Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James bothered some people when in a recent video he labeled himself as the "GOAT," or greatest of all time.
James pointed out his 2016 NBA Finals triumph over the 73-win Golden State Warriors vaulted him to GOAT status. Keep in mind, the Cavs fell behind 3-1 in that series and needed a Draymond Green suspension in Game 5 and a historic 3-point shot by Kyrie Irving in Game 7 to pull off the incredible comeback.
The reaction to James' comments have been intense, as you'd expect. Boston Celtics legend Kevin McHale clearly wasn't a fan of what James said, and he let his feeling be known Monday night on NBA TV.
“I think LeBron is a great player," McHale said. "I just think that’s disrespectful, honestly, to Bill Russell. What did Bill Russell do? He won every time. He said, 'Fellas, you want to win? Come with me and we'll go on the floor.' That's what this game is all about. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Michael (Jordan). There's just so many (players). Larry (Bird) and Magic (Johnson), led teams and turned the league around. You don’t need to say that about yourself. Let other people say that for you. ... I love the kid. I think he's a great player. I think he's been great for the game, but let other people say that for you. To me, it's just disrespectful for a lot of people who came before you that were great, great, great players. You can’t compare eras … I didn’t like the way that sounded to me.”
Chris Webber, Isiah Thomas & Kevin McHale respond to LeBron's comments saying he was the "GOAT." pic.twitter.com/O9uN6hGCBy— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 1, 2019
It was a little surprising for James to call himself the GOAT. The best players rarely give themselves that label. Michael Jordan hasn't come out and explicitly called himself the best ever. In fact, in a 2009 interview with ESPN's Michael Wilbon, Jordan also said having the GOAT label is disrespectful to the legends he never played against who came before him.
Michael Jordan on the 🐐 tag. pic.twitter.com/dAGfxRcX4Z— The Undefeated (@TheUndefeated) January 2, 2019
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, considered by many people as the best player in NFL history, even said the GOAT label makes him feel "uncomfortable."
McHale mentioned a lot of great players, two of which have a strong case to be ranked ahead of James in the GOAT debate, and they would be Jordan and Abdul-Jabbar. Jordan went 6-0 in the NBA Finals and won series MVP each time. He played 35 NBA Finals games and never faced elimination once. James is 3-6 in the NBA Finals and has been swept twice and beaten in five games two other times.
Abdul-Jabbar is a six-time champion, the league's all-time leading scorer and has a record six MVP awards.
James certainly has a good case in the GOAT argument, but it's hard to disagree with much of what McHale said. One thing we know for sure is this debate isn't going away anytime soon, and James could strengthen his side of the debate with another championship or two for the Lakers.
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