LeBron James manufactures his own powerful incentive. The Cavaliers star doesn’t need to post what other guys say on the locker room wall to get his game face on. But if he did… then there might be a hurtin’ in the future of Bulls rookie Denzel Valentine. Valentine was merey trying to deliver praise when he spoke his poster-worthy sentence. Valentine had just seen 76ers rookie Ben Simmons doing his amazing thing and — like anybody trying to describe in glowing terms a big man who can do it all on the basketball court — Valentine reached for LeBron James by way of comparison.
Valentine, who was the 14th pick in the draft (13 picks behind Ben Simmons), said of the No. 1 pick: “He’s like a mini-LeBron. LeBron’s probably top 10, so if he’s a mini-LeBron that’s saying a lot.” Most people believe that LeBron James, especially after his 2015-16 season, is “top ten” all-time — no probably necessary. Sure, the rankings game can get muddy, what with the impossibility of justly comparing players from different eras, etc. The dust never settles on the GOAT argument or much else. But keep an eye out for the first time 6′ 6″ 22-year-old Denzel Valentine finds himself matched up against LeBron James next season. If they’re mic’d up, you might hear James mention “top ten, huh?” while Valentine tries to explain he meant it as praise. Watch especially for the James dunk that follows.