Welp, another NBA season in the books and boy was it a boring one. 82 pointless games followed by a pointless playoff series all to set up the matchup we all knew was coming. At least Joel Embiid was fun to watch for the few months he was out there. If it weren’t for him, I probably would’ve gotten into the hobby of watching paint dry just to bring some excitement into my life. It’s too bad this season was boring because in all honesty, the finals matchup this year was one for the history books. The only problem was that everyone saw it coming, so it wasn’t a thrilling ride and then once we got to the finals, it was made clear quickly that this series wasn’t going to be as intense as we had all hoped. The Warriors made quick work of the Cavs, eliminating them in only five games, handing LeBron another finals loss. But did LeBron really lose?
To put it simply, LeBron straight up balled out this entire series. He became the first player in history to average a triple double in the finals by posting a slash of 33.6/12/10 in the finals. If you were to look at just LeBron’s stats for these finals, you would assume that the Cavs won solely based on that. He was absolutely unstoppable during the finals, yet somehow it wasn’t enough. So what happened? Well, for starters the bench was absolutely nonexistent. There was absolutely no help from anyone outside of the Cavs big three. At times it felt like the Warriors had a 5 on 3 power play, leaving LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin to fend for themselves. Tristan Thompson got outrebounded by Steph Curry. Deron Williams didn’t score a bucket until game four. Richard Jefferson was their fifth leading scorer at a mere 5.8 ppg. JR Smith started playing well, especially last game, scoring 25 on ⅞ from 3-pt range, but his play came a bit too late. With no help from outside the big three and the Warriors bench outplaying the Cavs bench, LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin were forced to play extra minutes in order to make up for the poor bench performance, putting all the work onto their shoulders. Honestly if it weren’t for LeBron’s stellar performance, the result could have been even uglier than it was.
But by no means is this an excuse for Cleveland’s loss to Golden State. The Warriors were just too good for the Cavaliers. I don’t think any team in history could best this Warriors team in a 7-game series. This has got to be the best team in the history of basketball. There was no stopping them. Kevin Durant went off this series, averaging 35 ppg. It felt like every time he pulled up to shoot it was going in. And when he would leave his feet to dunk it was as if he was gliding through the air to the hoop. It was all so graceful to watch. Add that performance with Steph Curry’s great series as well, and there was just nothing the Cavaliers could do. Curry slashed 26.8/8/9.4 in this series, nearly averaging a triple double like LeBron. Steph Curry really showed up this series and it made all the difference in the end. And like I said earlier, the play by the Warriors role players really helped seal the deal. They were able to outscore the Cavs bench and force Cleveland’s big three back out onto the court sooner than the Cavs would have liked, thus tiring out LeBron and Co. allowing the Warriors starters to punish them. Nothing could be done to stop this Warriors team this year. I have yet to see a weakness in the Warriors that could allow a team to beat them. The only way for the Warriors to lose is if they beat themselves and they certainly did not do that this finals.
But LeBron still statistically lost another finals, putting him at a 3-5 record in the finals. Many people look at that and say LeBron isn’t great because he has a losing record in the finals, which is absolute shit. The fact that LeBron has been to 8 finals already is impressive enough, so what if he’s lost 5. Losing in the finals shouldn’t be looked down upon as much as it is. It’s impressive to even be there, so why give an amazing player like LeBron flak for losing five? “Oh but MJ has never lost a final.” Yeah well LeBron also hasn’t gotten swept in the first round. Twice. Also if you look back on the teams LeBron has lost to, they’re nothing to be ashamed about. He’s lost to the Spurs twice and the Warriors twice. Two amazing teams during their times and were not really seen as underdogs in any finals. Yes, he did lose to the Mavericks in 2011, but you gotta remember, that team swept the two-time reigning champ Lakers team. So why should LeBron be looked down upon for losing to that team?
A player’s finals record should not be used to judge the greatness of said player. People keep looking at LeBron’s finals record as if it’s been an individual affair. LeBron isn’t 3-5 in the finals, LeBron’s teams are 3-5 in the finals. People need to remember that this game is still a team sport. You win and lose as a team, and one player isn’t going to dictate that. Yes, one player can have a large impact, but it is still up to the team as a whole to perform well in order to bring home a ring. LeBron has balled out every finals he’s been in and tried to give his team the best chance they have at winning it all. You cannot blame someone who gives his all those losses, especially this year’s finals. Averaging a triple double is going above and beyond what was asked of him, and I think a lot of people don’t see that. All they see is that LeBron lost again. LeBron sucks, end of story. But it’s not the end of the story. If you look at what LeBron does when he goes out there game after game, you would see that this man is an incredible talent that has nothing to be ashamed about. LeBron is the exact opposite of a sucky player. LeBron is one of the greatest to touch the court and too many people take that for granted.
LeBron is one of the greatest to play the game. There’s really not much more to say. I think those that do not see that are not paying enough attention. Far too often LeBron’s skills are overlooked and under-appreciated. Yet then those same people who think LeBron isn’t one of the best see him lose and blame it all on him. It’s mind boggling to me how bipolar the fans of the NBA are towards this man. One minute they love him, but the minute he has a “bad” game they’re down his throat. Everyone needs to stop criticizing LeBron, especially when it comes to losing in the finals. It’s a team game. There is only so much that one player can do, yet LeBron day in and day out gives his team more than enough. Honestly the fact that people expect LeBron to win a final on his own is impressive enough. Says all you really need to know about LeBron. So leave LeBron alone, it’s not his fault. Teams win and lose together. All the blame cannot be placed on one person, especially a player like LeBron.