As LeBron James tries to carry the Cleveland Cavaliers to their third-straight NBA Finals appearance on Thursday night, he's targeting a fourth NBA championship ring.
Another title would only further cement LeBron's legacy as one of the greatest to ever play the game of basketball, alongside such players like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan.
However, according to Scottie Pippen, LeBron's not quite at that level yet. In fact, he said, he shouldn't be compared to the two players.
On an appearance on SportsCenter, Pippen said the Jordan/Kobe/LeBron comparison is flawed in one very basic way:
“I don’t think he’s surpassed Kobe at all, no," Pippen said. "And I don’t think he should be compared to either of those players (Michael Jordan and Kobe) because they’re playing different positions. Kobe and Michael are both 2 guards. They’re both scorers. They’re mostly like a Kyrie - they’re looking to score the basketball.”
Pippen said he'd compare LeBron to himself and also to another former Lakers legend, based on what their playing styles are like:
“I like to compare him to Magic," he said. "I think he plays a lot more like Magic, a lot more like myself - how I played, but obviously he’s more dominant than both me and Magic because of the way that he plays the game. His physicality, his athleticism surpassed Magic as well as me.”
Of course, Pippen and Jordan have six championship rings and Magic and Kobe have five apiece, so LeBron still trails them and will still have fewer even if he wins another this year.
LeBron and the Cavaliers will try to finish off the Eastern Conference Finals on Thursday night, leading the Boston Celtics 3-1 in the best-of-seven series.
After scoring only 11 points in a Game 3 loss, LeBron bounced back with 34 points in a Game 4 victory. The Celtics, without star point guard Isaiah Thomas, will find it difficult to match the Cavs' offensive output if LeBron is hot on Thursday night.
As Pippen mentioned in the video above, James is at his best when he's distributing the ball and getting teammates involved. Whereas Jordan and Bryant were at their best with the ball in their hands scoring points, LeBron has a different game - no less dominant, but still different.
A fourth title, though, whether it comes this year or in the future, would definitely help LeBron move his way up the list of the greatest players ever to play the game, regardless of their positions.