up in Springfield once their careers are over should Andre Iguodala stay on the court more to unleash his vice like grip on opposing players. The first player to average a triple double after Oscar Robertson- Russell Westbrook- has fallen to James when Oklahoma City Thunder faced Miami Heat in the 2012 Finals with James Harden acting as a Sixth Man. Dallas Mavericks winning team in 2011 had Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki-two future Hall of Famers with the latter being the sixth greatest scorer in NBA history.

As great as LeBron’s finals opponents list is, there lies a scary part where the continued greatness of such players further raises the profile of King James over Jordan’s.

By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter


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