Let me make something 100% clear. There is absolutely nobody on planet Earth loving this series more than me. This bastard started this whole damn thing. The superstars going to join other superstars in free agency thing is all his doing. Nothing will make me happier than to see him get swept on his home court in the Finals. Is Kevin Durant soft for joining this team? Of course he is, but LeBron started it. He opened the door to this phenomenon years ago and now that door is being shoved in his ugly face. 3-5 in the NBA Finals, I honestly can’t say it without laughing. But that’s besides the point.
We were an inch away from a LMBF Civil War today. If all of us weren’t hiding behind our phones, there’s a better chance than not that we get in to an absolute melee. Our group consists of predominantly 3 mercenaries serving the Lebron James camp, “The Dickriders” as I call them. The rest of us, led by yours truly, are not exactly fans of this fraud. While it’s usually all in good fun, today it was not, and it all comes back to this question.
Do Lebron James’ 8 NBA Finals appearances mean anything at all? Is going 3-5 in the NBA Finals, better than going 3-0?
I’m going to dive into this, but I want to point something out first so that you all don’t stop reading. My answer to this question has slim to nothing to do with my hatred for Lebron James. If Paul George was 3-5 in the NBA Finals and had been to this many in a row, I’d have the same answer. Whenever this question comes up, and it comes up a lot, I always ask this question. Have people ever attempted to justify losing more for any other athlete of all time? I mean, really think about that. Give me one other athlete that you can honestly say we pull the “But he’s played in this many championships” card for. You’re simply not going to find one. Lebron James is such a different animal, because in order to talk about his greatness, you’re always going to have to justify losing, and as a sports culture it’s really something that we haven’t done before. We have always measured the greatest ever by their rings, no matter the sport. Look at Football for example. Who do we generally regard as the two best Quarterbacks of all time? Tom Brady and Joe Montana. I’d say that’s pretty much a consensus opinion. Is it a coincidence they rank 1 and 2 All Time in Super Bowl rings? Of course it’s not.
My answer to this question is that I don’t think 8 straight NBA Finals by Lebron James is something that’s ever worth talking about. I think it’s something that people talk about because it’s a statistic that helps Lebron James fans sleep at night. Is it something that’s even worth mentioning? No it’s not, and here’s why.
Let’s look at Magic Johnson, because I think Magic’s career perfectly sums up the point I’m about to make. Magic Johnson appeared in a total of 9 NBA Finals. In ’82, he lost to the 76ers, in ’83 he lost to the Celtics, in ’88 he lost to the Pistons, and in ’90 he lost to the Bulls. Although all of us are aware of that Lakers/Celtics rivalry that took center stage throughout the ’80’s, Magic did struggle to get past other teams. What’s one of the most debatable topics among Lakers fans, or just basketball fans in general? Who would you take, Magic or Kobe? It’s just like talking about the greatest Yankee ever, storied franchises with such transcendent talent throughout the years. Why is the Magic/Kobe question so hard to answer? Because they both finished with the same amount of rings. It doesn’t matter that Magic played in 9 Finals and Kobe only played in 7. They both finished with 5. In such a superstar driven game, that’s the measuring stick. When it’s all said and done, how many do you have, not how close did you get.
Now look at Lebron. Right up there with Magic, Lebron James has played in a total of 8 NBA Finals. He lost to the Spurs in ’06, the Mavericks in ’10, the Spurs in’13, Warriors in ’14, and now the Warriors in ’16-’17. It hasn’t been just one team that he’s lost to, but a handful of teams from the Western Conference. If the Los Angeles Lakers played in the Eastern Conference, Magic Johnson would have made 5 NBA Finals. The years that Magic’s Lakers lost in the NBA Finals, common sense would tell us that they would not have made it to that point had they played in the East. If Lebron James’s Cavs or Heat played in the Western conference, Lebron James would only have made it to 3 Finals so far in his career. Does it really matter whether or not you lose to the NBA Champions in the first round or in the NBA Finals? So making it farther, and then losing, essentially just makes you the best loser of that season? God I can’t wait until this guy goes to the Lakers and this entire argument proves itself.
We have never had to justify losing for someone so much. If you’re one of those Colin Cowherd guys who spends their entire life explaining why Lebron is better than Michael Jordan, are you really going to say, “Well who played in more NBA Finals” to defend your argument? If the Bad Boy Pistons were in the West, and Michael made the Finals those years and lost, would it be any different than losing to them in the Eastern Conference playoffs? Would you reward Michael Jordan for making the NBA Finals more times than he did? It’s such an illogical argument in my opinion, but we’ve never had this happen before. Never have we EVER had a player so skilled and so talented, that bragging about how many times he has come up just short been used as a positive thing. It’s never happened before. Take Lebron James for what he is on the basketball court. Incredibly skilled, incredibly gifted, (GOD this is absolutely killing me to say, I’m trying so hard for all of you Lebron lovers on this one) but don’t for a second try and use his Finals appearances as a tool to explain his greatness. “Yo, check out my boy Bron Bron. My man has been to the Finals 8 times, lost 5 of them, but he went 8 times.” Take a hike, that’s just dumb.
So that’s that. I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts, #EmbraceDebate in the comments if you’d like and tell me what you think. LEt’s not exhaust ourselves and turn this in to a Michael Jordan / Lebron James debate, just take the question for what it is. So to conclude this post, here’s the video of the shot LeBron James took with time winding down in the 4th quarter with his team down by 1, his legacy on the line, and the series hanging in the balance. Enjoy.