About a year ago, I wrote a blog Examining LeBron’s Legacy, and it could’ve been really easy to destroy him after losing yet another NBA Finals, falling to 2-4 at the time. It would’ve been easy for yours truly as well, as I have been a LeBron “hater” because of some of the things he’s done and said. Instead, I applauded James’ performance, despite the losing effort, as he almost took down the best team in basketball basically on his own. He was the real Finals MVP last year, even though Andre Iguodala officially won it.
A year later, though, we have definitely answered the question we entered this Finals asking: who’s the top guy in the NBA, Curry or LeBron? Well, with a game 7 victory on the road to complete a 3-1 series comeback, the answer is clear: it’s LeBron’s league, and we’re all just lucky to be apart of it.
For the record, I’m not taking anything away from Steph Curry. The man was the first unanimous MVP in NBA history, hit 402 three-pointers this year, and led the single greatest regular season team in NBA history. The Warriors broke a record that nobody thought would be broken. And even when they hit adversity (being down 3-1 to the Thunder), they took it on and crushed it, coming back to win the Western Conference Finals and make it to a second straight NBA Finals. They were the better team going into this Finals, and they should’ve won this championship to complete the greatest season in NBA history.
LeBron James had other plans, though.
James couldn’t lose this Finals. He couldn’t fall to 2-5 overall in the Finals. He couldn’t lose another one for Cleveland. He couldn’t have people questioning his greatness again. He NEEDED this championship for all of that, and then some.
And he won it.
Not only did James win it, but he dominated these Finals. He led the series in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, and just about any other statistical category possible. While Curry had a sub-par Finals (and sub-par playoffs overall), James thrived when the pressure was on, scoring 41, 41, and 27 in the final three games of the series. His 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists marked the third time in Finals history that a player had a triple-double in game 7 of the Finals. Simply put, he would not lose this series and played like his life, and legacy, were on the line.
His third championship also puts him in rarified air: he’s now one of three men to have at least three titles and four MVPs. The other two? Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson. Not bad company to have.
What this win really does, though, is cement LeBron as a top 5 player in NBA history. No matter what order you put them in, or who you have up there, LeBron has to be on that list. Jordan, Russell, Magic, Kareem, LeBron. You can interchange Magic and Kareem with Oscar Robertson, Bird, or Kobe. It doesn’t matter who you put on the list. One thing for certain, though, is LeBron is on that list now, and there’s no way you can deny his place amongst the all-time greats.
From here, it doesn’t matter what LeBron does. There’s some questions about him leaving Cleveland again to go play with Dwyane Wade again in Miami, and if he leaves, that’s fine. Hell, he could retire right now and nobody would be upset: 13 years, 4 MVPs, 3 championships, 7 Finals appearances, 26,833 points, and some of the most iconic playoff games in NBA history. His spot in Springfield is already locked up, and the statue is already being made in Cleveland. His domination of the sport is only rivaled by Jordan in the 90s and Russell in the 60s.
So as a LeBron “hater,” I will have to take a step back and appreciate what we have been watching the past 13 years. I have always respected LeBron’s on-court ability, but “The Decision” and his constant complaining to referees have always what made me a “hater.” But I can’t hate no more after this championship. LeBron is the greatest player of our generation, and there’s no question about it.
Thanks for reading. Make sure to check out the other blogs I’ve posted, and stay tuned as I go more in-depth on all the things going on in the sports world. This is Game of Sports.