Since Stephen Curry claimed his fourth championship last week, many analysts have jumped the gun and claimed that he's officially on the same level as LeBron James, who also happens to have four NBA titles. No disrespect to the greatest shooter in basketball history, but allow me to tell you why this argument is deeply flawed.
LeBron's individual accomplishments are far greater
If we're basing it on just championship rings alone, then sure, Curry and James can be classified on the same tier. However, that's not how NBA rankings work. We've seen it with how the NBA came up with their 75 All-time best players list or when analysts rank the best superstars of all-time — individual accomplishments should always be part of the criteria.
From the individual accomplishments standpoint alone, the Los Angeles Laker is far superior to the Golden State Warrior. James has 4 MVPs, 4 Finals MVPs, 18 All-NBA selections, 5 All-Defensive first-team selections, and 1 assists leader of the season award. Meanwhile, Curry 2 MVPs, 1 Finals MVP, 8 All-NBA selections, and 2 scoring leader of the season awards. It's not difficult to point out who's individually more accomplished.
Granted, Steph has been in the league for 13 years compared to LeBron's 19 seasons, so Curry can still catch up and potentially overtake James in some categories one day. But at the moment, it's vital to point out that James was the best player on all the four championship teams he's played in. That's not something Curry can take pride in because one can argue that he and Kevin Durant were two of the best players in their back-to-back titles together.
With all due respect to the greatness of Curry, James' championships hold greater weight.
Hate the game but not the player
The Steven A. Smiths of the world would argue that Curry is on the same level as James because he forever changed the game. While that is correct, the same energy should be applied to James, who did the same when it comes to being the "do it all" heliocentric player in all of his teams, matchup hunting, being the 3-D forward who can play any position he's asked to and of course, player empowerment.
It's obviously easier to point out Curry's impact because of his shooting powers and overall appeal, but James has also pushed the game forward at an incredible level.
That said, at the end of the day, James and Curry will always be among the best to do it. So it's fun to get in debates where we argue who should be over the other, but as basketball fans, the best side to be on is just to appreciate both of their greatness.
We can always bring one up without tearing the other. At least one day, we all say that we witnessed James and Curry compete in their primes, just like how our parents tell us that they got the chance to watch Magic Johnson and Larry Bird.