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The Legacy of LeBron James

Published: Wednesday, Jun 14th 2017, 4:06pm

by Alex Dormuth (@RealAlexD)

The Golden State Warriors capped off another incredible season by defeating the Lebron James led Cleveland Cavaliers 129-120 in Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night. The Warriors won the series 4-1 that featured 2 blowouts in the most predictable Finals in recent memory. Overall, the NBA playoffs were terrible this season, too many blowouts and the outcome was pretty much determined the second that Kevin Durant signed with the Warriors in the offseason. This was the series that could have saved the NBA playoffs, but Finals MVP Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and the rest of the Warriors were just too much for LeBron and the Cavs to handle.

The series loss drops LeBron to a 3-5 NBA Finals record and while LeBron played lights out this series (averaged a triple double for the series, the first player to do that in the Finals), I can’t help but find some fault in his game, namely in games 3 and 5.

First, allow me to preface this by saying that I LOVE watching Lebron James play. He is one of the greatest players this game has ever seen and it truly is a treat to witness his greatness live. I can say that I’ve seen him play live while he was with the Miami Heat and he really is as great as you see on TV. That said, I love watching him lose. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but I quite enjoy it. Maybe it’s because I’m a Kobe Bryant fan and I want Kobe to be known as a greater player, I don’t know. But this series loss by the Cavaliers has be aimed at Lebron James.

In game 3, the Cavs let a late 7 point lead go and ended up losing, which if you miss your shots and the other team makes theirs, that’s fine, it happens. What really bothered me is that the greatest player of this generation was passing up shots (easy shots) to try and get his teammates more involved. We have the most physically dominant athlete in the world driving to the basket against inferior defenders and he’s passing the ball. I know he’s the anti-MJ and has been a great play maker his entire career and doesn’t view himself as just a scorer, but YOU need to go out there and WIN the game. To hell with being labeled as greedy or anything like that. Go win!

Michael Jordan would take the shot with the game on the line. Kobe Bryant would take the shot (well, 5 shots) with the game on the line. Those guys had that next level killer instinct that LeBron just simply doesn’t possess. It’s not because LeBron doesn’t have the ability, he absolutely does. He just for some reason refuses to unleash it. And to me, this is exactly why I can never put LeBron on the Mount Rushmore of NBA players with MJ and Kobe.

LeBron still may match or beat Kobe’s 5 or even MJ’s 6 NBA Finals Championships, but what is his legacy? Certainly he will go down as a top 5 all time player, but will he ever be ahead of those guys? No, he won’t. The all time greats don’t lose 5 Finals, no matter what super team(s) they may face. The greats take over those games and win them.

Sure, you can’t really ask someone who averages a triple double in the Finals to do more, especially when they score 41 points in game 5, but it’s about timing. Taking over the game in the 1st quarter is great, but taking it over in the 4th is when it matters most. But LeBron isn’t all to blame, his team simply wasn’t good enough when LeBron was on the bench to keep up with the Warriors, and credit them for exploiting those few minutes every game and making their runs then.

I REALLY wanted LeBron to make this a 7 game series after the Warriors got up 3-0. I mean a sweep would have been incredible because of a perfect 16-0 postseason by the Warriors, but losing a 3-0 lead would have been even more special. Alas we didn’t get it, and that’s not entirely on LeBron, but some of it is.

So what exactly is his legacy? For sure a top 10 player, probably a top 5 player, but not on the level with MJ or Kobe and behind Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. They were closers. LeBron isn’t.

 

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