'LeBron Is Taking the Donald Trump Approach': James Criticized for Proclaiming Himself the GOAT

LeBron James has been accused of taking "the Donald Trump approach" after proclaiming himself as the greatest player in NBA history.

Earlier this week, the four-time MVP suggested he deserved to be recognized as the best basketball player ever for leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first title in 2016.

Read more: Is LeBron the GOAT? Not according to Chauncey Billups

"That one right there made you the greatest player of all time," LeBron said in the latest episode of More Than an Athlete, an ESPN documentary tracing his journey from humble beginnings in Akron, Ohio, to one of the most famous sports figures on the planet.

Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge said he was unsure as to why LeBron would make such a sweeping statement when his career has a few years left to run.

He then went a step forward, suggesting the three-time NBA champion's attitude was resembling that of President Donald Trump.

"His career's not over," Ainge told 98.5's "Toucher & Rich" on 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.

"Obviously LeBron is in every conversation with who is the greatest player of all-time. 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's statement is unlikely to resonate with LeBron, who has never made a mystery of his dislike for Trump and has been an outspoken critic of the president's policies.

In July, in response to the president's repeated criticism of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem to protest against social injustice, LeBron suggested Trump was deliberately using sports to divide the country.

A month earlier, ahead of the NBA Finals, the 33-year-old had claimed neither the Cavs nor the Golden State Warriors would've accepted an invitation to visit the White House had they won the title.

Kevin McHale, another former Celtic legend, did not enter the political debate but suggested LeBron's comments were "disrespectful" and misguided.

"I just think that's disrespectful honestly to Bill Russell. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Jordan," he was quoted as saying by Boston.com.

"There are just so many. Two of my good […] Larry [Bird] and Magic [Johnson], just led teams and turned the league around. You don't need to say that about yourself. Let other people say that for you."

McHale and Ainge aren't the only former NBA players to have criticized LeBron's comments. On Wednesday, Chauncey Billups told ESPN winning the title in 2016 was not enough to make LeBron the greatest player of all time.

The three-time NBA champion averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game in the series, as the Cavs came back from 3-1 down against the Golden State Warriors to win a maiden title.

Cleveland became the first team in the history of the NBA Finals to successfully overcome a 3-1 deficit, an achievement all the more remarkable as it came against a team that had won a league record 73 games in the regular season.

Billups, however, pointed out Kyrie Irving's three-pointer in the series decider was crucial in giving the Cavs a 92-89 lead with 0:53 remaining in the game.

"He [LeBron] is on Mount Rushmore but I can't put him at the top," Billups, who now works as an analyst for ESPN, said.

"There is no way I can put him at the top […] Maybe if he had hit that shot that Kyrie [Irving] hit, I could see him saying that […] but I can't go there, I'm sorry."

LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on against the Brooklyn Nets during their game at the Barclays Center on December 18, 2018 in New York City. Al Bello/Getty Images
'LeBron Is Taking the Donald Trump Approach': James Criticized for Proclaiming Himself the GOAT | Sports