THE MULTIVERSE—Aiming to settle the longstanding debate over LeBron James’ place within basketball history, Grantland editor-in-chief Bill Simmons reportedly stepped into an interdimensional vortex Thursday to determine if the Miami Heat star would have dominated in other NBA eras.
Reports confirmed the longtime ESPN columnist created various ripples in the fabric of space-time and opened the door to an infinite cascade of universes in which James matched up against the best players from each period of NBA history.
“We can already label LeBron as the best player of his generation—that debate is all but over—but the big question is whether he would have been the top guy during the way more physical, pre-hand-check-rule NBA,” said Simmons, who reportedly warped through a cluster of dark matter to watch James face off against the Chicago Bulls in the 1991 Eastern Conference Finals as a member of Chuck Daly’s Detroit Pistons. “He just wouldn’t get the calls back then that he gets in 2014.”
“That said, even with players literally getting clotheslined while driving to the basket, LeBron is big enough and strong enough to cope with the physicality of the ’90s,” continued Simmons, carefully watching as James received the ball from Isaiah Thomas and then darted through Scottie Pippen and Bill Cartwright for a heavily contested dunk. “But I still can’t see him winning more than two championships while the Bulls were at their peak. He’d win, but he wouldn’t have a dynasty.”
Pinning the four-time MVP against a variety of iconic players such as Bill Russell, Jerry West, and Larry Bird, Simmons reportedly vibrated his subatomic particles through a number of time streams and planes of reality, enabling the sports columnist to venture across any conceivable point within limitless parallel universes in order to appraise the theoretical scenarios in person.
“LeBron is, in a lot of ways, the most complete player we’ve ever seen, especially in terms of pure physical attributes and basketball IQ,” Simmons said as every molecule in his body gradually materialized in the mouth of a Lorentzian traversable wormhole that opened courtside at the Forum in 1985. “And based on how he’s holding his own against Kareem [Abdul-Jabbar], who’s arguably the toughest player to guard ever, there’s no doubt that he would have been a powerhouse during the Magic-Bird era of the ’80s.”
Sources indicated that Simmons then manipulated the universal wave function to enter an isolated pocket dimension where Oscar Robertson, his body retroactively strengthened by modern 21st-century training methods and diet regimens, narrowly lost to James in a one-on-one game held in an endless expanse of empty white space. However, while occupying a Hubble volume within the Level III multiverse hypothesized by Dr. Max Tegmark, the 44-year-old sports writer reportedly questioned whether James would have been as prolific a scorer in the 1960s after seeing the 1964 Boston Celtics beat the 2012 Miami Heat in a 1010,000,000-game series.
“No one is questioning his skills, but he just doesn’t have that killer instinct that Jordan had,” Simmons said as a team of five 28-year-old Michael Jordans defeated five 28-year-old LeBron Jameses—a discovery that led the Grantland editor-in-chief to conclude that the Jordans were “clearly playing in full-blown ‘Eff You’ mode.” “LeBron’s definitely in the conversation of best player ever, but MJ is still at the top of the pyramid.”
“At the end of the day, Jordan is the CT to LeBron’s Adam on The Challenge—there’s only going to be one winner in a head-to-head matchup,” added Simmons, the dissonant echoes of his voice repeating at various octaves in an infinite, crescendoing loop.
According to reports, Simmons continued to venture into increasingly divergent quantum branches, at one point watching James record two touchdowns and 131 yards as a wide receiver for the Cleveland Browns during a regular-season loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Simmons reportedly went on to later—as well as earlier and simultaneously—travel at the speed of light along an arcwise-connected manifold and enter a timeline in which John F. Kennedy survived Lee Harvey Oswald’s 1963 assassination attempt and where a James-led Team USA subsequently won gold over the Soviet Union at the 2008 Summer Olympics in Baghdad.
“LeBron is obviously a Pantheon-level guy who would have been an All-Star in any decade,” said Simmons, his very being and consciousness spreading apart along a 26-dimensional space comprised of bosonic strings. “But the fact remains that he struggled to take ‘alpha dog’ status from Wilt Chamberlain when they played together on the San Francisco Warriors, and he was Robin to Jabari Parker’s Batman when the Milwaukee Bucks won their second straight championship in 2017.”
At press time, a satisfied Bill Simmons migrated into a gravitational vacuum linked to an alternate reality to view the season-nine premiere of the hit NBC show Friday Night Lights.