Lebron V Jordan
The Cavs' unprecedented Finals fightback has ignited debate about LeBron's place among basketball's best
LeBron James deserves a statue outside the Cleveland Cavaliers' Quicken Loans Arena, just like Michael Jordan's outside the United Center in Chicago.
This, according to Jim Brown, the star rusher who led the Cleveland Browns to the Super Bowl in 1964.
James ensured his place among the all-time legends by leading the Cavaliers in the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history, in the process starting a genuine conversation about him being basketball's greatest ever player.
The 31-year-old forward scored 27 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and handed out 11 assists to power Cleveland's 93-89 victory over defending champions Golden State in Game Seven of the NBA Finals.
With size, strength and speed that enable him to muscle his way to the hoop and finesse as a passer to make teammates a threat from anywhere on the court, James has made himself the dominant player of his era, reaching six consecutive NBA Finals.
Jordan pushed the Chicago Bulls to six NBA titles in the 1990s with remarkable athletic skill and determination, setting the "best ever" standard for many fans - ahead of Los Angeles Lakers icons as Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
The Boston Celtics' 1960s big man Bill Russell won a record 11 NBA titles in an era of domination no team are likely to repeat, while Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal both excelled, but often with help - sometimes from each other.
But James has unleashed a magical comeback unseen in the NBA's 70-year history.
No team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit to win the best-of-seven NBA Finals until he lifted the Cavaliers to deliver the NBA's greatest shocker, ending his city's 52-year wait for a major sports champion.
James matched Johnson, O'Neal and Tim Duncan as three-time NBA Finals Most Valuable Players.
Only Jordan, with six, has more.
Calling that group "the greatest to ever do it", Cleveland native James was tearful about his place in the conversation with them.
"I'm going to be in awe. It's going to be like being at a Beyonce concert. I'm going to be like this," he added, adopting a star-struck expression.
Having unleashed back-to-back 41-point performances at the Warriors' Oracle Arena to lift the Cavaliers from a 3-1 deficit in the best-of-seven series, James delivered perhaps the greatest clutch effort in NBA Finals history, joining Jerry West and James Worthy as the only players with Game Seven "triple doubles" in NBA Finals history.
The Cavaliers ousted the ultimate foe, one that won a record 73 regular-season games and boasted the NBA's top scorer and two-time Most Valuable Player in Stephen Curry.
James was an unprecedented leader in every major Finals statistic, averaging 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals and 2.3 blocked shots a game.
He sparked off jubilation that continued when he and the team landed at the Cleveland airport yesterday, displaying the championship trophy to more than 20,000 well-wishers.
Traffic was so bad near the airport that many Cavs fans reportedly abandoned their cars in bumper-to-bumper traffic and walked a mile to the hangar.
There were also throngs of fans on the street leading up to James' home in Akron, Ohio, many holding "Dreams Come True" signs while passing cars honked their horns.
James clearly had the last laugh on naysayers who nagged him throughout his quest, posting an Instagram statement beside a photo of him holding the trophy.
"They said u lost a step, wasn't explosive as once was, the best days was in the rear view, questioned your drive, your leadership, your commitment, you don't have killer instinct, going back home is the worst mistake in your career, he got the coach fired, players traded, won't work between him and Kyrie (Irving), him and Kev (Kevin Love) won't work, love your teammates too much, there's no way he can deliver a championship in his hometown, etc etc etc... But guess what THAT'S NONE OF MY BUSINESS Hahahaha!!! Yes sir," he posted.
He could have had a heart attack; he was playing so hard. So they'd better give him a statue. That's the least they could do.
— 1964 Cleveland Browns star Jim Brown on Cleveland Cavaliers hero LeBron James