NBA playoffs: The greatness of Lebron James

Justin English, Staff Contributor

The NBA playoffs are in full swing, kickstarted by a spectacular first round. The Warriors returned to their dominance, defeating the Spurs. The Rockets continued on their collision course with the defending champions after soundly beating the Timberwolves. The Thunders and Jazzes played a thrilling series that showcased the rising brilliance of rookie Donovan Mitchell.

Almost every first round series delivered, but one stood out above the rest.  In the seven-game series of the Cavaliers vs the Pacers, and in the current series against the Raptors, Lebron James has put forth his best case yet for the mantle of the greatest player of all time.

In the first series against the Pacers, James was truly sensational.

No other player on his team scored 20 points once in seven games. Kevin Love, his All-Star sidekick, was horrid from the field and provided little help on the offensive end. The new acquisitions at the All-Star break looked like deer in headlights, and provided no significant support.

In the Cavaliers’ four wins, James scored more than 40 points three times and dominated the Pacers in stunning fashion. His last minute block and pull up three point buzzer beater in Game 5 was one of the most memorable moments in his career. His remarkable play drew tremendous praise from even the opposition. After the game seven loss, Pacer’s star Victor Oladipo remarked, “He’s the best in the world, that’s what the best does. Now I’ve got to work so I can get on that level.”

James then transcended his first round performance in the second round against the Raptors. He led his team to a sweep against the first round seed in the eastern conference and again decimated the opposition. For perspective, in his worst game of the series, Game 1, James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists, a staggering stat line that any player except James would have considered great.

In the next two games he scored 43 and 38 points respectively, and made another remarkable game winner. With seven seconds left on the clock James traversed the court and launched a one-handed 18-footer at the buzzer, winning the game and crushing the Raptors’ hopes.

His play in recent weeks has ignited the ongoing debate of the best player ever. In the past, the one knock against Lebron was that he wasn’t clutch. Despite his tremendous talent, in the game’s biggest moments James  would disappear. Now, no such argument exists. Michael Jordan in his career made three game-winners in the playoffs. James has made two in the past two weeks and five in his career; no one has more.

Many experts have swung around in the last year or so, and a few have changed their minds in the playoffs. Paul Pierce, a long time James critic, came forward and praised him after his performances. “He’s taken his game to another level,” Pierce said. “It just seems like he’s perfecting the game. I’m seeing no weaknesses in his game.”

Dan Rathers, a long time sports expert, also recently commented on Twitter.Many think it’s a sacrilege to say Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan. I say, bring it on. I ‘ve seen many greats, in a variety of sports. @KingJames is in a league of his own. Make time to watch him play. We won’t see the likes of him anytime soon, if ever.”

While the argument is undoubtedly subjective, James’ name is firmly in the conversation. James is a once in a generation talent at the height of his powers. Any sports fan should make time to witness and appreciate his greatness before he leaves the league for good.