As the Golden State Warriors have swept through the playoffs and now have the defending champions in a 3-0 hole, some NBA players and analysts - notably led by LeBron's former rival Paul Pierce - have argued that Kevin Durant has surpassed James as the best player on the planet.
According to Chris Broussard, LeBron proved in the Cavs' Game 3 loss that he's still the King.
LeBron was the reason the Cavs even had a chance
“I wish I had been wrong [about a Warriors sweep]. … I think this Golden State team is one of the best we’ve ever seen, and we’ll see what they doin the years to come. I just think they’re much better than Cleveland.
"I thought the Cavs showed - and I don’t want to give them a ‘moral victory,’ they’re professionals - but I thought their defense was much improved. I thought they played with a lot more heart, they were diving on the floor getting loose balls.
"... I know somebody on this set thinks [LeBron is] 100 percent [to blame of the loss].
"Look, and I’m not going to give him a pass, but the reason they were even in the game and had a chance to win is because he put on a sensational performance in the first 46 minutes. In the first half, Kyrie came on in the second and third quarters.”
Ken BlazeKen Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Without LeBron on the court, the Cavaliers got destroyed
“And even the talk about Durant being the best player, I thought LeBron clearly … I mean, he just showed you how he can dominate a game in so many different ways that I thought he sealed the deal again as the best player in the world.
"Now 46 minutes he played, they were plus-7. Think about that. They’re playing this juggernaut that everybody on the Cavs now is calling a juggernaut, and he was plus-7 in 46 minutes of action.
"The two-and-a-half minutes [LeBron's] off the court, they’re minus-12.”
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
The pace of the game took a toll on LeBron and Kyrie
“So when you look at that, it’s hard to blame him for the loss. But as the best player on the team and the best player in the world, you do get blame in those situations.
"Let’s go through the endgame. I thought the 46 minutes at that pace - and we can blame him and Ty Lue somewhat for playing that pace. They continued to try to run with them and play fast. I think that had an effect on the endgame on LeBron and Kyrie.
"LeBron, he goes to the lane, misses that layup against Klay Thompson. I think fatigue plays a factor [there]. The 12-footer, I think fatigue can play some factor in that miss.”
David RichardDavid Richard-USA TODAY Sports
Passing to Korver in the final minute was the right play, it just didn't pay off
“I don’t mind Kyrie taking that big shot, because we know he’s a big-shot player. That’s his sweet spot. That’s where he hit the big shot last year to beat Golden State.
"LeBron doesn’t have that go-to shot that he’s going to get anytime he wants. He can try to drive, but he may not finish. Kyrie, I thought his legs were gone and the shot was left short.
"I don’t mind the pass to Korver at all. A couple minutes earlier he had thrown a similar pass to J.R. Smith who hits the 3-pointer, gives them a six-point lead. That’s what you brought Korver in for, to hit 3-pointers. He’s one of the best 3-point shooters in history, so I’ll live with that shot.”
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron's greatest mistake was not pressuring Kevin Durant on his go-ahead three
“Where I [blame] LeBron is you’ve got to know KD may take that 3 with 45 seconds left. And I know you’re worried about the blow-by, because he can handle it. It would tie it. You’ve got to push your defense out further and try to get up on him.
"And then the last 3 with 12 seconds left. You said it before, look at a lot of LeBron’s game-winners. He’s not thinking, it’s instinct, ‘I’m just throwing it up there and it goes.’ Orlando in 2009, Chicago in 2015. The point is this: Those are three shots that he’s just catching and shooting in desperation. He can hit those, we’ve seen him hit those shots.
"I don’t mind that shot if you get it off. Obviously, it was a great play by Iguodala.”