Move over Jordan and LeBron, Luka Doncic is the GOAT now
Luka Doncic has surpassed Michael Jordan and LeBron James in the GOAT debate.
Who is the greatest NBA player of all time?
For years, it was a more of a dialogue, with only two sides arguing back and forth between Michael Jordan and LeBron James. Heading into his 14th season, Luka Doncic is rendering that conversation irrelevant.
It's an opinion that's steadily been gaining steam for years now, and while it's typically best to wait until the player's career is over for these kinds of debates, it may be safe to call this race right now.
With the 2030-31 campaign underway, Doncic's accolades in just 12 seasons are already comparable to both MJ and LBJ. He's dominated the 2020s as the new face of the league, winning five titles in the decade. He quelled Giannis Antetokounmpo's potential dynasty with the Milwaukee Bucks before it ever began, usurped LeBron's Los Angeles Lakers, routinely defeated Jayson Tatum's Boston Celtics and smothered fresh Western Conference powerhouses like the Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans and Memphis Grizzlies.
He's won seven MVP awards, surpassing MJ, LeBron and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most in NBA history. He's won four Finals MVPs, one for every time he's won a title. He's made the All-Star Game and All-NBA First Team every year since his second season (that's 11 of each, for the record), led the league in scoring five times and led the league in assists five times. Throw in three All-Star Game MVPs, six seasons averaging a triple-double and a triple-double average over the last decade, and there's no question Doncic is something the sport has never seen before.
That, of course, is in addition to guiding the Dallas Mavericks to four championships, the league's best offense a staggering six times and legitimate dynasty status over the last 10 seasons.
The scary thing is, he's still only 31 years old, with several years left in his prime to build on a decade of dominance.
From the early years with Kristaps Porzingis and Bradley Beal to this new and revamped Mavs squad, one constant has remained: Luka Doncic being a revolutionary NBA offense unto himself. He is what we always hoped James Harden would become: mind-boggling regular-season production backed up by late-game heroics in the playoffs. If it weren't for Beal's slippage in 2025 against the Lakers, Beal's body breaking down completely in 2026 against the Celtics, or Porzingis joining him in 2027 against Devin Booker and Karl-Anthony Towns' Suns the following year, Doncic realistically might have won eight straight titles.
We saw the signs of his playoff brilliance early on, of course. In just his second season, the first time he made the All-Star Game as a starter and earned All-NBA First Team honors, he led the Mavs back to the playoffs as the No. 7 seed. And though Kawhi Leonard and Paul George's LA Clippers prevailed in that first-round matchup, Doncic's magnificent 43-point, 17-rebound, 13-assist performance in Game 4 -- capped off by a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win in overtime -- marked his official coming-out party.
Doncic was a clutch playoff performer in his very first trip to the postseason at age 21, and as the roster around him gradually improved, that knack for delivering in clutch situations only sharpened. Almost overnight, the bridge from Dirk Nowitzki into uncharted territory was solidified with a successor who was more than worthy of wearing the crown. He was living proof that the grass could, in fact, be greener on the other side.
The Mavs became an absolute force to be reckoned with, and they haven't looked back since 2023.
Doncic won his first title in just his fifth season. Beal's decision to flee the Washington Wizards in 2022 free agency is what pushed Dallas over the top, but Doncic's certified moment as the NBA's new alpha -- a process that began two years prior -- was finally cemented with a Larry O'Brien Trophy.
The biggest knock against Doncic is obviously the defensive end. Jordan won a Defensive Player of the Year award and earned nine All-Defensive First Team selections, while James was selected to five All-Defensive First Teams and one All-Defensive Second Team. Luka, meanwhile, doesn't have a single selection to his name. Defense is a significant part of the game, so if the conversation is "Who would you take in a one-on-one matchup?" the conversation will always shift back to Jordan vs. LeBron.
But that's not the argument here. The original question was, "Who is the greatest NBA player of all time?"
LeBron's sustained greatness over such an extended period gave him a longevity factor that even Kareem didn't match. MJ is still the very essence of winning in the modern era, going 6-0 in the Finals and racking up every individual accolade known to basketball. He was a diabolical competitor, while LeBron's battle to overcome so many trials and tribulations stood out.
Luka Doncic is just pure, unbridled basketball joy, and he's matching both LeBron's longevity and MJ's accomplishments all while putting himself on the path to passing the original GOAT duo in championships, team success, career statistics, advanced metrics -- you name it, he's already right there.
LeBron played until he was 45 years old. Luka wasn't blessed with his freakishly chiseled body or otherworldly athleticism, but the craftiness, skill and guile within his game will translate well into his mid- and even late-30s.
Bearing that in mind, no record -- regular season or postseason -- is safe from the Slovenian Sensation, especially with another 4-5 healthy seasons left in his prime.
He is the logic-defying blend of LeBron's sustained greatness and Jordan's infallible dominance all rolled into one. This reign of terror isn't over yet, but even if it is, Luka Doncic has a legitimate stake to claim in the GOAT debate.