The King has done it again
There is a mix of different opinions on this topic. What we can not look past, is that Lebron James has done it again. For the eighth straight time, Lebron will appear in the NBA Finals. In my opinion, James has become the greatest player ever to play in the history of the NBA. The King has made a strong case.
Yes, strong words. I am sure, I will hear a ton of hatred for this. Jordan and Kobe’s supporters, currently foaming at the mouth to throw some backlash. Allow me to explain myself. First, let me ask you a question? Why is it a sin to the basketball gods, to even say this?
Let us first take a look at everything in perspective. We can begin with this tweet.
LeBron James has won 6 straight Game 7s and moves to 6-2 in Game 7s in his career. This will be his 8th straight NBA Finals appearance.
James will become the 6th player in NBA history to play in 8 straight Finals (joining 5 players from Celtics teams of the 1950s-60s) pic.twitter.com/PWI17QstYz
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 28, 2018
If you look at the NBA in the 50s and 60s, there were 12-16 teams, depending on the era. Currently, there are 30 and you must win 3 series, to even get to the finals. So, that in itself is impressive. I also understand that he was a member of a super team for 4 of those appearances in Miami.
Jordan, Kobe, LBJ Comparison
Most people believe these 3 to be the top players in league history but differ in their rankings. Some of this occurs because of pure King James hate. Others argue, that Lebron, does not have the killer instinct Kobe did. Others will just say Jordan never lost. No matter how your view. It is fair to say Lebron has done more with less than any of them in his last 4 title runs.
Michael Jordan (6X Champ, Finals Record 6-0, Titles: 1991-93, 1996-1998, 6X Finals MVP)
Jordan as a player will always be the benchmark, his numbers speak for themselves. 6 Title appearances, 6 Wins, an undefeated record. Along with 6 Championship MVP awards, he makes his case extremely difficult to dethrone. While not impossible, to fathom, it just is hard to imagine.
Kobe Bryant (5X Champ, Finals Record 5-2 Titles: 2000-2002, 2009-2010, 2X Finals MVP)
Kobe has finals losses. But he does have 5 Titles, 2 of which he was the centerpiece. He also was able to win with teams built in different ways. The most important aspect of Kobe’s dynasty is loyalty. He never left, to go chase a title, by teaming up with other stars.
Lebron James (3X Champ, Finals Record 3-4 Titles: 2012-2013, 2016, 3X Finals MVP)
Lebron has more losses in the Championship than any of the above mentioned. He also left his situation in Cleveland to build a super team in Miami. The backlash as a result of this is most likely the biggest criticisms of Lebron’s career and legacy.
Putting everything in perspective, there are a few numbers, we should look at. Lebron’s team have won a remarkable 24 straight Eastern Conference playoff series. That is a remarkable feat. Think about free agency, 3 to 4-year deals and the building of super teams in this NBA era. He has not even slipped up once. Sure he has been pushed to 7 a few times. When his back is against the wall, is when he delivers most. Take a look at Sunday nights game. A game 7 in a hostile environment, against a more talented opponent. Lebron delivered. The Celtics were 10-0 at home in the playoffs prior and looked overmatched. Lebron, well he did this. The team scored 87 points, LBJ scored 35 and 9 assists, he was responsible for at least 53 points. This translates to roughly 61 percent of the team’s entire output. Plus he played all 48 minutes and is 34. It is unreal.
Here it is Tuesday and I am still in shock. Kevin Love is the Cavs, second best player, he was gone after 5 minutes of game 6. Lebron won games 6 and 7 by himself. I am also aware, that Hayward and Kyrie were out for the Celtics. They still have a more talented roster from top to bottom.
Game 6 Numbers: 46 points, 9 assists, 46 minutes, team total 109 points, 59 percent of the total offense.
Game 7 Numbers: 35 points, 9 assists, 48 minutes, team total, 87 points, 61 percent of the total offense.
The Cavaliers are this. Lebron James, and then these guys:
Kyrie Irving, who demanded a trade from Cleveland, because he wanted to be the man, got his wish. He was dealt to the Celtics in the offseason. He could not even be in the building. He needed time to fix his face. No need for another waxing by the King.
Jordan | Kobe | Lebron
Jordan’s six titles were consecutive 3 peats over an 8 year period. He may have gotten 8 in a row. We will never know as he took off to try to play baseball. Even with those two years off, stable pieces remained. Those pieces include the greatest coach in the history of the NBA, along with Scottie Pippen. For those of you under appreciate Scottie Pippen. He is maybe the best wing defender ever to play and is a top 50 all-time NBA player. Taking, nothing away from Jordan, but he was not by himself.
Kobe’s 5 titles also impressive. But again, his team had the greatest NBA Coach of all time. 3 of these Championships included Shaq in his prime. Shaq is the most dominant big man to play in this league since the turn of the century. His second run at back to back titles, Phil was still there. Include also, motivated big men such as Bynum, Gasol, along with pre-nuts Lamar Odom, and pre-name change, post nuts Ron Artest. A loaded roster, a great coach, and a talent-filled team.
For Lebron, since his time in Cleveland. The same can not be said. The most talented players he had on the roster include Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. To my basketball fans out there, I have a question? Do Love, Irving, equal the talent of a Pippen or Shaq or Gasol? I have a hard time comparing them on the same level. I understand the positions are different and the eras are different but still. If your choices in a draft are Pippen, Shaq, Bynum, Gasol, Love or Irving. Who comes off the board first?
This is in no way a deterrent of the other players, it’s more of a haves versus have-nots debate. Could you imagine the King playing with a generational big man? Could you see him being coached by the greatest who ever lived? Is it possible to imagine that with Lebron?
As we look at the challenge ahead and an eight straight finals appearance. It is time to recognize true greatness. We also need to understand the level of competition. I understand Jordan beat some quality teams. Teams that included the likes of players like, Magic, and Worthy, Drexler, Barkley, Stockton, Malone, Gary Payton, and Shawn Kemp. I am aware the Kobe had to defeat, the likes of Reggie Miller and Rik Smits, Allen Iverson, Dwight Howard, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.
But what we never give enough credit to, is what the King is attempting to do. Defeating a super team. One that does not have just 3 superstar players on it, but 4. Not only are they superstars, but 3 of them are top 20 players in this league. Something like this has never even been thought to be possible. What would the NBA be like today if Westbrook, Durant, and Harden were able to take care of business with a 3-1 lead? This dynasty, the super team does not even exist today.
While this weekend, was one to honor those who have lost. It is also a time to reflect on the greatness you are experiencing from a single individual. That individual is Lebron James. A guy who has nothing to prove in this league, who still is hated by many in this town. Just take a look at how, people say he will not make an up and coming team, that features a dominant big man, any better. Keep in mind, he is most likely going to come here, this offseason, and it will give the fans more to hate the man about.
As much hatred as there maybe right now the king remains. In my opinion, regardless of the outcome in this series, he has cemented his legacy. No matter a win or a loss in this final, LBJ is the greatest I have ever seen. How fun would it be to see the greatest in Philly?
We will get back to Philly sports tomorrow, but lets honor, greatness, and respect it for what it is.