NEW ORLEANS -- LeBron James is all about the buzz.
And the Miami Heat superstar certainly created one earlier this week with his Mount Rushmore comments.
James said his Mount Rushmore of players -- the four greatest NBA players of all-time -- would include Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson. For what it's worth, that's not a bad fearsome foursome.
But we all know that going down that greatest of all-time lane is a game you can't win. Particularly when you limit yourself to just four players.
James, however, went there and did that, and the criticism naturally started pouring in from all corners of this global sport. James, who also said somebody's got to be removed from Mount Rushmore because he's going to be at the top of the mountain when his career is over, believes the historical architects have some more house cleaning to do.
"There needs to be another mountain built," said James, realizing the brimstone fire he has started. "I definitely was thinking about Kobe (Bryant) as the top four of all-time, and I was thinking about Kareem for sure.
"There's so many greats who have played this game."
For James to include himself on Mount Rushmore, Oklahoma City forward Kevin Durant said: "That's confidence. That's confidence."
That's either confidence, or cockiness. Or downright brazen. Or a disrespect to his elders.
But King James has won the NBA's Most Valuable Player award four times in the past five years, and his Heat team has claimed the past two titles.
So he's entitled to a braggadocio, even if he is a bit over the top at times.
Durant, though, is a bit more humble and didn't wish to step on Superman's cape and include himself on Mount Rushmore just yet. To him, that's sacred.
"I respect the legends, I respect everything they've done for the game," Durant said. "This is my seventh year in the league, man.
"I've got a long time to play, so we'll see after that, but right now I don't think I should be on there at all. I shouldn't even be thought about being on there."
James, though, has always been more vocal than Durant about his place in history.
And for some reason, James seems to be even more boisterous this season as more and more people talk about this year's MVP award surely going to Durant.
James obviously has heard the chatter. So he decided to skip the MVP debate and just go straight Mount Rushmore on everybody.
Meanwhile, Karl Malone, the NBA's No. 2 all-time leading scorer, couldn't care less that James didn't even think about including him as a solid candidate for Mount Rushmore.
"I've been left out of lot of things before, but I'm still here," Malone said. "I don't have a Mount Rushmore.
"They don't have any hunting or fishing up there. Hell, I don't have any business up there anyay."
Former Seattle SuperSonics star Slick Watts said there is no NBA Mount Rushmore unless it includes James. Although James is still making his mark on the game, I would agree with Watts.
"You can't leave LeBron James out of a conversation when you talking about one of the best basketball players that ever lived, because of his size, his speed and he's in the now," Watts said. "When you can judge a guy by the present and he's doing it, that means he's really doing a great job.
"So you have to just move that mountain over a little bit. You have to just take a hammer and start picking and move it over, because LeBron is one of the top players."
Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has some serious issues with James' Mount Rushmore.
"They've taken centers off the All-Star ballot and now they can't take centers off Mount Rushmore," Howard said. "So this is my center's ballot.
"One day I want to see my face up there like this. Me being up there with Shaq (O'Neal), Bill Russell, Kareem (Abdul-Jabbar) -- but then you've got Dream (Hakeem Olajuwon)."
That's the problem. Even when Howard chose just a Mount Rushmore of centers, he still couldn't narrow his decision down to only four players.
Too many great players have come through the NBA turnstiles for James to even take the controversial stance he chose to take the other day. It's a lose-lose proposition.
However, James knew he was going to start an avalanche of arguments across the globe with his remarks. But he was more than prepared to put his big boy pants on and deal with the eventual backlash.
"Any time I bring up a subject or answer a question, guys like to dissect it and make it bigger or smaller than what it is," James said. "My personal goal is to be the greatest of all time, and I don't really care what other people say -- pretty, good, neat -- how they define me.
"For me, I have an opportunity to maximize my career to be the greatest of all time. I feel like I can do that and that's my personal goal. There's no reason I couldn't be No. 1."
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