LeBron James’ career is currently up for debate for GOAT (Greatest of All-Time) status alongside the likes of Michael Jordan and others, but many NBA purists aren’t exactly fond of his game for many different reasons.
Chief among them is King James and his penchant for bending the travels (whether intentional or not), namely when it comes to traveling violations.
Scrutiny has increased on LeBron in this modern day era where James Harden seemingly invents a controversial new move that may or not be a travel every single season, and travels appear to be called more loosely than ever before.
Perhaps the most egregious travel of LeBron’s career happened in Utah during which he picks up the ball and begins walking with it not long after passing center court (see below).
James is also known for taking extra steps on his way to his trademark thunder dunks as well.
Visual Evidence: Larry Bird Shown in LeBron Style Travel
While watching a compilation of Larry Bird dunks recently, I noticed something a little odd: “Larry Legend” caught in a three-step travel on his way to the basket.
It caught me off guard in large part because Bird has always been seen as one of the greatest fundamental basketball players in league history, and because such egregious travels seemed so rare during the 80s and 90s.
The play happens at the 12-second mark in the video shown here:
Bird Was More Than Meets the Eye
While Bird is capable of getting out and running in the open court, oftentimes passing like a point guard (perhaps inspired by his legendary counterpart Magic Johnson), most of his game was predicated on getting to spots in the half court where he could post up and unleash his deadly back to the basket game, directing his teammates like chess pieces and making the perfect passes at the perfect times.
Bird didn’t always look like he had the strength to post up, but his fundamentals and technique were unmatched, allowing him to get to his spots and hold position like few others.
After a few quarters of watching passes and dead-eye fadeaway jumpers fall zip over their heads, many NBA defenders simply got tired and began making mistakes against the crafty Bird.
Even Dennis Rodman, the mature 26-year-old rookie for the Detroit Pistons and one of the greatest defenders in NBA history, found out first hand, as he was posterized for a surprising Larry Bird dunk for the ages during Game 2 of the 1987 NBA Finals (watch the full clip here).
Bird might not have had the runaway-freight-train combination of speed, athleticism and power that James had, but he had a style all his own that hasn’t really been duplicated since.
But as the clip above shows, he was no slouch when it came to throwing it down on the break either, even if he did get away with his fair share of travels along the way.
What Goes Around Comes Around: Bird Watches LeBron Travel Courtside
Several years later in the playoffs against LeBron and the Cavaliers, Bird watched courtside as “The King” gets away with one of the most egregious travels of all-time.
What goes around, comes around, as a Bird bemoans in this clip (warning: unsavory language ahead):