While everyone has their opinion on whether LeBron James is the greatest NBA player of all time or not, the Los Angeles Lakers superstar made it clear in a recent interview with ESPN that he did see himself as the greatest after leading the Cleveland Cavaliers to a come-from-behind championship win over the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. However, a number of NBA legends didn’t take too kindly to these comments for one reason or another, as noted in a report from Fox Sports.
On Monday, former NBA stars Chris Webber, Isiah Thomas, and Kevin McHale discussed the topic of James’ remarks on NBA TV’s Players Only, where they were all in agreement about LeBron being out of line for publicly proclaiming himself as the greatest of all time. Per Fox Sports, McHale saw the comments as “disrespectful” to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and other great NBA players who came before him and added that James should wait for people to call him the greatest instead of making the claim himself.
“It’s disrespectful to other players who came before you that were great, great players. You can’t compare eras… I didn’t like the way that sounded,” McHale continued.
Thomas followed up by citing the example of his old on-court rival Jordan, who was hailed by many fans as the greatest, but never said the same thing about himself, “even though he may think that.”
As quoted by Fadeaway World, Webber took a “lighter” approach to the matter than the two ’80s legends, acknowledging that he had never heard any all-time NBA icon self-proclaim their greatness, but also advising James that greatness does not involve “answering haters.”
“You don’t have to respond to anybody. You’re one of the best. Stay humble,” Webber added.
According to Fox Sports, James’ controversial comments were made on the most recent episode of his eight-part ESPN series, More Than an Athlete, where he discussed his 2016 NBA Finals stint with close friends and business partners Maverick Carter, Rich Paul, and Randy Mims. During this episode, James recalled that he realized he was the “greatest player of all time” soon after the Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2016 NBA championship, giving the city its first major sports championship in 52 years as the Cavs came back from a 3-1 deficit against the Golden State Warriors.
Despite the criticism from some of the NBA’s most recognizable names of the past few decades, LeBron James did have his share of defenders, including former Cavaliers teammate Dahntay Jones. On Tuesday’s episode of Speak for Yourself on Fox Sports, Jones said that James had every right to say what he did, given how times have changed since the heyday of Michael Jordan and other all-time greats.
“I think [Jordan] was following a protocol of the past, but now with social media and everything that we have going on right now, people are not afraid to speak about themselves. And if you’re the greatest of all time, you have to believe it first,” said Jones, as quoted by Cavaliers Nation.