LeBron James sat on the bench, all alone, with a Los Angeles Lakers towel over his eyes trying to fight back the tears. The moment arrived at the Staples Center on Wednesday night, the one he had been working for his entire life, and the result was a tribute video and emotions none of us will ever be able to understand.
With a driving layup in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets, James passed his idol, the legendary Michael Jordan, to move into fourth place on the NBA’s career scoring list. He knew this milestone was going to happen. He even tweeted before the came, “Can’t even front. This is going to be UNREAL!! Wow man.” But nobody, not even him, knew how it would truly feel until it happened.
Then, the moment arrived in iconic LeBron James fashion, and it was beautiful in every way.
You don’t have to be a fan of James to appreciate the greatness he has showcased for 16 NBA seasons with the Cleveland Cavaliers twice, Miami Heat and now the Lakers. The now-34-year-old kid from Akron, Ohio has dazzled his way into the record books with four NBA Most Valuable Player awards, three championships and NBA Finals MVPs, 15 NBA All-Star Game appearances, and too many other accolades to count.
In other words, LeBron James is special in every way, and it was only a matter of time before he passed His Airness from the Chicago Bulls on the all-time scoring list.
How would you feel if you moved past your hero for a coveted lifetime achievement? If you aren’t moved by it, why on earth did you do it in the first place? LeBron’s emotions were predictable, but still amazing to witness, although we have no idea what it took to get there.
Growing up, before the fame and fortune and even the Sports Illustrated cover when he was labeled “The Chosen One” in high school, LeBron James wanted to be like Michael Jordan, like most of us in this generation.
MJ was the gold standard, the basketball blueprint for greatness. Who wouldn’t want to be him? Jordan had the game, the marketability, the clutch factor, the rings. He had it all and changed the game forever. Yet, somewhere along the way, James elevated his game and brand to something nobody has ever seen and might never again.
Blame it on the hype, the social media era, or even the media. But for everything Air Jordan accomplished during his breathtaking playing days, James has exceeded it. Moving past him on the NBA’s career scoring list during Wednesday’s game was fitting and symbolic.
James now only trails Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, and Kobe Bryant for career points in NBA history.
Sure, Michael Jordan has more rings and played in a different era. Sure, LeBron James hasn’t been perfect all of the time. Sure, there is no real way to compare the two. However, if you cannot acknowledge the impact James has made for the game of basketball, you need some serious help and there is no way to help you.
If you ever listen to a LeBron James hater, whether it’s at a bar or on tv or online, it is the most-pathetic attempt at grasping at straws in the history of grasping at straws. The arguments are so elementary, it’s laughable.
LeBron James is the biggest badass to ever step foot on a basketball court. He’s proved it time and time again and under the biggest microscope of scrutiny an athlete has ever endured.
It’s time to take off the blinders and start appreciating what’s going on here, if you haven’t. You’ve already missed out on enough. There might never be a way to convince you Michael Jordan isn’t the greatest ever, but please recognize basketball will never be the same because of LeBron James.
And if it takes a milestone like passing Michael Jordan to wake you up, so be it.