A 6’8 point guard from Akron, Ohio’s St. Vincent’s-St. Mary’s High School, LeBron James has had impact from the minute he walked on an NBA floor at 18 years old.
Comparatively, Magic Johnson did too.
A first round pick like James, Johnson took the league by storm in 1979 when he was selected by the Lakers. A 6’9, pass-first point guard, Johnson played with the Lakers throughout his whole career and won five NBA Championships in doing so.
Million Dollar Question: Do James and Magic’s play on the court mirror one another?
“Now he’s really truly playing the point guard,” Magic Johnson told me earlier this year.
“He was point-forward before. I think we do play similar and we have similar ways in terms of coming down and making our teammates better. We won championships the same way. Our games are much alike, especially now that the ball is in his hands most of the time now as a real, true point guard.”
Others weighed in too. “Well I had a chance to play against Magic in the 90’s at UCLA,” NBA legend, Earl Watson told me on the Heavy Live With Scoop B Show.
“And he was STILL winning and dominating the courts over everyone. All the Laker teams with Shaq, Kobe, Derek Fisher… just that entire crew and Magic was running everything in UCLA’s main gym. But I think where LeBron separates from Magic is his athleticism. Like just imagine Magic Johnson with Michael Jordan’s athleticism and you have LeBron.”
While on Heavy Live With Scoop B, Watson discussed Gary Payton and Jason Kidd’s skillset and if James’ game resembles theirs at all. “So, this is where were gonna unpack right here,” Watson told me.
Lakers’ LeBron James gets high praise at PG position from Magic Johnson! pic.twitter.com/vM1rWdElAn
— 👑📍Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson, M.A. (@ScoopB) February 14, 2020
“He doesn’t remind me of Gary Payton because Gary Payton played out the post. Gary plays out of the post and I think he can dominate the post. Gary scored better on the block. Gary was a menace on that left block with the up-and-unders and left hand scoops and backing you down and he’d punish you on that left block. When you think about passing, he’s more of a cerebral player and a passer like a J-Kidd because J-Kidd had the ability to play in front of the rim and stare at the rim, right? GP was staring at half court and everything to the left shoulder. Kidd played out of the post too, but he would play it above the arc and create plays and that’s where you get the J-Kidd and the LeBron comparisons. But to me, J-Kidd was still a more polished point guard, where LeBron is just the better player and he can see every pass like J-Kidd but, it’s just the passes that J-Kidd can make, LeBron really doesn’t have to make all those passes. He can just jump over you. So you have that advantage both ways. You just have to pick your poison.”
LeBron James is a reigning NBA champ of the Los Angeles Lakers and the NBA Finals MVP.
A ten-time NBA All Star and triple double assassin, Kidd won an NBA championship toward the end of his career as a member of the Dallas Mavericks, was named co-Rookie of the Year in ‘95 with fellow Hall of Fame inductee Grant Hill.
After retiring from basketball, Kidd became an NBA head coach in stints with the Brooklyn Nets and the Milwaukee Bucks. He’s currently an assistant coach with the Lakers where he won an NBA Championship last season.
A nine-time NBA All-Star and one-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Gary Payton won a championship with the Miami Heat in 2006.
A brilliant basketball mind, Earl Watson had a lengthy stint in the NBA with the now-defunct Seattle Sonics, Memphis Grizzlies, Oklahoma City Thunder, Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers, Earl Watson retired from hoops and coached professionally with the Phoenix Suns.