During the interview, Ainge questioned James’ recent assertion that he is the greatest basketball player of all time — and compared James to President Donald Trump in the process.
“His career’s not over,” Ainge said on Boston sports radio Thursday. “I’d just like to — why he’s saying that, I don’t know. Maybe he thinks that that sells. Maybe he’s taking the Donald Trump approach and trying to sell himself. I don’t know.”
The Los Angeles Lakers star first made the comments on the show, “More Than An Athlete,” produced by ESPN+ and Uninterrupted. LeBron explained that his NBA Finals win with the Cleveland Cavaliers is what made him feel like the greatest player. He said he was “ecstatic” to end the city’s championship drought.
Ainge played with Larry Bird on the Boston Celtics. Ainge played against Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. And for 15 years, Ainge has spent time building a Celtics team that could beat LeBron’s teams in the Eastern Conference Playoffs on the way to the NBA Finals. He has unique insight on greatness.
“Obviously LeBron is in every conversation with who is the greatest player of all time,” Ainge said. “But time will tell. I don’t know if anyone knows who the greatest of all time is, because the years are so different.”
Ainge did make one relatively controversial confession (at least in Boston): LeBron stands above Bird.
“LeBron went to the Finals,” Ainge said. “I would have to say (he’s better than Bird), just because he was able to have more durability and play at a top level of his game for longer.”