Comparing Eras: Lebron James (2008-2009) vs. Oscar Robertson (1961-1962)


LeBron James’ rare combination of skills have often led to him being compared with Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson. In the 1961-62 NBA season, Robertson averaged a triple-double for the season (30.8 pts, 12.5 reb, 11.4 ast), a feat that hasn’t been accomplished before that or since then. LeBron’s impressive 2009 MVP season (28.4 pts, 7.6 reb, 7.2 ast) has left people wondering whether he’s capable of replicating Robertson’s feat.

LeBron will probably never match Robinson’s ’61-’62 season. In that season teams averaged 118.8 points per game, compared to only 100 this past year. Assist(23.9 vs. 20.9) and rebound(71.4 vs. 41.3)  numbers were higher as well. I’ve seen this done several different ways, but lets take a look at where LeBron would stand using these league-wide numbers as a reference point (Era multipliers calculated by dividing the per-game numbers from the ’61-’62 season by the corresponding data from ’08-’09):

LeBron 08-09 Era Multiplier LeBron Adjusted Robertson 61-62
Points 28.4 118.8/100.0=1.18 33.5 30.8
Rebounds 7.6 71.4/41.3=1.72 13.1 12.5
Assists 7.2 23.9/20.9=1.14 8.2 11.4

Using the league-wide per-game numbers to compare the two generations, LeBron’s season seems closer in comparison, but still falls short of the covetted triple-double. LeBron’s numbers are higher than Robertson’s in both points and rebounds, but the assists are not quite there. It’s also worth noting that James played only 37.7 minutes per game, while Robertson averaged 44.3. While its impossible to know whether, LeBron could keep the same level of play for the additional time, adjusting his stats for this would leave him with 39.4 points, 15.4 rebounds, and 9.6 assists.

There’s no way we’ll ever know how these players would compare if they played at the same time and these few statistics definitely don’t tell the whole story, barring the invention of a time machine. We’re watching a spectacular player in LeBron, and “The Big O” is a legend. Its hard to find video from that era, but check out this clip if you’ve never seen Robertson play.

Alex Chalupka - Originally from the Baltimore-Washington area, Alex is a huge Baltimore Ravens and Maryland Terrapins fan who currently resides in Little Rock, Arkansas. He’s also an Orioles fan and follows the NBA and other sports as objectively as possible. He enjoys writing about all sports and is the founder/editor of - Follow him on Twitter here - Visit his personal website

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