Isiah Thomas explains why he considers LeBron the 'greatest to ever play the game'

The debate has been heating up about whether LeBron James will eventually surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest basketball player who has ever lived. Well, according to former Pistons great and Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas, the debate is already over.

But it's not only James' performance on the court that sealed it for Thomas -- it's also the work he's done bringing relevant issues to the forefront.

Following James' powerful statement about race relations in America on Wednesday, Thomas proclaimed that the Cavs forward is the greatest ever.

"LeBron James has always used his platform and his voice to shine it on communities and on the powerless in our society," Thomas said. "... In this moment right here, he has moved -- in my opinion -- into the greatest ever.

"Why? Because what he's done in the game and what he's doing outside of the game. ... What LeBron James just did today for this generation and generations to come, on this day, what he just stood for and what he just did socially with that press conference, he's the greatest player to ever play the game."

This is quite a strong reaction from Thomas, but an interesting one. When we debate the best players of all time in any sport, we generally measure things like titles and stats, but Thomas is saying that in order to judge a player's overall impact on the game, you have to include what they do off of the court as well.

Thomas mentioned athletes like Muhammad Ali, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell and Oscar Robertson, whose legacies include much more than what they were able to achieve playing their sports. Perhaps one day James will be mentioned in the same way.

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