Magic Johnson Says LeBron James Is The Best Athlete In The World

Melissa Rohlin

Magic Johnson doesn't just think LeBron James is the best player in the NBA, he thinks he's the best athlete in the world. 

Johnson pointed to the fact that James led the Lakers, who have a bunch of new players, to the best record in the Western Conference at 49-14 before the NBA suspended the season to help try and slow down the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"The Lakers got eight new guys on the team, got a new coach as well, so now [James] had to make an adjustment to all these new faces and he still got the Lakers with the second-best record, he still dominated at a high level," Johnson said on ESPN's First Take on March 26. "Not only is he the MVP, he's the best player in the world." 

At 35 years old and in his 17th season in the league, James was leading the league in assists (10.6), while averaging 25.7 points and 7.9 rebounds before the hiatus. 

At the top of the season, Johnson thought Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo was going to win the MVP award. But Johnson said his mind completely changed over the last few months. 

"When we got to January, and LeBron kept dominating and kept dominating, then on that Friday [March 6] when he beat Milwaukee, he defended the Greek Freak [Antetokounmpo] and did an amazing job, LeBron did, and dominated in scoring and rebounds and assists," Johnson said on First Take. "Then he turned around that Sunday [March 8], they beat the Clippers. Against the two best teams in basketball, besides the Lakers themselves, he dominated on both ends of the court. I said, 'That's your MVP.' So LeBron James, to me, right now if the season ended today, is the MVP of the league."

Over the Lakers' last ten games before the season was stopped, James averaged 30.2 points on 54.6 percent shooting, 9.9 assists and 8.6 rebounds. 

Johnson marveled at James' versatility, comparing him to two of of the all-time greats. 

"LeBron is just like Larry [Bird] and myself," Johnson said on First Take. "He's so unbelievable when he's coming down that court, his head is up, he's always willing to make the pass to make his teammates better. But also too he can go down the middle and dunk on you...He reinvented himself this season because he was posting more. He was taking those guys down, forwards down low, and punishing him in the post. I really enjoy seeing him reinvent himself. That's why he's having this outstanding season, an MVP-type season."

Johnson said that he thinks the NBA hiatus will have a big effect on both James and the Lakers. 

"When you're rolling, when you're playing well, both as an individual and a team, you want to keep playing, you don't want a break," Johnson said on First Take. "So it's going to effect him. Just like Milwaukee and the Greek Freak, it's going to effect them too. So you want as soon as possible for the league to get back." 

Johnson said there's no other athlete in the world who currently compares to James. 

"I like [Kansas City Chiefs quarterback] Patrick Mahomes, but he's no LeBron James," Johnson said on First Take. "And LeBron James is the No. 1 sports player in the world."