Doc Rivers is a swell guy who is a bit of an overrated coach. But, he said something last week on the radio that I felt was a slight to LeBron James: Calling him a “no doubt” Top 5 player in NBA history.
Why is it a slight to LeBron? Because LeBron’s gone up to #2 all-time, only behind Michael Jordan. And the case could be made that LeBron’s actually on par with Jordan, given that he’s had vastly inferior supporting casts than Jordan had, and the fact he’s played much better teams than Jordan did.
I believe Jordan was an underdog in the NBA Finals only once (against the Jazz); according to Jerry West, LeBron has never been the favorite in the NBA Finals.
Yeah, yeah, yeah – Jordan was 6-0 in the Finals. Just make sure that when you mention that, note that the final five came in a watered down NBA after Bird and Magic left. He never had a dynasty to face like the Spurs. Or the Super Warriors.
Who rounds out the Top 5 player of all-time? You’ve basically got 4-5 guys you could slot after Jordan and LeBron, and you wouldn’t be wrong: Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Let them all slug it out for 3rd. You could argue any of them.
But, Doc Rivers played against the stars from the 1980s, and it’s unlikely he’d say that LeBron was better than any of them.
In summation: Yes, Doc Rivers is right, LeBron is a “no doubt” Top 5 player. But in reality, he’s #2.