LeBron James made another strong argument for his MVP case two nights ago, as the Cavaliers fell to the Detroit Pistons on the road despite James registering his 8th triple-double of the season. It was the 50th of his career, marking the most triple-doubles he has registered in a single season, eclipsing his mark of seven in multiple campaigns.

It wasn’t just the triple-double that was impressive, but James put on a dunk show which included two separate posters, and had eight thunderous slams in total on the evening. James was superb, but his teammates underwhelmed again, and despite the loss, James’ argument for league MVP gained momentum.

It was obvious on the night that the Cavaliers are a shadow of the team without James on the floor, as they relinquished three separate healthy leads when the finals MVP sat on the bench during the contest.

In the past two games, the Cavs have been outscored 64-19 in the 18 minutes James has sat on the bench. Also, in the past two contests, James has been on the floor for 77 minutes and 46 seconds and the Cavs are +32. With James off the floor, they’re -45 in 18 minutes and 14 seconds. Its extraordinary for a team that are defending champions, but it truly highlights how valuable James has been on every single team he’s played for since entering the league.

Despite his team’s win, Stan Van Gundy has recognized James’ greatness for some time, and after the game, the Pistons coach declared that James could very well and truly be the greatest player that ever played the game.

“He’s a guy who puts pressure on the defense and makes the right play. If he gets to the rim he finishes, if he’s got an open shot he takes it, if you come he makes a pass. I mean, he’s the consummate professional basketball player,” Van Gundy told Will Burchfield of CBS Detroit. “You can make a very, very, very strong argument that he’s the best that’s ever played this game.”

“I mean, the guy’s incredible. He’s just a great, great, great player. Look, you play him the best you can and hopefully we’ll do a better job going forward. I thought we were really late helping, I didn’t think we anticipated our helps very well and then I don’t think that we challenged him at the rim very well,” Van Gundy said. “But he’s a fabulous player.”

“I mean, you look and it’s a pretty amazing stat. In the 39 minutes he plays, they’re plus-18 with him on the floor, which means in the nine minutes he was on the bench – only nine minutes – we outscored them by 23,” Van Gundy said. “I don’t know if that’s good or bad or what, but that’s what happened.”

With James attacking on the night and getting anything he wanted offensively, Van Gundy was then asked if he’d prefer to see James as a passer when found in isolation matchups, but Van Gundy smiled and shook his head.

“Nah, you know what, I wouldn’t say that. Again, 10 assists today, and there’s a lot of times he’s more dangerous as a passer than as a scorer,” said Van Gundy. “You’re picking your poison with him.”

The kid from Akron could well and truly be the greatest player to ever step on the NBA hardwood, and Van Gundy may recognize that more than anyone.