Posted February 11, 2014

Heat’s LeBron James: I will be on NBA’s Mount Rushmore of greats ‘for sure’

Ben Golliver, Larry Bird, LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Miami Heat, Michael Jordan, Oscar Robertson
LeBron James

LeBron James won his fourth MVP award at age 28. (Jim McIsaac/Getty Images Sport)

There’s no doubt in LeBron James’ mind that he will claim a spot on the “Mount Rushmore” of NBA greats by the time his career comes to a close.

The four-time MVP told NBA TV’s Steve Smith that he is certain that he will go down as one of the league’s four greatest players when he decides to call it quits.

“I’m going to be one of the top four to ever play this game,” James said. “For sure. And if they don’t want me to have one of those top four spots, they better find another spot. We’ve got to bump somebody. Somebody got to get bumped. That’s not for me to decide. That’s for the architects, to chisel somebody’s face out and put mine up there.”

James, 29, is a 10-time All-Star, a nine-time All-NBA selection and a five-time All-Defensive selection.

Asked to name his top four all-time NBA greats, James rattled off three names quickly before weighing his options on the fourth name.

“Four NBA greats — I would say, obviously, the easy three, that we all talk about in our league: Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson,” he said. “I would say my fourth, wow, this is so tough. The greatest players of all time, that I would like to see on Mount Rushmore. This is not fair. This is not fair. You know how many great players there is? Oh my god, Oscar Robertson. Those are my four.”

Notable snubs from James’ list: Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Jerry West, Shaquille O’Neal and Hakeem Olajuwon.

These statements mark a tone shift for James, who ducked questions about his legacy at 2013 All-Star Weekend in Houston.

“How do I want to be remembered when I’m 50?” James asked rhetorically. “I’m 28 years old, I ain’t thinking about that.”

Later that same day, though, James acknowledgd that his goal was to supplant Jordan — who he called his “inspiration” and one of his childhood heroes — as the greatest player of all time.

“I want to be the greatest of all time,” James said, adding: “As my talent continued to grow, as I continued to know about the game, appreciate the game, continued to get better, I felt like I had the drive, first of all, the passion, the commitment to the game to place myself as the greatest of all time, the best of all time, however you want to categorize it. I don’t do it to say I’m better than this guy or that guy. I do it for my own inspiration. I inspire myself. When I go out on the floor, I want to be the best of all time. That’s how I help myself each and every night.”

James, the youngest player to score 20,000 career points, will soon crack the top 25 of the all-time scoring list. He also possesses two championship rings and two Finals MVP awards.

Hat tip: Eye On Basketball

182 comments
albertanthony83
albertanthony83

My Top 10 would probably be as such...

01. Michael Jordan

02. Bill Russell

03. Wilt Chamberlain

04. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

05. Magic Johnson

06. Larry Bird

07. Oscar Robertson

08. LeBron James

09. Julius Erving

10. Hakeem Olajuwon

By the time his career's over, I can see him maybe reaching the #4 or #5 spot, but I think he still has a ways to go. If he keeps going at this rate, he could realistically lead all players ever in scoring, assisting and MVP trophies, as well. It'd be hard to keep him off the list, if he does that. But for now, I'll stick with my four. MJ's the best of all time (6 for 6 in the finals, c'mon now!), Russell's got 11 championship rings and won a title in sum'n like 85% of his career (and could possibly be the best blocker of all-time, but we don't know that for sure), Wilt has ridiculous numbers (100 point game? 50 rebound game? Unofficial 27/28 block game? 0 games fouled out? The rules changed for him!!) & Lew Alcindor's the most prolific scorer in the game to date (leads all others). How can you argue LBJ over any of those at THIS point in his career? You can't. Maybe at the end of it. We'll just have to wait and see.

OK
OK

1. Bill Russell

2. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar

3. Michael Jordan

4. Earvin "Magic" Johnson

pier
pier

Mt. Rushmore is a Native American holy site
I believe the top 4 players of NBA history have to be chosen by these categories
1) Players of modern day (last 25 years, the game has never been more competitive with the amount of talented players, information, and strength training)
2) a) Greatest Player of All Time
b) Greatest Defensive Player of All Time
c) Most Dominating (FG %)
d) Greatest Point Guard
e) Greatest 3 Point Shooter of All Time (3Pt FG%)
1) Michael Jordan (Hands down, didn't have a full career, 37pg or something in a season great defensive player) 2) Hakeem Olajuwon (close to all time blocks in a season, best defensive last 25 years?, all around player) 3) Shaquille O' Neal (Close to top FG % but I'd tell him to change his free throw shot) 4) Magic Johnson (Close to top assists a game in a year, great defensive player, etc.) 5) Steve Nash? (Most consistent high scoring 3 PT FG %, Stephen Curry is catching up quick) Shaq would get bumped from my top 4 'cause he can't make a free throw
Lebron isn't the greatest, isn't a point guard, isn't a 3 point shooter, isn't the greatest defensive player, and isn't the most dominating...he has to get better....
For those that do not agree...Russel for Olajuwon, Chamberlain/O. Robertson for O' Neal
If it was Streetball which doesn't have as many rules, in my opinion it is more creative, funner to play, and outdoors, we would have a new batch of Greats. Hell if my feet didn't give out I would have qualified!

MikeJonez
MikeJonez

LeBron gets most of his points from teamates assists i.e., lobs, fastbreaks, etc... He is also not known to be 1 on 1 lock down defender whereas most of his blocks come from behind and as a 2nd help defender. Most of LJs shots come from speed & powering  himself to the paint Not much skill needed there. Also, let's not forget, he moved to Miami to form a power team with DWade Bosh Ray Allen and other great shooters. DWade and Bosh made Lebrons game so much easier for him to score. Lebron your Mt Rushmore chances ended the moment you decided to for a "Big 3" power team. 

TooTall21
TooTall21

I have read a bunch of comments and nobody has mentioned John Stockton or Karl Malone.  Besides being great players for a longer amount of time than most, they were both good teammates.  You never heard anything bad about them.

JD17
JD17

He's got a long way to go. Here's saying he won't get there. He's inferior to many, if not all mentioned in the article.

KevinAustin
KevinAustin

The truly great ones don't have to tell you they are great. The truly great ones don't use Nike money to take a lower NBA salary to run away from your home town team to build a superstar team on the beach.


JimWisdom
JimWisdom

And if I expanded it to 5, include Oscar. And 6 - Larry Bird.

JimWisdom
JimWisdom

There is NO WAY he can make one of top 4 of all time. No one doubts his abilities and that he is the best player today, but beat out Russell, MJ, Bryant and Chamberlain? We are talking about payers who not only impacted the game game tremendously, but had rule changes as a result of their participation. I love LeBron, but not on the NBA Mt. Rushmore, especially if you limit it to 4 personalities as is depicted on the current Mt. Rushmore.

adthomas1982
adthomas1982

Another squad to cause some fits,  Wes Unseld, Lonnie Shelton, Reggie Miller,  Moncrief, Dominque Wilkins, and Garry Payton, with Shawn Kemp, Adrian Dantley, Walter Davis and Joe Dumars beat some people tooooooo

adthomas1982
adthomas1982

Could Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Dr. J, David Thompson and Dennis Johnson, with Vinnie the Microwave, David Robinson, Marques Johnson and Gus Williams beat some people

tflanster
tflanster

Oh, I forgot to mention: Who was a great "team player" better than Captain/Coach, player than Russell? Hell, who was even close. There's more to the game than scoring. 

tflanster
tflanster

Wilt and Russell not # 1 and 2? Jordan for sure and Kareem. Which of those would James knock off? Russell and Wilt would stuff James Jordan would out score him. What about Jerry West too? Robertson? There's the top 6. No doubt James is great but I'd take Russell or Wilt any day. 

i2sing
i2sing

The conversation begins and ends with Wilt. Retired 45 years ago and still owns 90 NBA records (quadruple double double?) Never foul out. Averaged 48.5 minutes a game. They didnt keep blocked shot records but you could add 10 more records. Reportedly blocked 27 shot against the Pistons. Why? old B/W footage. Not many left who play with and against Wilt in his prime. Not only that he could be the most dominant athlete of his time .Bball, track, volleyball,waterpolo, weight lifting. Wiki Wilt and look for an interview with Sonny Hill of Phila who played with him. All of these others but Russel are good but only in the A.C (After Chamberlain). era

DSM
DSM

No student of basketball would consider Shaq, Akeem or Jerry West one of the 4 greatest players ever--although all were great players.  In fact it is unlikely that both Shaq and Akeem would rank among the 4 best centers--which of Kareem, Russell and Chamberlain would you drop?

Frank14
Frank14

4. hmmm...


Chamberlain

Jabar

James

Jordan


so far.

KevinClugston
KevinClugston

LeBron probably can't even name the faces on the real Mt Rushmore.

PackersFanNumeroUno
PackersFanNumeroUno

Shaq could have been the greatest if he would have had better work ethic.

adthomas1982
adthomas1982

The problem is the list will change for everyone, if we had to the Mount Rushmore all over again today would those same four Presidents be up there, I bet that debate would rage on for years, just like this.  The fact is Lebron has proven to be everything he was suppose to be, not many live up to that and not even Jordan had those expectations.  Only Kareem could argue to be the greatest, they changed the rules for him, he won 6 titles also, has 38,000 plus points and has the greatest shot ever, you knew it was coming and still couldn't stop it. I am always torn who the best is so I pick players by position: PG: Magic (I. Thomas 2nd), SG: Jordan (West), SF: Big O (LeBron right now 2nd) though he did average triple double 2 years in a row, PF: Big E Elvin Hayes (Tim Duncan 2nd), C: Kareem (Russell 2nd), which he could also be argued to be the greatest of all-time, with the rings, coaching, etc.

Steve Phillips
Steve Phillips

It is amazing that the best players to ever play in their respective sports really never had to sell themselves and try to convince others of their greatness. They were just great without arrogance and self-proclaimation. Outside of Ali who was a great showman and ambassador for boxing.

As good as Lebron might be there will always be at least half a dozen better and he ain't no Ali!

OK
OK

5. Larry Bird

6. Wilt Chamberlain

7. Oscar Robertson

8. Tim Duncan

jshiver15
jshiver15

@MikeJonez Your post is absolutely ridiculous.  You're saying that it takes no skill to go full speed at a basket, with force, and put the ball in the hole?  Well hell, why don't ALL players do that then if it's so easy?!

 

AriGlick
AriGlick

@KevinAustinJshiver15, you said it. People like KevinAustin don't do any research and just base these opinions of Lebron on blind assumptions that other people have told them. "The truly great ones don't have to tell you they are great." Yeah, he didn't have to tell us... he just dominated the playoffs 6 years in Cleveland on horrible teams, including making the NBA finals, something Durant, Kobe, maybe even MJ could not do, his performances were legendary. 

He changes teams in free agency, and has won 2-3 NBA championships making all 3. Nobody needs him to tell them anything to know he's already one of the best of all time, far better than Kobe Bryant. His game speaks for itself, MJ's stats are not even comparable to LBJ, so if he wins 5-6 titles, he's the best ever, period.

jshiver15
jshiver15

@KevinAustin I guess MJ, Shaq, Kobe, and Chamberlain were all just kidding when they said they were the greatest.

AriGlick
AriGlick

@JimWisdom To say that Kobe Bryant is a better player than Lebron James at this point, is foolish. LBJ shoots almost 60%, far more assists, more rebounds, more blocks, way better defensive player. His impact on teams is far greater than anything Kobe was capable of doing. Kobe on the Cavs teams that LBJ made DEEP playoff runs with on his back, would have fizzled out, demanded a trade and been a .500 team. 

Please do not compare Kobe and Lebron. And Chamberlin is just too far back in time to really compare or analyze. If some human being was like Lebron back then, it's hard to imagine that Chamberlin would be "better" at basketball. At the end of the day, you have to factor in just who's the BEST PLAYER, and to do that without bias of NBA history and a strong attachment to the history and these players, is tough. But all bias aside, to put Kobe Bryant in the same sentence as Lebron individually is just crazy.  

DSM
DSM

@JimWisdom Kobe is a great player, but what rules were changed as a result of him or MJ?

tflanster
tflanster

@i2sing  Russell played against Wilt a lot of times. Pretty much a stand-off. Oh, and which center's teams won a lot of NBA championships? Wasn't that Russell's Celtics? 

JomoDaMusicMan1
JomoDaMusicMan1

@i2sing  ;  what did u mean, Russel was good only in the after Chamberlain Era.  Did u not know, Russell was actually in the NBA when Wilt was still a Kansas JAY HAWK.  

DSM
DSM

@i2sing I believe he was a great, great player, but having watched him play, am not overly impressed with his never fouling out nor averaging 48. minutes. I am not sure either helped his team, because you can avoid fouling out by not playing aggressively and can play every minute by not playing hard every minute. Some argued that he vanished in his Lakers game 7 vs. Boston in the 4th quarter because he had 5 fouls.


He was prone to some "I'll show them" counterproductive behavior--when he decided to lead the league in assists it meant not shooting often, which hurt his team. How was he so passive on offense in games 5 and 7 vs. the Knicks when Reed was hurt, but so dominant in game 6?


And what did he really accomplish in the other sports with independent documentation other than being a solid track athlete? As with his claim he would beat Ali in a boxing match, he did a lot of bragging. He did nothing in any other sport which would compare to Bo Jackson being an all star in both, or Jimmy Brown being the best collegiate running back and lacrosse player.

JomoDaMusicMan1
JomoDaMusicMan1

@DSM   Actually, Akeem Da Dream, was the most versatile center to ever play the game.  He really jump, hit the fade away jumper, has most blocked shots on record, but of course anybody who knows the game, know that Wilt and Russel actually have the most blocks but records weren't kept then.  Akeem could dribble and really move, played defense like Russell & Wilt.    The (10) greatest centers:  Wilt, Akeem, Kareem, Russell, Moses, Shaq, Ewing, Nate,  McAdoo, TIED FOR (10)  Walt Bellamy, Artis Gilmore, & THE BIG E 

DSM
DSM

@Frank14 Chamberlain over Russell? You could spend days arguing that, but I think most would pick Russell. James over Russell, Bird, Magic, Duncan. Roberston and Bryant? Not quite yet, I think, but he wins another title this year?

WendellW
WendellW

@KevinClugston It must be great for your own personal psyche to assume that the only thing LBJ is good at is basketball.

JomoDaMusicMan1
JomoDaMusicMan1

@adthomas1982   U picked  Isiah behind Magic at point guard but the greatest of all point guards is probably the BIG O, he was not a small forward Elgin Baylor was the premier small forward of that day

OK
OK

9. Hakeem Olajuwon

10. Shaquille O'Neal

11. Moses Malone

12. Julius Erving

AriGlick
AriGlick

@jshiver15 @MikeJonez hahaha yeah... It's pretty ridiculous. I was going to reply then realized how behind these opinions of Lebron are. They are just people that don't study the game and repeat what other people who are un-educated about the game say. Lebron is arguably the most skilled player of all time. His defense is flawless, 1 on 1, and as a team defensive player. He transformed terrible Cav teams to be the best defense in the league. His passing is probaby the best in the league as well. He's a 6"8" 270 pound freak athlete with the court vision of Jason Kidd and Magic Johnson. If he wasn't athletic, he'd be more like Magic Johnson, and MikeJonez would talk about how incredibly skilled he was as a passer and gifted. The irony of the way people analyze him is strong, the world we live in... We need to appreciate this guy for what he is. He's not like MJ or Kobe in the arrogance department, he's on a higher level from a team and being humble perspective, let's root for him.

JimWisdom
JimWisdom

@DSM @JimWisdomI didn't mean to imply ALL had rule changes, but others have not included either Russell or Chamberlain which in my mind is ridiculous. Chamberlain was the one that had rule changes put in since no one following professional basketball had ever seen anyone like him. Shaq is considered the strongest player in the 'modern' era, but I would have loved to have seen the two of them battle. Kobe belongs because not only is he statistically right up there he has many rings. MJ is MJ. Russell has as many championships as all the others combined, and he was maybe the only center who could stand up to Chamberlain. I believe Wilt thought otherwise, but Russell could rebound with the best of them. I was lucky enough to see all of them play, and I got to see some terrific center battles between Russell and Chamberlain. You don't see that today. Oscar, whom I have a rough time leaving off, invented the triple double as an average! And I felt terrible to not include Kareem. Unfortunately, that is already 6 players. Now let's see where LeBron is in the conversation when his career is over. He may in fact have won his last championship and just slipped in last year thanks to Popovich stupid move taking out Duncan and Allen sinking what some thought was an illegal 3. The discussion is both interesting and amusing since LeBron can say what he wants. If he has the career that I think he will have then the discussion will become heated.

DSM
DSM

@JomoDaMusicMan1 @DSMAkeem was certainly a great player. I would not place Ewing, Thurmond McAdoo or your others above David Robinson or, if you feel he is a center, Tim Duncan. Not sure about McAdoo over Parrish or Dwight Howard or Bob Lanier--and possibly Unseld and Cowens.

adthomas1982
adthomas1982

@JomoDaMusicMan1 @adthomas1982  Noted, Elgin was nice.  My all time not on the list and drugs derailed his career was Michael Ray Richardson who played for the Nets and late Dennis Johnson who started for the Sonics and finished with Celtics.

OK
OK

13. Jerry West

14. Kobe Bryant

15. John Havlicek

16. The Queen

armstrongantoine
armstrongantoine

@KevinAustin @AriGlick  ooo sorry to spoil ur opinion because he actually took a huge pay cut and his salary from nike isnt based on the fact he went to miami wade isnt team nike or bosh so how much does that make sense lebron is top 3 hands down. Whether u like it or not respect is due where respect is due this is coming from a MJ fan. All though this nba is less strong minded it has become a new brand of athletic basketball and on a athletic stand point lebron may be one of the best if not the best. When you think about it in terms of the best lebron is a 6-8 270 monster who has a strong upperbody and a tremendous court vision as well as a highbasketball iq. Lebron sees the court better then most pg do he looks for others shots before his own. He is a complete player who if he works on his jumpshot a little bit more can be more of a nightmere an outside shot and one of the best finishers. And i am only 13 but i have watched a few tapes to know lebron is a oscar robertson with magic qualities and a MJ way of thinking although not quite like my boy MJ in his killer instict his ability to read the defense and use his arsenal of skills to counter the defense put him up there. Which to be honest kinda puts him ahead of mj in a few catagories in assiting and seeking his teammates shiots first as well as defensive anchor and his fastbreak dominance as well as upperbody strength he has changed so much since entering the NBA from skinny to one of the strongest and i believe this is also the transformation KD must go through to turn the corner and to contend for the title. 

jshiver15
jshiver15

@JimWisdom @DSM I know this gets beat into the ground, but had Russell or Chamberlain played in the 90's or today's league, then they'd be mediocre.  They were so successful because there was literally no one in the league, other than each other, that could match them athletically.  

JimWisdom
JimWisdom

@DSM @JomoDaMusicMan1Cowens is an interesting study. He could rebound and outlet a pass faster than anyone I have ever seen. I saw a game where he rebounded the ball and spun in midair to outlet to almost mid court before landing on the floor. And run. Of course he had to with Heinsohn as the coach. And I don't know if I ever saw anyone do what he did as a 6'9" center.