Michael Jordan and LeBron James are two of the greatest players in NBA history. The GOAT debate, as entertaining and interesting as it has been, will likely never end. However, Stephen A. Smith believes the conversation is over. That was after James missed the postseason for the second time in four years with the LA Lakers (31-48).
On ESPN's "First Take", Smith said "The King" no longer has a shot at being named the GOAT over Jordan.
"This is the worst season of LeBron James' career," Smith said. "I'm not talking about his numbers, and I'm not talking about what he did as a player. I'm talking about what he's a part of. The GOAT conversation is officially over ... If there was any doubt, this cemented the fact that LeBron James can never be considered the GOAT," he added.
Smith explained that no matter how great James fared this season as a player, he was not able to carry the LA Lakers to collective success. The New Orleans Pelicans without their best player and a young San Antonio Spurs team edged Los Angeles for the final two play-in spots.
"You were good enough to average 29 a game; how come you weren't good enough to get your troops in order, so you could be a respectable team? This is a man that spoke out and said he was against the play-in. Now you ain't even make the play-in," Smith said.
Even though James is no longer in contention in Smith's eyes in the GOAT conversation, the debate will always keep raging. The four-time NBA champion is getting closer to breaking the league's all-time scoring record, which would make the debate even more interesting.
Will LeBron James play the remaining three games for LA Lakers?
LeBron James is currently behind Joel Embiid by 0.01 points for the scoring title. With three games remaining, James needs to play two more contests to play the minimum number of games played to become scoring the champion. However, with the LA Lakers' postseason hopes over, will "The King" be motivated to chase it?
The Lakers were eliminated from playoff contention on Tuesday night following a 121-110 loss to the Phoenix Suns. They still have three games remaining as James recuperates from a sprained left ankle that caused him to miss four of the last five outings.
If James decides to chase the scoring title, it would give his critics more ammunition. They could say he's stat-padding and only chasing individual glory. James' legacy is already secured even if he doesn't become the oldest player to win the scoring title.
"The Chosen One" is better off sitting the remainder of the regular season and start preparing for the next one. The Lakers are entering the offseason in a very interesting position, with James at the center of it.