It’s official, the old heads of the NBA heads have welcomed LeBron James as one of their own. The Athletic recently polled 101 former NBA players, asking which current player is the best player in the Association. In a league that has an abundance of under-30-year-old talent that it is bursting out of the sides, the retired players still voted James as the best active NBA player.
Last season The Athletic conducted the same poll, and Kevin Durant was voted No. 1. This time around, he fell to fourth, behind Giannis Antetokounmpo, reigning MVP Nikola Jokić, and James, the all-time regular season scorer.
I could pull out stats to make a case as to why both the Greek Freak and the Joker are the best players in the league. I could point out how the Nuggets almost won 50 games last season without both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. The Bucks have been without Khris Middleton for much of this season, but still currently have the best record in the NBA.
I would rather celebrate that James has been officially inducted into the NBA’s old head club. It comes with several privileges, possibly some one-of-a-kind slip-on grilling shoes and a bluetooth earpiece with his initials engraved on it. But the main perk is that the club will always give him the benefit of the doubt over younger players.
They’ll let James talk about how much more physical it was back in his day as an NBA player. Sure at the meetings they’ll laugh and say, “after one quarter against the Knicks in ‘92, you’d have been asking for a helmet and shoulder pads.” However, if J.J. Redick dares to argue that Ja Morant is playing in a more physical league than James did at the same age, the members will rise in unison to shoot down that new-fangled basketball logic.
James is still a great player but as much as it pains me to disagree with players whose basketball cards I’ve had since The Arsenio Hall Show was still on the air, the Lakers’ current record is proof of why James is no longer the best player in the sport. Before the trades it didn’t matter if James and Anthony Davis were on the same court or not, the Lakers still played sub-.500 basketball.
Again, the Nuggets won 48 games last season with Monte Morris, Will Barton, and Jeff Green in their top five in total minutes played.
Even though James is averaging just under 30 points per game and still shooting over 50 percent from the field while running the Lakers’ offense, it is clear he cannot carry a team to championship contention the way that he has done throughout much of his career.
He is in his 20th season. James is far past the point where his current performance should weigh heavily on his standing in NBA history. What he’s doing right now is still legendary even if he’s not the best player in the game currently.
Without question, James’ most significant achievement this season will be breaking Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s scoring record. That accomplishment will ring through the ages, but old head NBA club entrance is another level of basketball immortality. He may the only member with suit pants that stop at his knees, but the votes have been counted. The old heads speak up for James now when compared to younger players.
Enjoy your lifetime membership LeBron, but they’re not going to let you play Drake at the meetings.