After winning three NBA titles and delivering one to Cleveland as a heavy underdog last season, LeBron James is without question in the pantheon of NBA lore compared to legends like Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant, Bill Russell and Michael Jordan.
Shaquille O'Neal put it eloquently recently in an interview with cleveland.com, where he said James isn't like any one particular player -- rather, he's a combination of a number of legends.
"He's a mixture of Michael, Shaq and Magic," O'Neal told cleveland.com. "Shaq, because he's bigger and stronger than everybody. Michael because he can score whenever he feels like it. And Magic because he does a great job getting everybody else involved. He's been like that his whole career. Even in high school. I knew he was a special guy in high school."
Shaq played 18 seasons in the NBA and even played alongside James in 2009 after spending eight seasons with Kobe Bryant in Los Angeles. He knows a thing or two about both Kobe and LeBron, and perhaps no one is more qualified to weigh in on the debate than Shaq.
"I've only met two people like him," O'Neal continued. "Him and Kobe. Guys that were super determined ever since high school and accomplished all their dreams, and just wanted to be realized and recognized as one of the greatest and both had extraordinary careers."
For all that's made about the debate between LeBron and Michael Jordan, Shaq might have said it best. LeBron's incomparable in that he's a totally different player compared to the past. But he has a mixture of everything you want if you were crafting an NBA player.
After winning the Eastern Conference finals, LeBron is headed to the NBA Finals for a ridiculous seventh consecutive season, where he and the Cavaliers will face the Golden State Warriors for a third straight Finals.
It's safe to say his track record -- winning two NBA titles in Miami and one in Cleveland and never losing in the first round as a professional -- speaks for itself. Whether you agree with Shaq's take or not, it's fair to say he'll be put in the Mount Rushmore of NBA greatness when it's all said and done.