Best NBA Small Forward Of All Time: Larry Bird Or LeBron James?

The Adam Jones Show

BOSTON (CBS) – A lot of sports fans around the country are rooting for LeBron James and the underdog Cavaliers to win the upcoming NBA Finals, and give Cleveland it’s first world championship since the 1964 Browns.

But if you’re a Celtics fans, you may be rooting for LeBron’s demise in the Finals — besides the obvious reasons, of course.

A good reason to root against LeBron involves one of, if not the best Boston Celtic of all time: Larry Joe Bird.

For a long time Larry Bird has been regarded as the greatest small forward in NBA history, but he may have been, or is about to be surpassed by LeBron James.

98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones says if you want to win that barroom debate on this topic, you should be rooting for a Golden State Warriors series win.

“One of the trump cards [Celtics fans] have is that Bird has won the three titles. That’s one of the very few things you have, because LeBron has two — he’s won two, lost three other ones and he’s now in a sixth,” said Jones.

Jones and Rich Keefe broke down the numbers between the two players, which are very similar.

“They are both two-time Finals MVPs. Bird is a three-time NBA MVP to the four of LeBron James. Bird made 12 All-Star teams, LeBron is at 11 and counting. They both made nine All-NBA first teams. Lebron has made five All-NBA defensive first teams, and Bird never made one. That surprised me. Bird made three defensive second teams but never a first team. They were both rookie of the year,” said Jones.

“LeBron never made the Final Four though,” Keefe joked. “Bird has got him there.”

It’s hard to compare numbers from players of different eras, but LeBron averages more points per game for his career, while Bird pulled down more rebounds per game. They were both very close in assists per game, but LeBron has the advantage there (6.9 assists to Bird’s 6.3).

Interestingly, Bird and James both share the same field goal percentage (.496) for their respective careers, while Bird has the upper hand by far when it comes to three-point percentage (37.6% to 34.2%) and also free throw percentage (88.6% to 74.5%).

Again, it’s hard comparing numbers between eras, but just about the only advantage Bird has left is the rings.

“That is really the only trump card,” said Jones. “In Boston, you’re going to have a hard time defending Larry Bird as the best small forward of all time if LeBron gets another championship.”

Listen below:

Later in the show, Kurt Helin of Pro Basketball Talk called in to discuss the NBA Finals, free agency, and provide some more context as to who is the greatest small forward of all time.

Listen below:

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