NEW ORLEANS — LeBron James wasn’t backing away from his Mt. Rushmore comments that stirred up a fuss. The other day he told Steve Smith on NBA TV that he hoped to one day knock either Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan or Oscar Robertson off and claim his own spot.
But he did offer a creative solution.
“It’s hard to knock anybody off,” James said at the NBA All-Star Media Day. “There needs to be another mountain built. I mean there’s too many guys.
“Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) and Kobe (Bryant) were two guys that came to my mind, too. I definitely was thinking about Kobe as a top four of all-time. Kareem, for sure. There are so many greats that played this game.”
Give the four-time MVP credit. He also didn’t back down from his stated goal of becoming known as the greatest player of all time.
“There’s no reason I couldn’t be No. 1,” he said. “That’s my goal. That’s my personal goal.
“Anytime I bring up a subject or answer a question, guys like to dissect it and make it bigger or smaller than what it is.
“My personal goal is to be the greatest of all time. I don’t really care what other people say, where they put me, how they define me. You could have a poll of 100 people, what do they think, that’s not for me to care about. For me, I have an opportunity to maximize my career and be the greatest of all time. I feel like I can do that. That’s my personal goal.”
It’s the fishbowl world that James lives in. Most of the time we hear athletes dance around questions, never put themselves out there on the line with an honest answer. Then LeBron steps up to the line with a direct response and he gets whipped from some corners for it.
What’s wrong with a 29-year-old who is already a 10-time All-Star, with an armload of individual awards, two championships and four NBA Finals appearances saying that he wants and expects the most out of himself? He didn’t disparage anyone. If anything, he simply put more pressure on himself to perform and deliver.
James sat for 30 minutes before a horde of TV cameras, microphones and notebooks and was engaging with every answer on Friday.
He was told that when Kevin Durant was asked, on a scale of 1 to 10, how much does he dislike being compared to James, K.D. said 25.
“I don’t mind,” James said. “You’re always gonna be linked to somebody. Early in my career I was linked to Kobe. Now I’m linked to K.D. You’re always gonna be linked to somebody. It’s how you handle it. I don’t get caught up in it.
“I don’t think I’m compared to him. They just talk about the two best players in the game and which one is better. Which one can score better? Who’s the MVP? Who’s gonna win the next championship? They don’t ever compare our games too much. We’re two different players.”
He was asked about his 36-point, 13-rebound, nine-assist game when he nailed down a 111-110 win at Golden State with a 3-pointer to beat the horn.
“I just had a conversation with Steph Curry,” James said. “He talked to me about what I was doing. I asked him what was he doing shooting all them step-back 3s in the third quarter. The hesitation on Rio [Mario Chalmers] and going for the and-1. It’s great to be around your peers. People recognize what others are doing throughout the NBA season. I’m happy I was able to put on a performance right before All-Star to be fresh on guys’ minds.”
Then James was asked if his proclivity in the last couple of years to step up big late in games was the result of any work with a psychologist.
“Yeah, I work with a psychologist,” LeBron said. “Her name is Spalding. She goes into the rim and that’s what happens.”