By Tony Eackles
On May 4, 2013, the National Basketball Association awarded LeBron James his fourth Most Valuable Player. His peers now rank him with the all-time basketball greats, such as Michael Jordan.
Marcus Banks, former teammate of James, said, “LeBron is making a claim to be the greatest ever after this past season.”
James was almost a unanimous choice for MVP, receiving 120 out of a possible 121 votes. He is the second player to have that many votes.
The other was Shaquille O’Neal in 2000. No MVP was a unanimous choice.
Banks said that James’ great season should not be overlooked as one of the greatest ever. “He did things on the basketball court that I have never seen anybody do.”
James is only the fifth player in NBA history to win this award four times. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Michael Jordan (5), Bill Russell (4), and Wilt Chamberlain (4) are the others.
All of those players are in the Pro-Basketball Hall of Fame.
“People really compare him to Michael because of he has physical gifts that were like Michael’s,” Banks said.
James accomplished a feat that Jordan never did, winning the MVP award four out of five years.
Dru Joyce Sr., James’ high school basketball coach, said, “LeBron often gets criticized for everything that he does not do on the basketball court, he should be praised for the things he does.”
Joyce coached James for four years, 2000-2003, and said he continues to keep a close relationship with him.
“Me and Lebron talk very often, and he always is asking me ‘how can I get better coach?’” Joyce said. He continues, “That’s what makes him great, he always wants to get better.”
When asked if James gets a fair comparison to somebody like Michael Jordan, Joyce said, “No, he does not, because people do not think outside of the box.”
ESPN.com has James ranked as the number one player in the NBA the past three years.
James stands out from his peers during his 10-year NBA career. He is a nine-time all-star, NBA scoring champion, Finals MVP, and NBA Champion.
Until James won his first title in 2012, he was heavily criticized for not winning a championship his first eight years in the league.
Banks said that not winning a championship ate at James throughout his career.
“Fans, other players, coaches, general managers—everybody took shots at Lebron,” Banks said.
“All of his idols, the greats, the legends, the hall of famers, all of them had rings and he did not,” Banks said. “It motivated him every day in practice because he knew he needed to win to be great.”