Bounce pass to Tristan Thompson. Dunk. History.
LeBron James became the first NBA player to every reach 27,000 points, 7,000 rebounds, and 7,000 assists on his pass to Thompson midway through the first quarter against the Hornets Saturday night. The 12 time All-Star also passed Elvin Hayes to become the 9th all-time leading scorer in NBA history. He’s second among all active players behind only Dirk Nowitzki. He currently sits at 16th all-time in assists and is top 100 in rebounds. He also sits at #2 all-time in player efficiency rating, behind only, of course, his Airness Michael Jeffrey Jordan.
Kobe vs. LeBron was fun in 2006 but as great as Kobe was, it’s hard to argue that he had a better career than LeBron at this point. They scored about the same per 36 minutes, but LeBron got more assists and rebounds and had a better net rating. James also happens to have the highest VORP (value over replacement player) of all-time, yes even better than Jordan. Kobe does have him on the RINGZZ though.
This is not to be used as an opportunity for Kobe truthers (who happen to sound a lot like the Andrew Wiggins truthers), but as an appreciation James’ greatness. Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade may be the most aesthetically similar players to Jordan, but LeBron is the only one who has really come close to having the same impact on the game, and he’s not done yet. He’s still only 31 years old.
The LeBron vs. Jordan debate may actually intensify as James’ historic accomplishments keep coming in. Jordan was able to revolutionize the marketing of athletes and promote the game worldwide; it’s unlikely that anyone will ever be that kind of cultural force again, but it also seemed impossible for anyone to do what Mike did on the basketball court and he’s within striking distance in a lot of ways right now. The Decision was judged harshly at the time, and even now, but the rhetoric surrounding the rights of players self-determination has shifted drastically. There’s no real way to have this debate with his career still underway, and he’s on his way to another incredible season averaging 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists. If the Finals last year were any indication, he’s far from over.
We are all witnesses.