LeBron James is the Associated Press Player of the Decade. It was a two man race. Both LeBron and Steph Curry won 3 titles in the decade. LeBron won 3 MVP’s to Curry’s back to back MVP’s in the years 2014-16. Both Curry and LeBron beat each other in the Finals, though LeBron’s game 7 winner at Oracle was more dramatic than Curry’s six game domination at Quicken Loans in 2015. LeBron was an All-Star every year in the decade while Curry made 6 straight All-Star appearances beginning in 2014.
LeBron was 1st team All-NBA 9 years in a row (2010-18). He was All Defensive 1st team three years in a row. Curry, on the other hand has never been All Defensive 1st, 2nd or 3rd team, and he was All-NBA 1st team three times. Only twice has he done it in back to back years (2015-16).
In the decade, Steph Curry revolutionized offensive basketball by way of the three point shot and ushered in a modern way of creating scoring opportunities by spacing the floor with three point shooters. He changed the point guard position: scorer and passer. Curry played with tempo and with verve. He was a threat from everywhere on the court. And he personified joy.
LeBron in the decade revolutionized the league. He gave players empowerment by his gutsy personnel decisions, moving around when he saw fit. He signed a bunch of one year deals that benefited him and put the home team in quicksand. He, and not wealthy billionaire owners, determined his destiny. LeBron opened a public school, went toe to toe with arrogant politicians, embraced racial solidarity and equality, pushed back on Colin Kapernick hate, fought for justice.
In the decade, the n-word was scribbled across his driveway. In the decade, Barack Obama was president followed by Donald Trump. In the decade, LeBron James went to 8 NBA Finals in a row. Only the Celtics of the 60’s have a record like that and LeBron did it with a bunch of different teammates. He was the glue.
LeBron played the most minutes and scored the most points in the decade. Six times LeBron averaged 25 points, 50% field goals, 7 rebounds and 7 assists. Michael Jordan did it once in his career. Same with Larry Bird. LeBron has 3 Finals MVP’s while Steph Curry has none.
If you are asking who had the most stress in the decade, who had to overcome the most, LeBron wins that too. After The Decision he was despised, not for leaving Cleveland, but for having a television reality show on how to break the heart of Cavs fans. LeBron took the abuse, rose above The Frozen One nickname, sulked over his 2011 Finals loss, and came back to win back-to-back titles. He one-upped Pat Riley by ditching town. Three years later, he ruined Golden State’s dream of a perfect season.
LeBron was a coach’s dream some of the time. He 86’d David Blatt for Ty Lue and then won a title with Lue. He 86’d Luke Walton and had no say in Frank Vogel’s hiring. But he has come to admire the defensive stalwart Vogel and for the first time in a long time Lakerland is drama free because of James keeping the ship steady and balanced.
LeBron perfected the chase down block and used it in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to set up the Kyrie Irving game winner. He made history in the decade. The only player to come back from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
The only player to do a lot of things, LeBron’s domination is unparalleled. He changed the three organizations he played for. He wasn’t a load management take a few nights off kind of guy. He played a lot. He won a lot. He lost too and with grace. Watching him, we won too. He’s a player that will be copied and idolized years after he plays his last game. In the decade, we were witnesses.