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Top NBA Players: #1 LeBron James

Oct 24, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Miami Heat forward LeBron James (6) talks to the team against the Washington Wizards in the second quarter at the Sprint Center. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE

LeBron James
Resume: 27.1 points (3rd in league), 7.9 rebounds (career best), 6.2 assists, 1.9 steals (3rd in league), 37.5 minutes (6th in league), 387 free throws made (2nd in league), 502 free throw attempts (2nd in league), 53% FG (career best), 36% 3PT (career best), and 77% FT… Team record in games played: 45-17 (1-3 without)… Playoffs: 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds (career best), 5.6 assists, 1.9 steals (career best), 42.7 minutes, 50% FG, 74% FT, 16-7 record… All-Star, 1st Team All-Defense, 1st Team All-NBA, Regular Season MVP, NBA Finals MVP

I thought about taking the day off, thanking my family and friends for reading about all 50 players I rated as well as for supporting me so much along the way, and then calling it a day. From there I would take a couple of weeks off to refresh my batteries, focus a little more on school and then come back stronger than ever to write about the NBA some more. Additionally, I’m a LeBron James fan, so anything I say will probably come off as biased. But that isn’t me. I’ve gone through the majority of a fall semester, half of an NFL season, two laptops, two cell phones, and the entire MLB postseason (without watching a single game I must add) writing about the 50 best players in the NBA. What kind of writer, and more importantly, what kind of basketball fan would I be if I didn’t talk about the best basketball player in the world? The same player who is coming off of a career defining postseason that has made fans, experts and analysts legitimately question for the first time whether we are watching someone who is better than Michael Jordan. That would make me a really poor sports fan. A bonafide scrub of a sports fan, one could say.

After 7 weeks of writing for me and reading for you, together we have finally reached the end of the countdown and the beginning of a new NBA season. Every NBA season tells a completely different story, but the biggest story coming into this season is the continuation of what concluded at the end of last season. We saw a basketball player breaking the mold and doing something that so few could ever do on a basketball court. You can’t say what LeBron James did in the 2012 regular season and postseason was Jordanesque since we never even saw Jordan do exactly what LeBron did. LeBron James morphed into a Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson hybrid and tore through the NBA landscape like Hurricane Sandy is tearing through the East Coast. He dominated in just about every way you possibly can on a basketball court, responded to the greatest criticism any athlete has ever faced with unparalleled poise, and conducted himself with incredible class when he reached the top of the NBA world. I don’t know which accomplishment is the most impressive.

I’m the biggest LeBron James fan I know, and for eight years I never thought LeBron could someday surpass Michael Jordan. From a legacy standpoint, neither LeBron, nor anyone else will likely be able to accomplish what Michael Jordan has. There is an aura of invincibility surrounding Jordan because of the titles, the clutchness,  the endorsements, and the skill. But after seeing what I saw for a two month stretch from late April until late June, there is legitimate reason to believe that LeBron James will retire as the greatest basketball player to ever play in the NBA. I could go on further, break down everything LeBron did round by round, add some YouTube videos as my evidence, and hope that my words convince you that not only am I justified in putting LeBron James #1 on this countdown, but also for saying that he could go down as the greatest to ever play this game. Frankly, if you watched the playoffs with an unbiased perspective you would feel the same way. Instead of wasting my breath I’m going to request that you watch this video if you have a spare 18 minutes. It documents everything you need to know about LeBron James’ journey to an NBA Championship. Right now I’m going to go get ready for opening night. Tonight LeBron James will receive his first NBA Championship ring, the greatest sport in the world will return to us all on a nightly basis, and I will start racking my brain, taking notes and compiling names for my top 50 list for next year.

sonnygiuliano