The Los Angeles Lakers just won their 17th NBA championship after taking care of business against the Miami Heat in six games, tying the Boston Celtics for the most titles of any franchise in the league. LeBron James, the Finals MVP of the bubble, had his impressive repertoire on display, finishing with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the deciding 106-93 victory in Game 6. The Lakers showed dominance on the biggest stage, poise in the biggest moments and a player who, in his 17th season, is still the biggest name in basketball.
As usual with my recaps, I have a couple of takeaways from the series as a whole because I haven’t covered each game directly.
First, I have the utmost respect for the president of basketball operations Pat Riley, Head Coach Erik Spoelstra and, of course, the players who did not back down from this challenge. The Miami Heat overcame obstacle after obstacle when nobody, including myself, thought they could even reach the finals. This postseason was the coming-out party for budding stars in Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo, the rise of a shooting extraordinaire in Duncan Robinson and a superstar in Jimmy Butler. Yes, I said it. Jimmy Butler, the guy who was considered locker room cancer on the Minnesota Timberwolves and chastised by the league after leaving the Philadelphia 76ers, is a superstar in the National Basketball Association. He is the only guy ever to outscore LeBron in points, rebounds and assists all in the same game. On a brutal 43 minutes per night in the finals, Butler was tasked to defend LeBron on several occasions while still being the focal point on offense. Between his leadership and two incredible triple-double efforts in the finals on 40 and 35 points respectively, he deserves our respect. This Heat team overcame injuries to key players and defied all odds to reach the finals when the league thought they were going through a rebuild. This Pat Riley-led squad is going to be a force in seasons to come.
Second, can we agree LeBron James is the second greatest player of all time? This pains me to say because Kobe Bryant is my favorite player ever, but I don’t think it’s deniable anymore. When it’s all said and done, I think LeBron will have the greatest career all-time statistically because of his incredible longevity. This guy’s prime has been longer than other stars’ entire careers. This level of consistent greatness is going to be missed when the King retires. I don’t want to hear anything about LeBron having an easy road to a championship this year. The Lakers were given 40% odds to win the title. Analysts like Charles Barkley called for the Portland Trailblazers to sweep the Lakers, then the small ball Houston Rockets were supposed to pose a threat and then it was upstart Nuggets. But in every matchup, LeBron dismantled these doubtful narratives. I’m saying this for his haters in the Youtube comments and his haters on sports media platforms. Like he said in the postgame, show him the respect he’s clearly earned.
Lastly, I want to thank Adam Silver for the amazing leadership he showed during these pressing times. He proactively shut down the NBA three weeks before the Center of Disease Control mask mandate, organized 6,500 people to work in the bubble, managed countless logistic and human resources, took a stand in support of Black Lives Matter and even had a part in the production of Jordan’s Last Dance documentary to keep fans entertained during the NBA season hiatus. These accomplishments are only the tip of the iceberg for what he’s done for the sport of basketball and vast communities of people worldwide. He has exemplified what it means to be a leader and is a good example for everyone. The guy has been class personified when all eyes have been on him, even since the Daryl Morey tweeting about China fiasco. Silver has become someone that millions have been able to count on and I think that under his leadership, the NBA has an incredibly bright future.