Cavs GOAT LeBron James is ranked #2 all-time in ESPN’s NBA Rank

Former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James lifts the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)
Former Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James lifts the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy. (Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The best player in Cleveland Cavaliers history, LeBron James, was ranked as the second-best NBA player ever in ESPN’s NBA Rank.

I really can’t enough about the greatness of LeBron James. James is obviously the best player in Cleveland Cavaliers history, and his 11 seasons with the Wine and Gold were nothing short of spectacular.

In his two stints with the Cavs, James has had averages of 27.2 points, 7.3 rebounds, 7.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 0.8 blocks in 39.0 minutes per contest.

James is also the leader in so many categories in Cavs history, as evidenced by him ranking first in total points, assists, rebounds, steals, PER, win shares and of course, minutes played, as displayed by Basketball Reference.

James, who is now a Los Angeles Laker and of course had a four-year stint with the Miami Heat, when he won two rings with Dwyane Wade and company, is firmly in the discussion as being arguably the best NBA player ever, too.

The way James has always had his imprint all over games, and with his strength/speed/quickness/athleticism, has been perhaps the most unstoppable driver in the history of the game. James’ IQ has been especially rare, too, and his passing tool box/vision and team defensive instincts have always been outstanding, along with his longevity.

All of that seemingly factored into James being slotted in as the second-best NBA player of all-time according to ESPN in a recent ranking of the top 74 players in the history of the Association. Writers involved that gave a rationale for players included involved ESPN’s Andrew Lopez, Tim Bontemps, Dave McMenamin, Ohm Youngmisuk, Royce Young, Tim McMahon, Eric Woodyard, Nick Friedell, Andre Snellings and Kevin Pelton.

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Not surprisingly, Michael Jordan was ranked #1, and I completely understand their reasoning there, as MJ went six-for-six in the NBA Finals in the 1990’s, and was the key reason for the Chicago Bulls establishing themselves as a dominant force.

In terms of the others in the top 10, ESPN then had the unstoppable force in Shaquille O’Neal at #10, the late Kobe Bryant at #9, Tim Duncan at #8, Larry Bird at #7, one of the most dominant bigs ever in Wilt Chamberlain at #6, and #5-3 was Magic Johnson, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

In terms of more current players in notable positions, ESPN had a two-way dynamo in Kawhi Leonard at #25, Kevin Durant, one of the most talented scorers ever, at #14, and Stephen Curry, as they highlighted as being the best shooter ever (which is definitely the case), at #13.

Anyway, while it is seemingly a never ending debate in terms of who is the greatest ever between James and MJ, who is regarding by most including ESPN here, as the NBA’s GOAT player, this further solidifies LeBron’s place as clearly a top two player ever.

I understand he’s had only three championships to this point in his career, and that he’s just 3-6 in the NBA Finals.

That being said, not having LeBron in the top two is just silly to me.

The really unmatched durability he’s had (outside of last season, really) in his near-17-year-career, coupled with his versatility, basketball IQ, and him being the best athlete in the history of the game, in my opinion, stamps that.

Plus, with his ability to make his teammates so much better even early on, as former Detroit Pistons “Bad Boy” Bill Laimbeer previously emphasized, and with James being a four-time NBA MVP, three-time Finals MVP, 16-time All-Star, six-time All-Defensive team member and with him being first all-time in postseason win shares, LeBron is surely in the top two.

Him being the main reason the Cleveland Cavaliers came back from a 3-1 deficit against Curry and the Golden State Warriors, who were fresh off setting the regular season record for wins in 2016, also helped stamp James’ place as one of the best players in NBA history, too. That is the only time a team has battled all the way back from a 3-1 deficit in terms of the NBA Finals as well.

Furthermore, let’s not dismiss how in the current NBA landscape with more teams and with max seven-game postseason rounds, that James appeared in the Finals for eight straight seasons from 2011-2018. That’s nothing short of GOAT-like.

He also could seemingly get back to the Finals in coming years with the Lakers. I’d also imagine if the current 2019-20 season, which is currently on a novel coronavirus-induced hiatus still, does eventually play out to some extent down the road, that James could very well get another ring. He was even leading them in that way this season pre-hiatus, even at 35, as McMenamin stressed.

Anyhow, whether you’re a Jordan or LeBron person, most seemingly are in that discussion as far as the NBA’s GOAT player. I mean no disrespect to Kareem, Russell, Magic and/or others.

They just didn’t have the athleticism and overall package LeBron or Jordan have had.

Next. Cavs legend LeBron James is all over ESPN's best individual seasons' list. dark

Props to you for at least putting the best player in Cavs history, James, in the top two, ESPN. I’m a Bron being the GOAT person, but I certainly acknowledge the MJ argument.