LeBron James was cursed from the beginning. Coming out of high school he was being touted as the “Chosen One” and the best basketball player to bless the hardwood since Michael Jordan. That is inconceivable hype almost impossible to live up to. Well I guess LeBron has accomplished the impossible because he is indeed the best player to bless the hardwood since MJ and Kobe Bryant and his fifth trip to the NBA Finals is all the proof you need.
Do you know how many players have carried their teams to the Finals five straight times? Just one guy that goes by the name of Bill Russell, you know the guy the Finals MVP trophy is named after. That’s the only other player that was able to navigate the collision course that is the playoffs five straight times.
LeBron has played about 550 games during this stretch and taken two different squads to the big showdown in June and he has been the best player on each team. Look I’m not saying he accomplished this all by himself, but even the King’s harshest critics have to pay homage the greatness we are witnessing. Making the Finals with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was cool. If they didn’t make and win a couple Finals after all that smack they talked would be embarrassing to say the least. But for LeBron to head back to Cleveland and navigate the terrain with a bunch of first timers is something to marvel at.
Critics will argue that the Cavs path to the Finals was easy to say the least, but with no Kevin Love and a hobbled Kyrie Irving, LeBron took the meaning “putting the team on his back” to another level. He took Carmelo Anthony’s reject supporting cast from the Knicks (J.R. Smith & Iman Shumpert) and turned them into his new big three while Kyrie got healthy.
He is currently averaging 27 points, 8 assists and 10 rebounds operating as the team’s point guard and top perimeter defender. Outside of Michael Jordan I can’t think of any other player capable of carrying a team through series wins with relative ease (Cavs have yet to reach Game 7) while shouldering such a load.
Stephen Curry and the Warriors in all likelihood await LeBron and the Cavs in this year’s Finals. With the Dubs getting home court advantage all signs point to a seven game war ending with Curry hoisting the first NBA title since 1975. So does the still make LeBron great? You goddamn right it does. There’s a reason Jay-Z is considered one of the best rappers of all time and that is longevity. He doesn’t always have album of the year, but he’s always there.
One day sports fans will evolve and look past scoring averages and rings and take greatness at face value. When they do LeBron James will be the first player they talk about. So stop comparing him to Kobe, MJ, or whoever else and just witness the greatness.