LeBron James declares himself 'the greatest player of all time' because of championship with Cavaliers

Basketball's GOAT debate may still rage on in think pieces, debate shows and bar conversations on a near daily basis, but it's settled in LeBron James' head ... and it has been for a few years now. 

LeBron is the greatest of all time, according to LeBron.

James apparently came to that conclusion after the 2016 NBA Finals, which were won by his Cleveland Cavaliers. After falling into a three-games-to-one series hole against the mighty Golden State Warriors, LeBron led the Cavs to three straight wins (two of them coming on the road) and recorded a triple-double in the decisive Game 7. 

He was the unanimous Finals MVP and, more importantly, he delivered on his promise of bringing a championship to his hometown Cavaliers -- their first in franchise history. 

At that point, LeBron was ready to call himself the best ever.

"That one right there made me the greatest player of all time ... that's what I felt," LeBron told business partners Maverick Carter, Randy Mims and Rich Paul during an episode of ESPN's "More Than An Athlete" series that aired Sunday night. "I was super, super ecstatic to win one for Cleveland because of the 52-year drought. ... The first wave of emotion was when everyone saw me crying, like, that was all for 52 years of everything in sports that's gone on in Cleveland. And then after I stopped, I was like -- that one right there made you the greatest player of all time.

"Everybody was just talking -- how [the Warriors] were the greatest team of all time, like it was the greatest team ever assembled," he said. "And for us to come back, you know, the way we came back in that fashion, I was like, 'You did, you did something special.' That's probably one of the only times in my career I felt like, oh, s---, like you did something special. I haven't had, really had time, to really, like, sit back and think, but that ... that was a moment."

LeBron has long been discussed as a candidate to dethrone Michael Jordan as basketball's greatest of all time, but never before has James himself come out and said that he has surpassed MJ ... until now. Knowing how much LeBron admires and respects Jordan -- he wears No. 23 because of Jordan -- that's a pretty significant statement. 

Of course, it's one that many people will likely continue to disagree with despite a closing gap in regards to stats and accomplishments. Jordan still holds the edge in MVP awards (five to LeBron's four) and, more importantly, NBA titles (six to three) but LeBron has Jordan beat in some other categories -- including All-NBA selections -- and will likely soon pass MJ on the NBA's all-time scoring leaderboard.

But for some, it might not even matter what LeBron does with his remaining years in the league if he doesn't match or beat Jordan's six rings. And for others, it still won't matter. To them, Jordan will still be the best. 

However, it appears LeBron's mind is made up, and King James sits on the throne in his own mind.

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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