The yearly NBA 100 player rankings by CBS Sports show that LeBron James is no longer in the top 10

LeBron James is no longer in the top 10

Add this to the long list of things LeBron James has done well in his career: Getting another title even though he has lost a lot of control over the sport.

That, more than anything else, will define a season for one of the best players of all time, a season in which he can still put off the inevitable end, hold off time, and try, despite his falling place in the game’s hierarchy, to use his amazing remaining skills to try to squeeze out one last championship run — and silence all of us who probably think it’s too late for that.

At his best, LeBron won four championships in three different cities, including, against all chances, and for a city he loves, Cleveland. He beat Kareem Abdul-Jabbar last season to become the player with the most points in the history of the game. He is now fourth all-time in the number of goals. He has been named MVP four times and NBA Finals MVP four times.

But almost all of that was done as or near the best player in the game. This season won’t be the same. As he starts his 21st season with the Lakers, he may be facing the most difficult task of his career.

Because now that he is older, smarter, more likely to get hurt, and less able to control the game by himself, he has nothing else to do but chase rings. To try and win one more title at the end of a long and successful career. And to do it when many people had given up on him, like Kareem or Tim Duncan did when they were at their best.

Don’t just think of basketball. Father Time has become another obstacle for athletes who want to be the best. Take Tom Brady in the NFL, Novak Djokovic again the other day in tennis, and Lionel Messi still in soccer. To be the best, you sometimes have to be in charge even when most people no longer see you as such.

Our NBA writers at CBS Sports have compiled a list of the top 100 NBA players, and it seems that LeBron James has dropped to the 12th spot. Although I personally ranked him at No. 9, it seems that LeBron’s current performance doesn’t quite match his past greatness.

At least for us, he is now behind players with names like Jokic, Giannis, Steph, Embiid, and even Shai.

But he still needs to be done or we’re right. This season could show or show not to be true a lot of things.

There are younger, more hungry, and more skilled opponents and the inevitable march of time. As LeBron slowly falls in the game’s ranks, he will reach the end of his career. Part of his goal must be to put it off and show that winning is not impossible.

This person thrives on the fears of others. He will have a lot of it this season.

Last season, LeBron’s spot at the top of the league started to show some cracks. Even though it was the fifth year in a row that he played less than 70 games and the fourth year in a row that he didn’t even reach 60 games, it was the first time that CBS’s pre-season star rankings dropped significantly.

Just looking at his five seasons with the Lakers, he was ranked seventh last year after being second in the 2021-22 season and first in the three seasons before that.

LeBron James has the ability to astonish individuals and turn lists such as these into methods of undervaluing who could potentially be the greatest player of all time. It has been speculated that he desires to participate in the Olympics next year with Team USA, and there are indications that strongly suggest he can have a significant impact.

During his time with the Lakers last year, LeBron James had an average of 28.9 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 6.8 assists per game, while making half of his shots from the field. He had a playoff average of almost 25-10-7, and even though Anthony Davis was a big deal and Rob Pelinka added depth at the trade deadline, it was mostly LeBron who helped the Lakers sneak into the Western Conference finals.

Technically, he might not have been their best player all the time. But it was obvious that he was their most important. Yes, AD is younger and can play basketball. But LeBron is the best of all of them.

The fact that they were swept by the Denver Nuggets, who went on to win the championship, shows both what LeBron can still do and maybe what he can’t. 

But in this sport, success is measured by what you do on the court, and if anyone can turn back the clock and make you question where they are on a list of the Top 100, it’s LeBron James.

At PSG, many people thought Messi, who was 36 at the time, was done or at least a shadow of himself. He won the World Cup after that. Now, he plays for Inter Miami in the MLS, where he defies the rules of physics. Brady was a great player who couldn’t leave New England after 20 seasons. He proved oddsmakers and everyone else wrong when he led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl win over Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs in 2021. Before the US Open, Carlos Alcaraz, who is 20, may have been the best player in the world, but it was the 36-year-old GOAT who won the title again.

So is it crazy that LeBron, with a little luck, AD being healthy, and an interesting off-season for the Lakers, can’t do the same thing? 

History can be important. Sometimes, the past can set the stage for the present. LeBron James is still a strong former champion.

On our list of the Top 100 NBA players, Jokic has one ring, Giannis has one, Steph has four, and Durant has two. But Doncic, Embiid, Tatum, Booker, Butler, Lillard, and Gilgeous-Alexander have never won an NBA championship.

LeBron James’s hold on the NBA is over, so we have him as the 12th-best player going into this season. But sports, and especially its best of all time, have a way of making such claims seem ridiculous early.

What a great thing it would be if LeBron could do what Messi, Brady, and Djokovic have done: make us all think again about how great a GOAT is.

Also Read: LeBron James has announced that “out of respect” for Bill Russell, he will once again wear jersey number 23

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