Stephen A. Smith: 2024 Playoffs Could Crown LeBron as GOAT Over Jordan

LeBron's pursuit of greatness enters a decisive phase.

by Nouman Rasool
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Stephen A. Smith: 2024 Playoffs Could Crown LeBron as GOAT Over Jordan
© Cindy Ord/Getty Images for SiriusXM

In a recent explosive commentary on ESPN's "First Take," Stephen A. Smith, a stalwart advocate for Michael Jordan in the greatest-of-all-time (GOAT) discussion, posited that LeBron James is potentially one championship run away from dethroning the Chicago Bulls legend.

Smith's declaration marks a significant shift in his longstanding viewpoint, acknowledging the narrowing gap between the two basketball titans. Smith, known for his unwavering support of Jordan, expressed a conditional change of heart: "I have consistently maintained that Michael Jordan is the greatest player of all time.

His status is untouchable. However, if LeBron James can navigate past the Denver Nuggets and clinch another championship, I must admit, my argument for Jordan might lose its weight." The Los Angeles Lakers, having edged out the New Orleans Pelicans in a nail-biting Play-In game, are set to battle the Nuggets in the first round of the playoffs.

This matchup is a rematch of last season's Western Conference Finals, where the Lakers, despite being favorites, were unexpectedly swept by the Nuggets. The stakes are even higher this season as the Lakers, under the leadership of coach Darvin Ham, enter the series as underdogs following a series of losses to the Nuggets.

LeBron's Legacy Challenge

Despite the odds, LeBron's performance continues to defy expectations. At 39, his on-court prowess rivals that of players half his age, maintaining a level of excellence that is rare in the league's history.

Smith emphasized the impact of a potential victory on LeBron's legacy: "LeBron is already a four-time champion and MVP, and has appeared in ten NBA Finals over his career. His legacy is secure, but conquering this challenge could significantly bolster his case in the GOAT debate." The journey through the 2024 playoffs could indeed redefine the narrative surrounding LeBron's career.

With a win over the Nuggets—who dominated the Lakers in previous encounters—LeBron could set the stage for a historic postseason that might not only vindicate his supporters but also silence his skeptics. Smith further speculated on the broader implications of such a victory: "Defeating the Nuggets could set a domino effect.

If LeBron can lead the Lakers past Denver, there’s no telling who they can't beat. It could be Dallas next, then the Clippers, and even Boston in a potential Finals showdown. This is more than just another title—it’s about securing a legacy that rivals, if not surpasses, Jordan’s." As the NBA playoffs unfold, all eyes will be on LeBron James.

Whether he can carry his team to victory against the formidable Nuggets will be a testament to his enduring skill and possibly, his ultimate ascension in the GOAT debate. Until then, the basketball world watches and waits, as LeBron attempts to cement his legacy in the annals of NBA history.

Stephen A. Smith
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