Riley Wagner, Cartan Global
The time has come as does every year when the two best teams from each conference in the NBA meet up in the NBA finals to duke it out and see who prevails as the better team. This most recent campaign in the NBA has been one for the ages; Russell Westbrook of the Oklahoma City Thunder averaged a triple double on the season, Paul Pierce decided to retire, Demarcus Cousins was finally traded, and so much more. But unfortunately, after all the hype that was the 20016-2017 NBA regular season, the playoffs were extremely lackluster and for two reasons: the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors. Both teams were clearly and undoubtedly much superior to all of their competition and both have made their way to their 3rd consecutive finals match up. The difference this time will be that as of Game 1 in Oakland, each team will be fully healthy but even more importantly the Warriors have one significant difference to their squad compared to last year, and his name is Kevin Durant.
After losing in 2015 to the Warriors, LeBron lead the Cavaliers back from a 3-1 deficit in last year’s finals against Golden State to secure the city of Cleveland their first ever NBA title. Even then when he won, many considered him to be the greatest or at least one of the greats much like Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird. Yet, why is LeBron still scrutinized consistently? Is it because he is essentially a superhuman with how strong and fast he is compared to everyone else? Or is it because he had to acquire many former all-stars this year just to be able to get back to the finals? Both of those points are solid arguments as to why LeBron is viewed as such but in my opinion this years’ finals are the most important to watch not only for him, but for the game of basketball itself.
LeBron James currently has 3 NBA titles, two behind Kobe Bryant, and three behind Michael Jordan. If he wins this championship he will be one behind Kobe and two behind Jordan. So why wouldn’t next years’ finals be more important or the year after that? It’s simple; this is LeBron’s toughest competition ever. He is known to be inconsistent when it comes to big games. He singlehandedly beat the Pistons in the 2007 ECF (Eastern Conference Finals) but the first year he was on the Miami Heat, he lost to an underwhelming Dallas Mavericks squad with an aged Jason Kidd and a past his prime Dirk Nowitzki. Additionally, his first year back in Cleveland, they lost to the Warriors in 6 games. Fast forward to 2017, the Warriors are coming off the most wins in NBA history, adding solid pieces to their bench, and adding a top 5 player to their team in Kevin Durant.
Right here, right now, there’s now excuses for LeBron. His finals record is subpar at best and although he may have been ‘sick’ for the past couple of games against the Celtics, this is when it’s time for him to be clutch, and carry his team to a back-to-back title reign. It’s the toughest team he has faced in his career. If he wants to be the best of all time, defeating the team who just had the best NBA season over 2015-2016 and added a MVP, would sure make a great case on top of the numerous accomplishments he’s already obtained thus far. But here’s the interesting thing, dependent on the perspective, it’s either a win-win situation or a win-lose situation. Win-win because if he wins, he beats arguably the best team in NBA history and garners his 5th title while some NBA players play their whole careers without ever getting one. But if he loses, he still, (hopefully), puts up a valiant effort and loses to the best team and people will see that clearly, there’s just not much else a man can do when you play a team with two MVP’s, being Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant. The other perspective is that again if he wins, he defeats the best of the best but if he loses, those who are already vehemently against LeBron and his legacy will see the fact that he lost and was unable to defeat the Warriors. He came up short and Kobe or Jordan or Bird wouldn’t cower like LeBron did and rather they would fend off the Warriors and would win.
For LeBron, he’s always under the limelight and it’s hard for the guy to catch a break and this year is no different. Not only basketball purists but even fair-weather fans will have to respect LeBron James’ greatness if he’s able to pull this off. Albeit yes, he will still be one championship behind Jordan and six behind Bill Russell if he wins but he will have beaten the odds if he is able to overcome the monster that is the Golden State Warriors. Game 4 of the NBA Finals is June 1st in Cleveland, OH at 9:00 p.m. (Local Time) and Cartan has TICKETS!
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