The forward, who has contributed 25 points, 9 assists and 13 rebounds for the Los Angeles Lakers triumph over Miami Heat in the first game of the series for the ring, haunts the throne of a certain Michael Jordan with his validity at the top .
“The key, if you want to be champion, is that you have to go through a team led by LeBron James.” Within hours of playing his first NBA finals, Jimmy Butler, the Miami Heat star, made no bones about it. The words about his rival in the definition summarize the feelings of the protagonists. Final ten and more than a decade of dominance validate the question: is the Los Angeles Lakers figure the most dominant player in history?
Some players and coaches say there is no need to feed him the opponent through praise. With James, however, that rule does not seem to apply. Perhaps because its quality is too obvious not to notice it or try to ignore it.
“At the end of the day, that’s what usually happens,” Butler reinforced. “Of course, we can’t just focus on him because he has great players around, but you have the same test over and over again until you pass it. That test is LeBron. James”.
What happens to the forward of the Heat is, ultimately, life itself. In 13 years since the Rey will play his first final, back in 2007 with Cleveland and against the San Antonio Spurs of Manu Ginobili, accumulates ten finals, eight of them consecutive between 2011 to 2018.
That ten decisive series – of the nine concluded, only won three– places it as one of the four basketball players who disputed the title the most times. And it is worth contextualizing the rest.
Two of them are Bill Russell Y Sam Jones, members of the team that prevailed like no other in the life of the league: the Boston Celtics of the late 1950s and 1960s.
The other is Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, who played them with Milwaukee and the Lakers of the Showtime. And it does have a compelling argument: how could the domain of whoever became the highest scorer in history?
In this career, the hyper-professionalization of the league, competitiveness, renewed challenges and even the progress of the game, until the late 1980s dominated for almost 40 years by pivots, would seem to play in LeBron’s favor.
It is the third shirt with which he plays a final, after Miami and Cleveland. If you win the title, you will achieve a feat that no great player did: lift the Larry O’Brien trophy with three different jackets.
Yes they did it Robert Horry Y John Salley, but none had the preponderance that James has. None of the great stars of history rethought the sports existence so many times and led so many different franchises to rings.
When it comes to the opinion game, it’s impossible to get Michael Jordan out of the way. And lovers of legend have solid arguments. Yes, he barely played half plus one of LeBron’s finals, but never lost one and he is the man with the highest scoring average in the playoffs (the only one above 30 points per night).
In addition, Jordan knew how to leave the league for two years, play baseball in the middle and return to be as unstoppable as before leaving the NBA. To think whether someone else, including James, would have been capable, is unverifiable. But even the mythical escort sounded laughable.
The man with 100 points. How to get out of the conversation Wilt Chamberlain? An animal that made a difference physically and basketball: seven times top scorer, eleven times as best rebounder, four times MVP and even highest assister one season, there was nothing to The Record Book (“the record book”) could not do on a court.
In addition to the 100 points, he averaged 50 in one season and got fifty almost 120 times in his career. Second on that list? Jordan, with 31. If he could not achieve more than two rings, the aforementioned Celtics, owners of the NBA at the time, had a lot to do with it.
Shaquille O’Neal, the last giant to crush rivals, is another of those who have been named in the debate throughout history: in his prime, it was almost impossible to stop him. For something the champion Lakers of the early 2000s were more his than a young but already highly talented Kobe Bryant.
More than once James has declared that he has the objective – aside from the titles – to be considered The best in history. In terms of dominance, he chose his long ago, long enough to include it in the conversation.