Tom Brady / LeBron James: Why we continue to compare sports biggest athletes and clearly favor one over the other

LeBronBrady1

The most overused acronym in sports is G.O.A.T. Fueled by debate shows on networks such as ESPN and FOX Sport 1, there is an ongoing argument and declaration that a person is the greatest of all time in his or her respective sport. We are now at a time where LeBron James is being talked about as the greatest NBA Player of all time and Tom Brady discussed as the greatest NFL Quarterback of all time. Though one plays football and the other basketball, sports fans and media frequently bring up Tom Brady when discussing LeBron James or vice versa to paint a metaphorical picture of what the GOAT should look like. However, the criticism clearly falls heavier on LeBron James and favoritism is always bestowed upon Tom Brady. Well here are my thoughts on the subject.

The Road to the Championship

LeBron James, playing in the weak Eastern Conference, has the easiest road to the NBA Finals every year. This is my favorite argument to listen to only because it’s so lame and lazy that it just sounds like an excuse for why LeBron can’t be the G.O.A.T. Getting to the NBA Finals every year is impressive no matter how you look at it. The way I see it, many notable NBA free agents stay west or join a western conference team to avoid LeBron James until absolutely necessary, which is in the NBA Finals. It will be interesting to see how many players start to move East if he goes West this offseason.

So LeBron James gets all of this criticism about the “easy” road to the finals but no one ever examines Tom Brady’s road to the Super Bowl. Let’s take a look at the teams that play in the same division as the New England Patriots: Buffalo Bills, New York Jets, and Miami Dolphins. All three teams have been absolutely terrible for as long as Brady has been in the league. And, yes, this includes the Rex Ryan led Jets that Pats fans were so afraid of. Each year, Brady has an easy road to the playoffs typically getting a bye week in the playoffs because his team is able to rack up wins against the three teams mentioned above during the season. So for the Divisional Round of the playoffs, they are usually facing one of the worst playoff seeds in the AFC. When you think about it, the usually well-rested Patriots’ first competitive playoff game is Conference Championship and then the Super Bowl.

Based on the path LeBron and Brady takes, Brady’s road appears easier than LeBron’s when you factor in how consistently poor the competition is in the AFC East and how well-rested the Pats are compared to the tough games the other teams have to endure beforehand as they vie for Super Bowl contention. In regards to LeBron, he does have an easy path but his greatness makes it look way too easy than it actually is.

One man has been accused of cheating and one has not

The worst LeBron may have been accused of is flopping, which is one of the more disgusting things players do to bait the referees into calling a foul. However, what can LeBron do if he is constantly driving to the basket and getting punched and slapped with no foul called. Overall, it is on the referees to determine what is a flop versus an actual foul and make that call accordingly.

Tom Brady, on the other hand, has been mentioned with allegations such as Deflategate. This is actual cheating, but surprisingly it’s never compared to steroid use in baseball where players like Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens will never fully get the credit they deserve because their names were mentioned with an ugly allegation. I’m not saying that Tom Brady shouldn’t be a Hall of Famer, but no G.O.A.T. should ever be mentioned in the same sentence as cheating.

Take LeBron off the Cavs / Take Brady off the Pats 

Take LeBron James off the Cleveland Cavaliers. We’ve seen it. They are in the lottery every year. Let’s go further. Take him off the Miami Heat. Their chances of winning the championship are reduced to zero percent. What we do know, which ever team he is on, they are instant contenders in a star-studded league.

Take Tom Brady off the New England Patriots. We’ve seen it. 2008 with Matt Cassel. Matt who? In a year where Brady went down with injury, Matt Cassel stepped in and had arguably his best year as a pro. Matt Cassel, by no means, will go down as one of the greats but he was able to fill such a role when his number was called. And then most recently, when Brady was suspended for Deflategate, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett (two young QBs) were able to step in and earn some wins. The only constant in this matter is Head Coach Bill Belichick, who should be given the most credit for the Patriots success over the years. It makes one wonder, what would Tom Brady’s career look like if he played under anyone other than Bill Belichick?

Greatest of All Time

Sacramento Kings v Chicago Bulls

LeBron James and Tom Brady, statistically, are two of the best to play in their respective sports and both will be missed when it is time for them to depart the game. However, I would label neither as the G.O.A.T. because of reasons mentioned above.

I would take only one player over LeBron James and that is Michael Jordan. Jordan never had an easy road to the finals, and faced multiple (at the time) future Hall of Famers before getting to the finals and winning every time he got there. Many proclaim Jordan as the G.O.A.T. in basketball and I most certainly agree, but it’s really hard to compare him to centers like Kareem Abdul Jabbar or Bill Russell since they played different positions and the role of a center versus a shooting guard is a drastic change.

I would only take Brady if he and Belichick came as a packaged deal. They are the greatest Head Coach/QB duo in sports. Other than that, there are many other quarterbacks I would take over Brady from Joe Montana to Bret Favre. From Peyton Manning to Aaron Rodgers. I’m sorry but Brady lost to Nick Foles and Eli Manning (twice!) in the Super Bowl. The guys I just mentioned lost to QBs such as John Elway, Drew Brees, and Russell Wilson.

This idea of a player being a G.O.A.T. is thrown out so easily that it really defeats how sacred the term should actually be. Growing up, the amount of times I heard Kobe Bryant being mentioned as the greatest basketball player of all time and even having to listen to the whispers regarding Stephen Curry being compared to LeBron James and Michael Jordan the year he won unanimous MVP was just ridiculous.

It’s okay if sports fans make these preposterous declarations because most of us sports fans really don’t know anything. But to tune into a show and listen to analysts, who get paid to do research and provide accurate and compelling information to viewers, make statements that are downright insulting to the game really shows how much a “prisoner of the moment” even members of the media become as they watch the game. This notion of being a prisoner of the moment is part of sports, but it’s hard to take anyone’s opinion/information seriously if one week they make an argument then the next week they say something that completely contradicts their previous statement. With the Pats most recent Super Bowl loss, hopefully we’ll cool it with the Tom Brady G.O.A.T. talks for a while.

I’ll leave with this. In order for someone to truly be the greatest, a la Muhammad Ali, the term can’t thrown out so loosely because it ultimately undermines its value. Let’s wait to see how players end his or her career and see how it compares to the greats before boldly and irresponsibly associating terms like G.O.A.T. with their name.

Until next time,

NoFearLavere

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My Money’s On Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder v Brooklyn Nets

It feels like yesterday he was the 4th pick of the Seattle Supersonics. Almost like yesterday he played in the NBA Finals alongside the likes of James Harden, Serge Ibaka, and Kevin Durant. Like yesterday, he hoisted up the All-Star Game MVP Trophy, twice. Today, Russell Westbrook is the reigning NBA regular season MVP, the owner of the NBA regular season triple-double record, and the leader of an Oklahoma City Thunder team who poses a legitimate threat to take home the 2017-2018 NBA Championship. Oh, and let’s not forget he is a modern-day fashion icon.

Westbrook is certainly an All-Star but not a superstar. Words echoed by Owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban in regards to Russell Westbrook. And then March 27th, 2017 happened. The Russell Westbrook-led Oklahoma City Thunder were facing Mark Cuban’s Dallas Mavericks. Down as many as 15 points in the game, the Thunder were down 11 with 2:40 left to go in the fourth quarter on the Mavs home court. Then, as Cuban labeled him, the “All-Star” took over. An offensive rebound and pass from Taj Gibson led to a Westbrook 3-point shot in Harrison Barnes’ face, BANG, 8-point game with 2:34 to go. After a Harrison Barnes missed layup on the other end, Westbrook raced down the court and backed down Yogi Ferrell from the 3-point line all the way into the paint, then hits a turnaround jump shot – AND 1. “He’s outta his mind!” The announcer said in excitement. Next up, was Wesley Matthew’s turn to face Westbrook’s wrath. He and Matthews met at the 3-point line. Westbrook crossed him over then raced to the paint, brushed off some contact, then hit the fade away with less than one minute to go. With 13.6 seconds left, the Mavs were inbounding the ball up by 1. Then the “All-Star” happened, again. Westbrook interfered with the pass, causing the ball to go out of bounds off the J.J. Barea. Thunder ball. 13.1 seconds left in the game. The ball was inbounded to Russell Westbrook. In full Westbrook demeanor, he raced up the court. In fear of Westbrook heading to paint, Matthews retreats too much allowing Westbrook to pull up for the jump shot. You guessed it, BANG, ball game.

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That pull up over a defender at the top of the key is a very familiar sight. Reminds me of the 1998 NBA Finals where a certain Chicago Bulls player hit a game winner on the road from that spot. There is no coincidence Westbrook is on the Jordan Brand. His determination to win resembles that same drive Michael Jordan had when on court. And Jordan is only the man considered to be the greatest of all-time. “I got my first MVP award before my first ring, too.” Words by Jordan on Westbrook. It’s only a matter of time before these words become true for Westbrook.

USP NBA: OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER-MEDIA DAY S BKN USA OK

The stars have, literally and figuratively, aligned for Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoma City Thunder with the arrival of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony to go along with Steven Adams and the supporting cast. This has the making to be a very special year for the Thunder. We know it won’t be easy and nothing is ever certain in the NBA, or sports for that matter. But there is one thing we can be certain about, and that is when Westbrook steps on that court he is going to give 100% to his team, his city, and his fans.

Career Predictions and Realizations

Prediction: Russell Westbrook will win an NBA Championship before all is said and done.

Realization: Once he captures that title, many will realize and consider him as a top 5 point guard to ever play this game. Considering where he’ll end up statistically, compared to his peers, he just needs that championship to solidify his greatness.

Prediction: He will retire a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and have a statue created in his honor.

Realization: Westbrook will be up there with the Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, and the Kobe Bryant’s of the world.  Guys who embraced the great moments that happened in the city they played for and never quit when things got tough. Instead, they endured. When you think about, that just makes winning so much sweeter.

They said he doesn’t pass the ball. He averaged 10 assist. They said he’s not a superstar. He won MVP. They said no big name stars will want to play with him. He now plays with two, one of which waived his no-trade clause to make it happen. Now, go on, say he won’t win a championship. I dare you. He will prove you wrong, again. My money is on Westbrook. Because, WHY NOT?

Sincerely,

NoFearLavere

Follow me on Twitter @NoFearBlogging