Sports

Is LeBron the GOAT? Chauncey Billups Dismisses Claims Winning the 2016 Title Made James the Best Player in NBA History

The debate over who between Michael Jordan and LeBron James deserves to be labeled the greatest player of all time is one of the most prolific topics of discussions in the NBA world.

Both players’ merits and achievements have been analyzed ad nauseam, yet the debate lingers. Traditionally, Jordan nor LeBron did not make cases for themselves, preferring instead to skirt around the edges of the debate.

Read more: LeBron James to miss a number of games with groin injury 

The latter significantly changed his approach earlier this week, when he claimed that inspiring the Cleveland Cavaliers to their maiden NBA title in 2016 made him the greatest player in the game’s history.

“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 Ohio to global superstar.

The claim was never going to go unchallenged—and Chauncey Billups swiftly dismissed it.

“I love that he [LeBron] has done that [proclaiming himself as the best ever],” Billups, who now works as an analyst for ESPN, said on Wednesday.

“He is on Mount Rushmore but I can’t put him at the top. 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.”

The Cavs were widely considered the underdogs when they met the Warriors in the 2016 Finals, which would prove to be the second of four consecutive Finals contested between the two teams.

Not only were the Warriors the defending NBA champions, but they had also set a league record by going 73-9 during the regular season.

Golden State took a 2-0 lead, which they later extended to 3-1, before the Cavs became the only team in the history of the NBA Finals to successfully overcome a 3-1 deficit and the first team since 1978 to win Game 7 on the road.

As Billups pointed out on ESPN, 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.

At the same time, it’s hard to downplay LeBron’s influence in a series in which he averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists per game.

Cleveland’s first NBA title was LeBron’s third and there is little doubt the city’s 52-year wait for a major professional sports title would have continued had it not been for him.

As for the debate over who between LeBron and Jordan deserves to be recognized as the greatest of all time, that will also continue.

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

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