When the Golden State Warriors took a 3-1 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers, most, including myself, deemed the series to be over. I mean, no team in NBA history had ever come back from a 3-1 deficit in the Finals to win a NBA title. So what made Cleveland so special to think that they could make history by being the first team to do so?
Because the best player on the planet plays for the Cavs. And that is exactly what LeBron James did: willed his team out of a 3-1 hole to force a game seven with the Warriors, where he put up a triple-double en route to his third NBA title.
At that moment, when the clock struck triple zeros is when all the questions about James’ legacy ended. He had already accomplished so much his 13-year NBA career, including his two titles with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013, winning the NBA MVP award four times, going to the NBA All-star game 12 times, winning two Olympic gold medals, and the many other accolades and records he can claim sake to. But the one thing that held him back with many of his critics was the 2-4 record be held in the NBA Finals. No one ever questioned James’ greatness as a player, but if he wanted to really be mentioned among greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant, two rings just would not be enough.
James did not play at his best in game four when it mattered, even though he finished with 25 points, 13 rebounds and nine assists. Not to mention that his counterpart, Steph Curry dropped 38 points on James’ home floor to take a commanding series lead. The pressure was on James to deliver, not only for him team, but for himself. Many had already anointed James a top-five all-time player, even with the four Finals losses, but a fifth would put that in jeopardy.
But now, none of that talk matters. James is without a doubt a top-five player of all time, and maybe even higher. And he is only 31.
“Never in the history of the NBA have we seen a more complete player like LeBron James.”
In the next three games following the game four loss, James went on a tear, reminding us why he is the best player in today’s game. His game five stat line read: 41 points, 16 rebounds, and seven assists. In game six he came back with another 41 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds. And in game seven, he put up a typical LeBron James triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists. If there is one thing that we have learned from watching James play is that he willingly accepts pressure, and has delivered more times than not.
“No one ever questioned James’ greatness as a player, but if he wanted to really be mentioned among greats such as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, and Kobe Bryant, two rings just would not be enough.”
Never in the history of the NBA have we seen a more complete player like LeBron James. He has outstanding size, and can score, pass, and play defense with the best of them. This Finals performance really showed how much he can effect a game on both ends of the court, and what it truly means to be the “best” player on the floor. For the second consecutive year, James averaged at least 30 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists in a NBA Finals, which no other player had ever done before. As a matter of fact, James led both teams in points scored, assists, and rebounds, which is NBA first. That is how great he was. Now how can anyone hate on that. I am not the biggest LeBron James fan, but I recognize greatness when I see it, and he might go down as the greatest when it is all said and done.
James silenced all of his critics on the court with his play in this year’s Finals, and he is still in his prime. I see him winning a few more titles, and knocking down a lot of NBA records along the way. His legacy is cemented now, and if he wanted to call it quits today, he could. There is nothing more that he needs to prove on the floor. There will never be another LeBron James, and as long as he is on a NBA team, they will have a chance to play for a NBA title. Hell, he just went to six straight.
“James silenced all of his critics on the court with his play in this year’s Finals, and he is still in his prime.”
James who was named Finals MVP, also silenced his critics off the court. He helped deliver a pro championship to a city that last saw Jim Brown do it 52 years ago. No one ever thought you could win anything in Cleveland, and James proved naysayers wrong by doing so, and did it in history-making fashion. And for James to return to a city that dragged his name through the dirt when he left for Miami in 2010, speaks volumes of his character. It is almost like taking back an ex-lover that cheated on you, and asking them to marry you. To hate a man with that much gratitude in heart is absurd. James has never in trouble off the court, he is a family man, and a well-known philanthropist. I was not much of a fan of James before, but I am now. We all are witnesses.