Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
In a recent interview, Miami Heat superstar LeBron James said, "I'm going to be one of the top four that's ever played this game, for sure."
When forced to give his current "Mount Rushmore of the NBA," James rattled off Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Oscar Robertson.
But he then added they would have to make room on the mountain for him.
Sorry, LeBron, I have my doubts.
I will give LeBron his due for being one of the best of this era and a fantasy superstar. It would be hard not to as he has career averages of 27.5 points, 7.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists per game.
But to be one of the top four of all time, he's going to have to do more.
First off, any list of NBA greats that doesn't include Wilt Chamberlain has a huge 7-foot-2 hole in it. Wilt averaged 30.1 ppg, 22.9 rpg and 4.4 apg over 15 seasons. And even that doesn't begin to tell his story as late in his career he just stopped scoring to concentrate of dishing the ball. In six seasons with Philadelphia and San Francisco, he averaged 41.5 ppg and 25.1 rpg. In the 1961-62 season, he averaged 50.4 ppg and 25.7 rpg.
Chamberlain would have been the greatest NBA fantasy player of all time had fantasy sports been established 50-plus years ago.
I agree with LeBron that Robertson also should be on the list. Over his 14-year career, the "Big O" had numbers similar to James - 25.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg and 9.5 apg.
Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 (30.8 ppg, 12.5 rpg and 11.4 apg) in what may have been the greatest single-season performance ... ever. And for Robertson, his scoring came in an era that didn't have the 3-point shot, so his career 25-point average was probably a bigger feat than James' 27-point average.
Jordan is a must on any list of greatest NBA players - real or fantasy. He averaged 30.1 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 5.3 apg and 2.3 steals per game. He led the league in scoring 10 times to go along with his six championship rings.
Bird obviously has to be considered for any top-four list. He averaged 24.3 ppg, 10.0 rpg and 6.3 apg over a 13-year, three-championship career. And his final seasons brought down those totals due to a debilitating back injury.
Chamberlain, Robertson, Jordan and Bird make my "Fantasy Mount Rushmore of the NBA."
And I would probably put Magic Johnson in front of James as well. Though his scoring average was significantly lower than any of the above mentioned players (19.5 ppg), Magic's 11.2 assists per game are tough to ignore as are 7.2 rebounds per game from the guard spot.
Don't forget Elgin Baylor, either (27.4 ppg, 13.5 rpg and 4.3 apg). He rarely gets mentioned in these lists, but his numbers are as good as anyone's.
Shaquille O'Neal (23.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg and 2.5 apg) might have posted numbers to get there had he not hung on over his final five seasons. From 1992-2005, the Big Aristotle averaged 26.3 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 2.8 apg and 2.5 blocks per game..
Others under consideration included Jerry West (27.0 ppg, 5.8 rpg and 6.7 apg), Bob Pettit (26.4 ppg, 16.2 rpg and 3.0 apg), Kobe Bryant (25.5 ppg, 5.3 rpg and 4.8 apg), Karl Malone (25.0 ppg, 10.1 rpg and 3.6 apg) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24.6 ppg, 11.2 rpg and 3.6 apg).