Joshua Hicks is a contributor to WARR and The D & Davis Show
The NBA is a league full of surprises and excitement. So far in this season, just shy of two weeks old, there have already been a lot of ups and down surfacing the league.
We’ve seen gruesome season-ending injuries of franchise players, several high profile playoff rematches and enough setbacks to critically Finals-bound teams to call for some real evaluation of who will be on top in the West and East this season.
Not much exists in the way of a unifying theory in the NBA right now but one player’s impressive play has took the league by storm, his start causing many to say a new age has dawned in the association, the age of Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo.
The Greek Freak has continuously shown signs of promise after accepting Kobe Bryant’s summer challenge to win the MVP this season, he marked averages of 35 points, 11 rebounds and five assists a game through Milwaukee’s first six games, all while shooting 63 percent from the field.
Due to this start, many critics have started making statements regarding comparisons of the Greek Freak to LeBron James, some even stating that he can establish a promising career very similar to James or maybe even surpass it. I am not a huge 24/7 LeBron James fan like some others out there in the world, but in this case I have to defend the King and shut down this hypocritical and blasphemous comparison.
Lets start by comparing both of these players’ first four years in the league. Antetokounmpo — the 15th overall pick in the 2011 draft — has averaged 15 points a game, seven rebounds, and four assists a game. Although he is now making an impact league-wide with an intriguing young team, it took Antetokounmpo a while to turn into today’s dominant force.
King James — first overall pick in the 2003 draft — averaged 27 points, six assists and seven rebounds a game in his first four times around the league. James’s impact was known early upon his entrance into the league. Remember, they both entered the league at the same age of 19.
While the Greek Freak and King James are arguably the current top versatile players in the league, showing the ability of playing all five positions on the court, James has proven to be more efficient, mainly due to his very high IQ and understanding of the game. Even in James’s 15th year in the league he can labeled still as the best player in the league (a rarity in any NBA era), he recently averaged a triple-double in minutes as a point guard, a position he has not played in over 11 years.
Over his career, James has made the playoffs 12 straight seasons and the NBA Finals seven straight years, his first Finals appearance came at the age of 22, while at 22 Antetokounmp has yet to win a playoff series.
James jas dominated and continues to dominate a conference and a league for over a longer period of time than most, his period as a championship competitor echos previous reigns like those of Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell. Giannis still has to show he can top teams like the Toronto Raptors.
James is a global icon and has set the tone for sales merchandise since he entered the league. Giannis was not even top 10 in jersey sales last season, according to Forbes.
Antetokounmpo is the current face of the small-market Milwaukee Bucks franchise, but James is the face of the entire NBA. Besides his successful efforts in elevating franchises like the Miami Heat and his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers, James’ efforts in the Players Association, community philanthropy and activism also set him apart to the average superstar celebrity athlete, his foundation, business acumen and strive for equality, even on the political field, is at a level the NBA has never seen before.
Yes, Antetokounmpo is a freak of nature, a high talent with a lot of promise and his current stat-line is very impressive. However, he’s pretty mucj doing what he should be doing since the Eastern Conference is nowhere near as full of talent like once before. James started his dominance upon entering the league and when the Eastern Conference talent was at one of its all-time highs.
In my DJ Khaled voice I can only say: stop playing yourselves. Just like there is only one one Michael “MJ” Jordan and one Earvin “Magic” Johnson, there is only one King, and his name is LeBron James.
Joshua Hicks is a Chicago-based sports writer and broadcaster, follow him on Twitter @jhicks042; Follow We Are Regal Radio on Twitter @regalradio1 and on Facebook under We Are Regal Radio