Square Up: Will LeBron James Ever Be the G.O.A.T.?

Complex's new debate show pits four staffers facing off head-to-head, duking it out over the most divisive questions of the moment.

This week, we discuss LeBron James as he comes off another disappointing NBA Finals loss. After leading the Cavaliers to their third straight NBA Finals appearance, and coming off of last year's amazing comeback against the Warriors, LeBron couldn't lead his crew past Golden State. Despite averaging a triple-double and becoming the first player in NBA history to lead a playoff series in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and steals, LeBron had nothing to show for a truly historic performance. But does the fact that LeBron is now 3-5 in the NBA Finals tarnish his legacy? 

And what about Lil B? Is the rapper famous for cursing people the reason the Cavs lost 4-1 in the Finals and Kevin Durant was named NBA Finals MVP? And, most pressing of all, we question whether LeBron, at age 32, has peaked. 

Find out who has the hottest take (or is it takedown?) on our first episode of Square Up.

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How Rhude, One of the Best L.A. Brands, Started With a Single T-Shirt

In 2012, Rhuigi Villasenor designed a black/white paisley bandana T-shirt. “It was a nod to West Coast culture,” says the 25-year-old L.A.-based designer. It was the very first thing he created for Rhude, the brand he founded a year later, and the piece that helped catapult the label.

Kendrick [Lamar] wanted the T-shirt,” says Villasenor. “Snoop [Dogg] was like, ‘I need about 100 of those.’”

Villasenor had no intention of selling the T-shirt at first. “I didn’t want anyone else to have my look,” he says. But he eventually gave it to Lamar, who wore black and red versions to the BET Awards. “It was beautiful,” he says. “It changed my life.”

Kendrick Lamar Rhude Bandana tee
Kendrick Lamar wearing Rhude Black Bandana T-shirt. (Image via Getty)

At the encouragement of his friends Chris Stamp and Guillermo Andrade, designers of Stampd and 424, respectively, Villasenor also made the bandana T-shirt available to the public. “Chris was like, ‘If you don’t make the shirt, I will,’” Villasenor says with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Oh shit! I gotta make this.’” Soon, other brands were making knock-offs of his design.

Since then, Rhude has built a solid fanbase. The brand, which has expanded from tees to a full line, is one of the best men’s labels around. It’s been worn by celebrities—Big Sean, ASAP Rocky, Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler, Offset, Future, Bella Hadid—and sold at dozens of the best retailers, such as Barneys, SSENSE, Patron of the New, 424, and Union.

Big Sean Wearing Rhude Peace Camo Hoodie
Big Sean wearing Rhude Peace Camo hoodie. (Image via Getty)

Born in Manila, Philippines, Villasenor was always interested in clothing but a career in fashion didn’t seem viable. His father, who was an architect, wanted him to work in the medical field. “The arts is something they frown upon in the Filipino culture,” he explains. “So I didn’t think about that at all.”

But during his senior year of high school, he started working with TISA, the clothing label by producer and Kanye West collaborator Taz Arnold, helping in any way he could. (He met Arnold at one of TISA’s parties in L.A.) “I was consulting, I did videos and campaigns,” he says. He wasn’t being paid, but he considered the experience valuable. “At the time, I thought TISA was the first driving force in L.A. ever. Prices were increasing, and kids were purchasing. After [TISA], it was like a domino effect. You couldn’t see kids spend just $20 on a T-shirt anymore.”

Kendrick Lamar Rhude Bandana tee
Image via Getty

From there, he began taking pattern making classes and assisting stylists for guys like Big Sean. At 19, he interned for British menswear designer Shaun Samson. “At the time, [Comme des Garcons designer] Rei Kawakubo had just said he was an influential designer so I was like, ‘Damn. If Rei Kawakubo is calling him that then I gotta pay attention,” he says. “Shaun taught me so much about design.”

Growing up, his family had very little money and he couldn’t afford the clothes he wanted to wear. So, he decided to make his own. “It was hard to get fresh,” he says. “You had to create your own, start boosting, or wear bootleg. I wasn’t about to be the kid that wore bootleg.” In 2013, he launched Rhude.

Rhude Fall/Winter 2017
Rhude's Fall/Winter 2017 “Motorpsycho” Collection. (Image via Rhude)

Rhude borrows from Villasenor’s personal stories and relationships. The moniker itself honors his family’s tradition of names that start with “Rh.” Many of the collections are extensions of his emotions and experiences. The Spring 2016 “Sugarland” collection—ripped jeans, tees with cigarette burns, and logo-heavy jackets—was inspired by a breakup with a girl he spent a lot of time with in Texas. “I envisioned a kid who was trying to break out of a small city but didn’t really know how to find a way out,” he explains. “The kid ends up joining the military, comes back with PTSD, and is lost.” The theme bleeds into Rhude’s Spring/Summer 2017 “Electric Eather” and Fall/Winter 2017 “Motorpsycho” collections. “‘Electric Earth’ would be the recover from that breakup,” says Villasenor. “‘Motorpsycho would be the, ‘I’m done. I’m hanging out.’ It’s like I’m writing volumes.”

Rhude Spring 2016
Rhude's Spring 2016 “Sugarland” Collection. (Image via Rhude)

Rhude is still a relatively small operation, with only a staff of six full-time employees. But Villasenor has big plans for his brand. In a few weeks, he’ll release Rhude’s trendy track pants, which ASAP Rocky has already been seen wearing. Later this year, he’ll expand the brand to include womenswear and footwear, as well as a possible collaboration with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White label. “Virgil and I are figuring that out,” he says. “That Off-White x Rhude.” (The pair recently made tie-dye hoodies for friends and family only.) He hopes to someday open a flagship store in Sugar Land, Texas, but one more similar to the Prada Marfa, a permanently installed sculpture by artists Elmgreen and Dragset also in Texas, than a traditional brick and mortar.

“I’m about to take over the world,” he says.

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Kevin Durant Claps Back at Twitter Trolls Who Are Talking Trash

The NBA Finals are over, which means Kevin Durant is back on Twitter.

KD has a lot of time on his hands, basking in the glory of his first NBA title. Apparently, he has so much time that he took it upon himself to address a few Twitter users who have been all up in his mentions with their hot takes and other random insults. Here’s him going in a few days ago:

Today, Durant is still being a savage. It all started when he complemented Phoenix Mercury’s Diana Taurasi, who became the WNBA’s all-time scoring leader following the team’s win against the Los Angeles Sparks (90-59) in L.A. From there, KD was having some fun, getting into an argument with one superfan from OKC. A “fart in your face” insult was actually hurled.

At this point, you're probably wondering why KD is even engaging in social media at all. Everyone needs to blow off steam somehow, right?

But this might be the real reason. Says “the legend”:

LOL. Nice curve.

Keep doing you, KD.

Send all complaints, compliments, and tips to sportstips@complex.com.

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Here’s Everything LeBron James Had to Say After Cavaliers Fell to Warriors in 2017 NBA Finals

As LeBron James and Kyrie Irving walked off the court at Oracle Arena on Monday night after losing their 2017 NBA Finals series to the Warriors, LeBron was spotted putting his arm around his teammate and telling him that the Cavaliers will be back in the Finals for a fourth straight season next year.

“We’ll be back,” LeBron said, “me and you. We’ll be back.”

And LeBron is right. The Cavaliers will, in all likelihood, be back in the Finals next season. As they showed during the 2017 NBA Playoffs, they’re still on a completely different level when compared to all of the other teams in the Eastern Conference, so they should make a return to the Finals in 2018.

But in the immediate aftermath of the Cavaliers’ loss to the Warriors, LeBron—who became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double during the Finals this year—didn’t spend too much time talking about the future. Instead, he talked to reporters about how he was feeling about losing to the Warriors just one year after beating them in the Finals. He also shared his feelings on the concept of “superteams.” And he reflected on the season the Cavaliers just had. Here’s a quick rundown of everything LeBron discussed after the Finals ended.

On what it felt like to lose to the Warriors in the Finals in five games: “I left everything on the floor every game, all five games. So for me personally, I have nothing to be—I have no reason to put my head down. I have no reason to look back at what I could have done or what I shouldn’t have done or what I could have done better for the team. I left everything I had out on the floor every single game for five games this Finals.”

On how the NBA is going to deal with the Warriors moving forward: “I don’t know. I need to sit down and figure this thing out. And so I don’t know as far as me personally right now. But as far as that team, they’re going to be here for a while. They’re going to be around for a while. Pretty much all their guys are in their 20s. Pretty much all their big-name guys are in their 20s, and they don’t show any signs of slowing down.”

On whether or not this was his best individual Finals performance: “This is my eighth trip to the Finals, and I’ve had some pretty good ones in my day. And like I said, I just try to do everything to just try to help this team win and more. For me to go out there and for the guys that allowed me to be the leader that I am and allow me and trust me that I’m going to make the right plays and I’m going to do the right things and have the right intention, that’s a compliment to my guys.”

On why he won’t take much time off this summer: “It’s just a lifestyle for me. So I probably will be back in the my gym in the next couple days just because it’s just who I am. As far as being back on the basketball court, I’m going to take a while. I don’t need to be back on the basketball court right now. I need to get off of my feet and let my joints and let my body kind of recover from being out on the floor for 14 straight years. But I’ll train. I’ll train all summer. It’s just a part of who I am now.”

On why he doesn’t believe in the concept of “superteams”: “I don’t believe I’ve played for a superteam. I don’t believe in that. I don’t believe we’re a superteam here.”

On how he feels about Kevin Durant winning his first NBA title: “I’m not happy he won his first. I’m not happy at all. But at the end of the day, from when I played him in the 2012 Finals to now, like I said, experience is the best teacher in life, and he’s just experiencing and experiencing and experiencing. And it also helps when you are able to experience some things with this team as well. He felt like he needed to reassemble and reassess his career and come here…Getting that first championship for me was like having my first son. It was just a proud moment, something that you never, ever forget. And at the end of the day, nobody can—no matter what anybody says from now on in your career or whatever they say, they can never take away from you being a champion. That’s something that they are always going to speak about, about you.”

As LeBron told Kyrie Irving after the Finals ended on Monday, the Cavaliers will likely try to become champions again next season. But for now, LeBron sounds like a guy who is ready for a break. And after seeing everything he was able to accomplish this season, he definitely earned it.

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The Craziest NBA Finals Game Ever Just Delayed the Inevitable

CLEVELAND — It started off with a crazy 49-point first quarter from the Cavs, who finished with an even crazier 86 points at halftime. That was topped by the craziest third quarter the NBA Finals has ever seen when a series worth of soap opera like drama was squeezed into 12 minutes. 

Game 4 of the NBA Finals was­ wild, ridiculous, and absurd. We saw Cleveland go bonkers on offense in the first half, the refs call 51 fouls, the seemingly random rescinding of a technical on Draymond Green, and some extracurricular activities from superstars and role players alike that will be dissected for the next two days. When it was all said and done, the Cavs were 137-116 winners and extended the series at least one more game with a physical effort we hadn’t seen through the series' first three contests.  

“We took it to them first and that was very telling for the rest of the game,” Kevin Love said.

So here we are again. The Warriors are up 3-1 and headed back to the West Coast. And while we can draw as many parallels as we want to last year’s historic NBA Finals, the Cavs extending the series only feels like we’re delaying the inevitable this time around.

But before we get to that, Cleveland should be commended for preventing the Warriors from becoming the only team in NBA history to go 16-0 in the postseason. Their chance to do that was pretty much over early Friday as the Cavs blitzed Golden State for an NBA Finals record 49 points in the first quarter and an NBA Playoffs record 86 points after two. And they kept shooting lights out the rest of the way. Cleveland finished shooting 52.9 percent from the field and made an NBA Finals record 24 3-pointers. Through the first three games of the series, Cleveland had only made 31 threes.

Quicken Loans Arena was rocking as the Cavs treated their fans to a rollicking performance led by Kyrie Irving’s 40 points. LeBron James recorded his 9th NBA Finals triple-double, surpassing Magic Johnson for the all-time mark, going for 31, 11, and 10 while Love added 23 and J.R, Smith contributed 15.

“We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”

It was a feel good night for the Cavs and their fans, for sure. The crowd was hyped from the start and the Cavs, who were ripe to be blown out following Game 3’s devastating loss, fed off their energy. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said there was no special pregame speech. He liked his squad’s attitude during the morning’s shootaround. “Guys were upbeat. No hanging heads,” he said. Maybe the Warriors were too caught up in chasing history? 

“I don’t think there was any thoughts or concerns about history,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We played a desperate team at home and they came out and handed it to us. Simple as that.”

This one will be remembered for the truly bizarre third quarter. We had LeBron’s self-pass off the backboard for a dunk that will go down as one of the Finals’ most memorable plays. Later on, the King and Kevin Durant were jawing at each other and drew duel techs. “We weren't coming to blows, we were just talking,” Durant said. A little over a minute after that, Green was tossed for earning a second technical before he wasn’t. The refs ended up giving it to Steve Kerr instead. Finally, we saw Groingate v. 2017 when it looked like Zaza Pachulia took a swipe at Iman Shumpert’s sensitive area during a scrum for a loose ball.

NBA conspiracy theory junkies will have a field day dissecting that and all the fouls called by the refs in Cleveland's favor, especially in the first quarter. With the Finals enjoying some of their highest ratings in years, we all know the league really wants it to extend as long as possible and early on the zebras seemingly did their part. The Cavs went to the free throw line 22 times in the first 12 minutes. Somewhere in the bowels of Quicken Loans Arena, or back in New York—wherever he was—it was like commissioner Adam Silver was pulling all the right strings to at least extend the Finals to five games.

LeBron Draymond KD Zaza NBA Finals Game 4 2017
Image via USA Today Sports/Ken Blaze

But does this really change anything? Has momentum swung back in the Cavs favor? The Cavs deserve credit for not rolling over and letting the Warriors celebrate a title on their floor. They were gritty, gutty, and grimy, playing physical for the first time all series and roughing up the Warriors. But let’s be real here: the Warriors were their own worst enemy in Game 4. Featuring a ton of isolation and practically none of their signature run and gun offense or precision ball movement, the second half saw the Warriors brick a ton threes and settle for low percentage long twos. Golden State finished shooting 28.2 percent from beyond the arc, well below their 39.6 percent average this postseason. Yes, the Cavs are the second best team in the league and getting one of the Warriors shouldn’t come as a surprise. But the Dubs were due for a dud.

“It was one of those nights where we didn’t have anything clicking,” Steph Curry said

The “Cavs in 7’ chant that broke near the end of the game was cute, an ode to the tweet JR Smith claims he didn’t send out following Game 3. But the chances the Cavs faithful see their team play again in person are slim to none. The Warriors were garbage in Game 4, a hot mess on offense, and now they’re headed home where they have lost just once in their last 16 games. They’ve been the superior team three out of four games. They were the superior team during the regular season and during their run to the Finals. They have a potential championship clinching Game 5 Monday in Oracle Arena where they trounced Cleveland in the first two games of the series and once back in January. Draymond won't be suspended for Game 5 like last year. And most importantly they still have more firepower and more superstars than the Cavs, starting with the biggest difference maker, KD.

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The Cavs Gave Game 3 Away and Now We’re One Win Away From a Warriors Coronation

CLEVELAND — In the middle of his answer, Kyrie Irving sighed, still shivering from a post-game trip to the cold tub. What else could he do when he was asked why the Cavs blew their chance to make the NBA Finals an actual series?

Because for a few fleeting moments it looked like we had one. After two blowouts in Oakland, the Cavs and the Warriors treated basketball fans to a Game 3 that was a riveting, dramatic, and one the Cavs and their fans are going to lose a lot of sleep analyzing how they gave it away.

The Cavs should have won Wednesday after they got another big effort from LeBron James and Irving finally arrived on the big stage with a magical performance. Quicken Loans Arena was popping. The Cleveland faithful had watched their two superstars ball out to the tune of 77 combined points and looked like they were on the verge of earning a hard fought victory over the supremely talented Warriors. 

But the Cavs couldn’t execute offensively over the final few minutes, had mental lapses on defense, and watched the biggest difference maker in the series knock down a stone cold three to give the Warriors a one-point lead with 12.9 seconds to go. So instead of walking off winners and feeling like the NBA Finals was finally a competitive series, the defending NBA champions sulked off the court shell shocked, 118-113 losers, and now will have to play their hearts out just to prevent the Warriors from celebrating an NBA championship on their home floor Friday. 

“It definitely hurts. I'm human, as well as my teammates, and to lay it all on the line like that, you want to come out on the winning side,” said Irving. “But we gave a great effort, and the result just didn't turn out the way we wanted to.”

Now Game 4 is setting up to be a coronation for the greatest team in NBA postseason history. The Warriors improved to 15-0 in the playoffs because they had enough firepower to overcome James's 39 points and Irving's 38 and because the biggest difference maker of the series, Kevin Durant, hit that game-changing three that was a dagger through the hearts of the Cavs. 

“I just tried to stay disciplined in my shot, hold my follow through, and it went in,” Durant said. “But more importantly we got two stops after that.”

It didn’t have to be this way, of course. But the reasons the NBA Finals are basically over are obvious. The Cavaliers’ execution down the stretch was atrocious. James bore a heavy burden of the blame for not driving to the basket down the stretch despite the Cavs scoring 46 points in the paint. He too often deferred to teammates who hoisted bad shots or even crappier threes. Cleveland didn't score a point over the final 3:09. For the second straight game, the Cavs shot 27 percent from three. Overall, the Cleveland shot 44.4 percent from the field.

LeBron James Game 3 NBA Finals 2017 Post Game
Image via USA Today Sports/David Richard

“I gave everything I had tonight. So win, lose, or draw, you live with the results,” James said. “Like I said, they played a really good game as well, but they made shots, they made shot down the stretch. They got stops, which they have been doing. We shot in the low 40s again. They got stops and then they made play after play down the stretch.​”

Durant finished with 31 points and had 14 in the fourth quarter to lead the comeback. Klay Thompson was the unsung hero for the Warriors going for 30 on 11-of-18 shooting including 6-of-11 from three. Steph Curry added 26 and was the Warriors leading rebounder with 13.” 

While the Warriors swear a perfect postseason has never been on their mind during this run, they changed their tune after Game 3. 

“It is now because we took care of tonight,” Curry said. “It's not in terms of like 16-0 really just of what that means historically, it's just that's what's in front of us. We obviously know how hard it is to win a championship, what all goes into it and how important each game is. And now that you can look ahead to Friday, all our focus is on that. And just we obviously—we want 16 wins; it doesn't matter how we get there.”

The off-season appears imminent for the Cavs, which is shocking because when your two best players play that well, you shouldn't lose games. You should extend series. Except when you're playing the greatest team in NBA postseason history. 

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Joe Budden and DJ Akademiks Debate If Lil Yachty’s Debut Album Flopped

On today's Everyday Struggle, Joe Budden, DJ Akademiks, and Nadeska listen to the new Jay Electronica song and try to determine whether or not they're still waiting on his album. They also break down Tyga's career to this point and if the door is closed on his potential comeback. The crew also check out the snippet of the leaked LeBron James and Kevin Durant rap song from 2011 and imagine who has the best verse. Later, Budden and Akademiks debate over Lil Yachty's first week numbers for Teenage Emotions before going through their best albums of the year, so far. 

 

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Let’s All Acknowledge Game 1’s Real MVP: Rihanna

Let's get the obvious out of the way: there was a basketball game on Thursday night. It was Game 1 of the NBA finals. Some shots were taken, people ran up and down the court and stuff, and the Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-91.

But to many people who watched (and announced, and played in) the game, the real star wasn't LeBron or Steph Curry, but rather Rihanna. The pop star was in the audience for Game 1, and was not shy about letting it be known who she was rooting for—and against.

From courtside, she apparently heckled KD during a free throw.

And Durant definitely noticed.

He later denied that he was looking at her specifically, but come on.

Jeff Van Gundy, who was calling the game, acted exactly like any of us would, national TV audience or no, when RiRi walked by.

And then there was the bow. In one incredible sequence, Rihanna bows to LeBron, dabs, and then gives attitude to someone nearby who dared to try and get her to sit down.

As she left, the NBA's new favorite was escorted out by the NBA's new favorite commissioner.

And the best was still to come. Immediately post-game, a fan luxuriated in the Warriors' victory. Rihanna's LeBron-inspired response? “It doesn't matter, bitch. The King is still in the house.”

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Paul Pierce Compares Kevin Durant Teaming With Warriors to Kid Teaming With Bullies Who Beat Him Up

Paul Pierce wasn’t a big fan of Kevin Durant’s decision to leave the Thunder and join the Warriors last summer. He sent out this tweet a short time after KD announced his decision:

He also did an interview with SiriusXM NBA Radio a few months later and expressed his displeasure with KD taking his talents to Oakland. “I’m an old school guy,” Pierce said at the time. “I’m a competitor…When you want to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best. That’s always been something that’s driven me. Today’s day and age, a lot of these guys are friends. That’s like if Bird decided to go play with Magic or something.”

It prompted a response from KD’s new teammate Draymond Green, who fired shots back at Pierce. But apparently, it didn’t soften Pierce’s stance on the situation. Because on Tuesday, Pierce appeared on ESPN’s The Jump and once again talked about KD leaving Oklahoma City to team up with Golden State. And he compared it to a kid teaming up with a group of bullies who beat him up.

“I’m not a guy who goes into the neighborhood, gets beat up by the bully’s gang, and then now I want to join their gang,” Pierce said. “[That’s] just not me. I want to fight. Let’s go! I mean, I’m gonna stand up for myself. That’s just the competitive nature of where I come from, the era I grew up in.”

Pierce isn’t the only former or current NBA player who has criticized KD for joining the Warriors. But he has been one of his most outspoken critics, and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to let KD off the hook for it anytime soon. KD, meanwhile, seems to be at peace with his decision and has stopped responding to players like Pierce who have been critical of him. You can check out Pierce’s full KD rant in the clip above.

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