When the discussion of “All-Time” greats come up, there are always discrepancies in opinion of who is in fact the greatest at any given position. And this was most evident when former Golden State Warriors‘ coach Mark Jackson stated that he considers LeBron James as the “Greatest Small-Forward Ever.”
There have been so many outstanding players in the history of the game at this position that it would be hard to do the argument justice in this brief rant. But one can’t help to acknowledge the man they called “Larry Legend” — none other than Larry Bird. How could anyone deny the brilliance the Bird brought to the small forward position?
Statistically speaking, Bird is currently (emphasis on currently) the best at this position. He leads LeBron in NBA championships, playoffs played in, All-Star selections, All-NBA first team selections and total All-NBA Team selections. Yes, if LeBron continues to play a long and successful career, he will be the greatest of all time at some point. But that point is not now.
If we are talking skills, Bird was just as good of passer as LeBron and a better shooter. Bird was just as good of a scorer and did it against plenty of legendary competition. LeBron puts up impressive numbers, but this era of basketball is way softer and allows for a distorted stat sheet that can make players like the Indiana Pacers’ Roy Hibbert look like an MVP.
LeBron obviously has a dominant advantage in the athleticism department and that makes him a better defender. But as of this season, the “King” of this position is still number 33 from French Lick.