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How LeBron James is this generation's Magic Johnson

Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Six
Phoenix Suns v Los Angeles Lakers - Game Six
Adam Taylor
EXPERT

LeBron James is arguably the greatest player to ever grace a basketball court. He is a player whose skill set is so diverse he's able to occupy any position on a basketball court. You cannot go a day without seeing a LeBron James - Michael Jordan comparison on social media, as fans from each era battle it out to prove why one of the two should reign supreme.

While comparing players from different eras is an exercise in futility, another aspect makes any LeBron James vs. Jordan comparison a redundant exercise. This era has already had its iteration of Jordan. His name was Kobe Bryant; saying that LeBron James is a similar player to the Chicago Bulls legend is like comparing a luxury SUV to a Ferrari - both are amazing but are vastly different machines.

You see, LeBron James isn't a pure scorer like Jordan was, and he's not the guy to put buckets ahead of team basketball as many perceived Kobe to do. Instead, LeBron James is a point guard in a forward's body, a founding father of the positionless basketball movement, if you will.

So when comparing LeBron James to a historically significant one, who should it be? Only one name comes to mind: Earvin 'Magic' Johnson. The Lakers legend is one of the only players to ever truly encapsulate the five-position threat that LeBron James has developed into. Both players thrive as primary creators for their team but have no qualms about finishing offensive opportunities either.

If the Lakers needed or needed someone to slide up or down a position, then either LeBron James or Magic Johnson were there to answer the call. The comparisons go deeper than the skillset, too.

Neither LeBron James nor Magic was built to operate as point guards. No, their bodies dictated playing positions on the frontcourt - as did their physical presence. But that size and strength is a blessing, especially when you combine it with elite athleticism that allows you to bulldoze your way to the rim at will.

We can throw Scottie Pippen into this discussion, too, because he's also part of the founding father movement. He was among a small subset of players who coined the term "point-forward" and spawned a generation of ball-handling wings who could do more than just spot-up or slash to the rim.

Without the likes of LeBron James, Magic and Pippen, we wouldn't have the Gordon Hayward's of the NBA, players who've honed multiple aspects of their distribution game and used their passing skills as a method of freeing up scoring opportunities. Looking at this generation's top-tier potential, you can see the New Orleans Pelicans forcing similar types of development with Zion Williamson - teams have seen the value of a powerfully built, team-first minded point-forward. They are trying to replicate the formula with the hope that sustained success will follow.

It's no surprise that both LeBron James and Magic Johnson are present on a multitude of all-time lists; their greatness dictates as much. But what is surprising is how little comparison between the two greats is made; you will hear people spout Pippen's name far more regularly than you will Magic's.

Is it because Magic Johnson played in an era so often ignored by modern fans? Do people not respect his impact on the game or his achievements within it? Or maybe they're just not as clued up on Magic's accomplishments - especially when Pippen and Jordan's names are thrust around in conversation so ubiquitously.

LeBron James is a point forward who can play 1-through-5 and is arguably one of the best perimeter defenders in history, his physicality allowed him to dominate the league from an early age and his record of success speaks for itself. After reading LeBron James' list of individual and collective accolades, Magic Johnson's own accomplishments come to mind. Magic was an All-Star starter as a rookie who led his team to a championship in his first year as a pro. The list goes on and on - and both players thrived with their rock in their hands.

Magic Johnson Heralds His And LeBron James' Combined Legacy: "Together We Have 19 NBA Finals Appearances, 9 NBA Championships, 7 League MVPs, And 7 Finals MVP" https://t.co/pM6QJ9UYYa

So next time you see a debate about who the GOAT is, remember it's not as clear cut as LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan because position plays a part too. And when discussing LeBron James, it's Magic Johnson who his name should be compared to too, it makes more sense and is easier to compare skills between the two.

Either way, LeBron James is one of the greatest players to ever lace them up, regardless of who you're comparing him to.

Edited by Arnav Kholkar
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