Hello, you. Did you hear that LeBron is now the All-Time Scoring Leader? What kind of emotion does that create in you? However you feel about it, know that sports are fun and they are supposed to be. Its entertainment and at the end of the day, it is a game.
But you the reader, are the main character of your story. And as the main character, you get to choose your heroes and villains. LeBron is a villain in many people’s story. Any accolade that he accumulates is a stain on the integrity of the game and further pushes the narrative of fabrication and overhype. I spent years not rooting for LeBron. If I rooted for him, somehow my beloved Kobe would be surpassed. In the end that effort was a waste of time. It would have been more fun to root for the guy.
So, before we get into some numbers, remember that sports are for entertainment.
Let’s have some fun!
Below is a comment I got on an older post (a guest post) about the game of basketball and how flawed the game is.
“Stats are easily manipulated. Today’s game is weak LeFlop stat pads. Everybody today gets 30 points etc. LeBron is an OVERRATED passer ( Bronny has POOR fundamentals Watch the Olajuwon lesson-0 he can barely dribble) not as good as Michael Jordan or Magic or Stockton at passing. Watch game film forget stats.MJ was a GREAT passer Numerous game film footage exists- showcasing laser like accuracy threading it in from near the 3 point arc. to udner the basket ( disguised) and faaast finding the exact right person at the right time for layup., Jordan did not hijack the team by waiting the clock to run down then at the last nanosecond passes to a great shooter to PAD his “assists” Bronny plays BAD basketball.” – TRYESTUDENTOFTHEGAME
This is a comical response and really fun! (Oh, and the name is True Student of the game. The username with the ‘U’ was likely taken… idk)
The takedown of LeBron starts with and usually ends with stats do not matter, because that is what he has complied over his career. Lots and lots of stats. So proving that stats do in fact not matter, removes him from all the barber shop arguments. It’s a simple approach. This is common argument of LeBron detractors, “stats aren’t really accurate” or as the student of the game says, “Watch game film forget stats.” Essentially, stats, the data recorded from playing the game is a flawed approach to assessing the greatness of a player. Thereby, using recorded data is disavowed and he is not GREAT.
The other so called pitfall of LeBron’s legacy is that he doesn’t have enough rings, which is the all encompassing litmus test of greatness. “Jordan has the rings! 6-0 in finals,” is what people will say. “LeBron is 4 and 6 in the finals. He is no GOAT! Couldn’t get it done”. It is unfortunate that the game of basketball and these debates do not allow for nuance of eras, rosters, how the game is played, coaches, injuries, etc. Making it to the NBA finals 10 times means nothing and losing is even worse!
However, thats not true. He is GREAT. Former competitors and legends of the game agree that he is great. No one should doubt his greatness. People may not like the way he plays. Fine. People don’t like the way Steph Curry plays and he is a joy to watch. I bring up Curry as he is the antithesis of LeBron and people dislike him. Both players are flawed and so are the fans. Irrational and emotional.
So to you, the reader, I am not sure what side of the table you are on, but I know that TRYESTUDENTOFTHEGAME is not a fan of LeBron and I am going to respond to his comments in kind. Fun!
- Stats are easily manipulated – Like statistics in general? Or specifically that you can easily manipulate if you score a bucket or not? Or about getting to the foul line? I am not sure what is really meant here. I would venture a guess that this comment is aimed at drawing fouls and I will get to free throws later. But hats off to LeBron for easily manipulating his box score for the last 20 years. He is a master of exploiting stats I guess. Here is where LBJ’s career regular season stats land all time… He is #32 on all time rebounds, #9 steals, #1 turnovers, #1 scoring, #4 assists…. I am curious which one he so easily manipulated? Stats don’t matter? A win is a stat and that matters, right? But that must be the ONLY stat that matters….
- LeFlop stat pads – I assume this is claiming that LeBron flops to get to the free throw line. Free throw stats below.
- Everybody today gets 30 points etc. – It is easier to score in the NBA. Rules have changed, defenses are “softer”, there is no true rim protector. But make no mistake, players have gotten immensely better on the offensive end. Traditional positions are meaningless and 1-5 need to be able to stretch the floor. The evolution of the player, the game, and three point line cannot be overstated. It’s a completely different game from 10 years ago. However, lets not forget one simple fact, in order to score 30 points, players have to be on the court. So I don’t know about “everybody”, but yes, attaining 30 points in a game is much easier for today’s NBA players. Think about how everything in the game has changed! Coaching, strength and conditioning, health, advanced analytics, player tracking, travel, load management, the money, all of it. IT IS NOT THE SAME GAME! And that is part of it. The game has to get better. Athletes are better. Coaches are smarter. The broadcast is even better!
- LeBron is an OVERRATED passer – He is 4th all time, behind John Stockton, Jason Kidd, and Chris Paul, who are all Point Guards. So no, he isn’t. You don’t accidentally land in the top 5 assists of all time as an overrated passer.
- [LeBron is] is not as good [of a passer] as Michael Jordan or Magic or Stockton at passing. Watch game film forget stats. – Watch game film of LeBron. Okay. Here is 5 minutes of just the 2021-2022 season. But the main argument is that is not a better passer than MJ, Magic, and Stockton and we have to ignore stats (how convenient to always say lets ignore the data!!!). Okay. Whatever man, we are comparing all time greats to him? Fine. Not a better passer than those guys…. which means? He is OVERRATED? Stop it. LOL. And data, stats, absolutely matter. This is such a lazy argument. If they didn’t organizations like the NBA and other leagues wouldn’t invest in collecting more and more data. Ever heard of artificial intelligence and machine learning? Study up son. Data/Stats matter.
- MJ was a GREAT passer Numerous game film footage exists- showcasing laser like accuracy threading it in from near the 3 point arc. to udner the basket ( disguised) and faaast finding the exact right person at the right time for layup., – Ok. This isn’t a zero sum game. IF MJ is a better passer what does that mean? MJ is better? Fine. As Kareem said in his letter after LeBron passed his mark, “It’s as if I won a billion dollars in a lottery and 39 years later someone won two billion dollars. How would I feel? Grateful that I won and happy that the next person also won. His winning in no way affects my winning”. LeBron’s greatness is built off of those who came before and it doesn’t detract from them.
- Jordan did not hijack the team by waiting the clock to run down then at the last nanosecond passes to a great shooter to PAD his “assists” Bronny plays BAD basketball. – Hold on. LeBron plays BAD basketball? Mr. Trye Student of the game… study up. Read or listen (Kerr, Rivers, Stevens, Popovich) to head coaches talk about LeBron.
OK. I promised to get to free throws. Let’s get to it. LeFlop, LeBum, LeBoob.
Below are the top 10 players by FTM in the regular season, taken from NBA.com. While Lebron is #4 on the list, the next two charts illustrate a lack of dependence on the free throw line. LeBron is an attacking forward and gets to the cup (see the final chart). Getting to the hoop is his game so ergo more free throw chances.
Getting to the Free Throw line is a massive part of the game and scoring, which last time I checked scoring is crucial to winning games. So to clown LeBron for trying to draw fouls is criminal and illustrates a naive view on how the game “should be played”.
Comparing Jordan’s last five years in the league free throw percentage of points to LeBron’s last five years looks like this:
- Jordan: 19.7% (96-97), 24.0% (97-98), 19.1% (01-02), 16.2% (02-03)
- LeBron: 18.5% (18-19), 15.6% (19-20), 15.8% (20-21), 15.0% (21-22), 15.9% (22-23)
At the end of Jordan’s career, he used the free throw line to get his. LeBron has done the opposite.
Comparing LeBron’s usage of the free throw line to generate points in the lowest compared to the top ten players of free throws made.
The deliberate change and improvement to LeBron’s game is really illustrated here.
Finally, here Kareem’s letter in reflecting LeBron breaking the all time scoring record. … “His winning in no way affects my winning.”