I can’t remember when the ‘best player in the world’ conversation started, but whenever it was, it didn’t stop. Nobody ever gets tired of it. Especially now that there are so many players with legitimate claims to the throne. Everyone has different criteria. It speaks to skill preference perhaps more than anything else.
If you poll 10 people right now and ask who the best basketball player in the world is, you might get six or seven different answers. Giannis Antetokounmpo. Nikola Jokić. Stephen Curry. Kevin Durant. Joel Embid. Luke Doncic. Perhaps Kawhi Leonard is primed for a return to the conversation. Have I forgotten someone?
Oh right. Lebron James.
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A lot of people feel that while LeBron is still an All-NBA-level player, he’s fallen off the top tier. Giannis, who may get more votes than any other player in this informal poll, is not one of those people. In fact, Giannis believes LeBron, who was probably the unanimously best player in the world for a decade, remains in a league of his own at 37.
“It’s interesting to me how LeBron is still doing [in] one of the best forms [of] his life and being the best player in the world and still being at 18,” Giannis told Marca Basket. “It’s really interesting. I want to know how he does it. He’s been consistent for 18 years. He is always here. He keeps popping up. That’s incredible.
“He obviously gets credit, but I think we need to give him more credit. Doing it for 18 years, folks, that’s hard. And hopefully, hopefully I can be there. Hopefully I can do that for 18 years, 20 years. That is the goal.”
you heard it Best Player in the World. You can disagree with Giannis, but it’s not crazy. Last season, LeBron averaged over 30 points, eight rebounds and six assists at 62 percent true-shooting, and if you want to put it all down to stat-hunting, take that nonsense elsewhere. No, he’s not the player he used to be. He can’t get any shot at all times, and his defense hasn’t been elite in a while.
But LeBron’s own bar isn’t the point. If you’ve had to win a playoff series and given LeBron a proper supporting cast, it still has to be argued that he can still play basketball, at least for stretches, at a higher level than anyone. I personally wouldn’t say so. But like I said, it’s not crazy.