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Does LeBron Win The GOAT Debate?

It’s surreal to think that the mid-1980s are as far away from today as the Second World War was from the release of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Maybe the existential realisation that the ‘80s were forty years ago stems from the fact that, in a way, the decade has never truly left us. We still watch John Hughes’ films with enthusiasm. We still hear Bon Jovi and ABBA being played unironically. We, every once in a while, are subjected to the declaration that the decade’s fashion is ‘back’ and is being appreciated by young people.



80's Legacy Alive In 2023

The ‘80s left a legacy that is well-and-truly alive in 2023, a facet of which was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s NBA scoring record of 38,387 points - a number that was achieved on April 5, 1984 and broken on February 8, 2023. 

Lebron James was the only player who could’ve possibly broken the long-standing record, and the 38-year-old (who was born a year after Abdul-Jabbar set the milestone) achieved one of the only on-the-court targets he hasn’t already fulfilled in a game against Oklahoma City Thunder. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver and Kareen Abdul-Jabbar himself then took to the court to hand the legend the record-breaking basketball and pose for a photo. A one-minute video, detailing James’ stunning career, was also played to a jubilant and emotional audience. 

Jake Paul, Polarising Boxing

Jake Paul, Polarising Boxing

The Makings Of Lebron James

“I just want to say, thank you to the Laker faithful. You guys are one of a kind,’’ James proclaimed as his entire career likely flashed before his eyes. The 38-year-old, who has played for the Lakers since 2018, was a born superstar whose talents were recognised from a tender age. At just 16, he was interviewed by Slam magazine and was heralded as ‘‘perhaps the best high school basketball player in America right now’’. Local television companies, realising what a draw the young James was, offered to select his senior year games on pay-per-view. Though the attention was stressful, it gave James a much-needed sense of familiarity with the media. 

The 2003 Draft was to be a seminal event in the life of Lebron James as his beloved Cleveland Cavaliers  selected as the first overall pick. It was there that James showed the world what he could do. On March 20, 2005, the 20-year-old became the (at the time) youngest player to score 50+ points in the NBA. Though he wasn’t able to guide the Cavs to the NBA Finals, James remained beloved in Cleveland and his 2010 departure to Miami Heat was met with widespread disappointment. 

James would finally become an NBA Champion in 2012 with Miami, winning again the next year before making a cathartic return to Cleveland and finally winning the Finals with them in 2016. 

He would then become a champion with the Lakers in 2020, winning the MVP award in each of his four Finals-winning seasons. 



Is Lebron Now The GOAT?

The question of who is the greatest basketball player of all time will always be answered with a level of subjectivity. Old-school fans will likely pick Michael Jordan or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar himself, but James will most likely be the answer when asking more modern fans. 

There’s no right or wrong answer - and the question will most likely never be definitively answered. However, it’s important to remember that James is more than a scorer and has a lot more in his locker than simply putting the ball in the net. Like any other sport, basketball has evolved since the days of Jordan and Jabbar, and part of Lebron’s enduring status owes to a greater understanding of sports-science and on-the-court analytics. 

The 38 year-old is fourth on the all-time NBA assist list, is scoring 30 points per game at almost 40 years old, and is on-course for playing his 21st season in the NBA. Whilst Jabbar still overtakes him for NBA Championships won (6 to James’ 4) James has collected twice the amount of Finals MVP awards as the veteran has. 

Lebron James’ new NBA scoring record is nothing short of incredible, but it does remind us all that the 1980s really were a long time ago and, despite how hard we try, the decade is never coming back. 

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V: 1.35.0 All rights reserved. August 2021
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