LeBron’s GOAT Status Currently, and Free Agency Predictions

James is coming off an NBA Finals loss which, let’s face it, no one really cares about that much. Essentially, LeBron played what Fortnite gamers call ‘Solo Squads’, and the Warriors had a bit too overpowering of a squad. LeBron James, despite being 3-6 in the NBA Finals, is still the Greatest Player of All-Time, and he will most likely be a free agent. LeBron is going to be the talk of the summer once again, as he is approaching ‘The Decision 3.0’ in this year’s free agency. Here is my stance on where he lies as the GOAT, and where he could go in free agency this summer:

LeBron’s GOAT Status

LeBron James is really the only person besides Michael Jordan who is in the GOAT conversation, and deservedly so. Why wouldn’t the most complete NBA player to ever play the game not be in the GOAT conversation? Now, that being said, many critics are rather dogmatic and harsh in their judgement of LeBron James, but there are many things those people are missing out. First off, Michael Jordan is 1-9 in all playoff series when he did not have another superstar on his team. LeBron James has been to 2 NBA Finals with no superstars (2007 and this year, and no, Kevin Love is not a superstar). Second, Michael Jordan is 6-0 in Finals, yet he always had the NBA’s best team. LeBron, however, has only been the favorite in 2 Finals (2011 vs. Dallas Mavericks, and 2013 vs. San Antonio Spurs, according to FiveThirtyEight. He went 1-1 in those Finals). So, to say that Jordan is better because he is 6-0 is a bad argument to make, because LeBron has rarely been the favorite. On top of that, Jordan has been swept out of the playoffs twice, and unlike LeBron, has lost in the first round of the playoffs, so saying that LeBron has ‘easier competition’ is also a faulty statement. Third, LeBron is the much more complete player, as he isn’t simply ‘just a scorer’, or ‘just a perimeter defender’ as Michael Jordan was. LeBron can do much more to rebound, pass, play inside on both ends, and guard and play all positions on either side of the ball. Lastly, LeBron has never had the amount of talent that Jordan has had, as Jordan could afford to take a 2-year ‘retirement’ and still see his Chicago Bulls make the playoffs both years. Only LeBron’s Miami Heat teams could’ve made the playoffs without him. Sure, they both had superteams, but Jordan always had the more deep and dependable superteams as opposed to LeBron. All in all, the arguments for LeBron as the GOAT trump that of Jordan, and show that his ability to often just take terribly assembled teams to the Finals is remarkable, and the fact that Jordan always had a well assembled team to work with speaks volumes to the differences in their Finals records, yet also their individual talents and efforts. The only thing that could really take LeBron out of the GOAT conversation is if he were to go to the Golden State Warriors in free agency, which, considering the current Warriors position, they may have to trade all their superstars except for KD and maybe Steph Curry to get him, and even then, they will be guaranteed many Finals victories due to the presence of LeBron.

LeBron’s Free Agency Options

LeBron James has a lot of leverage as far as where he can go once he opts out, due to the how much money he can get per year, and the sign-and-trade ability that he possesses, as exemplified by the way Chris Paul used it last season to get to the Houston Rockets. The teams that are in the running for LeBron are: LA Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers, San Antonio Spurs, Houston Rockets, Boston Celtics, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, and Golden State Warriors. Here is how I see each team in terms of those most likely to get him, sleeper teams, the best fit for LeBron, and who LeBron will eventually go play for:

The Teams Most Likely To Land LeBron

Los Angeles Lakers

Now, this seems to be the favorite to land LeBron by seemingly everyone, not just the Vegas odds-makers, or the fact that LeBron has two homes in LA. However, the Lakers need to do a few things to convince LeBron first. They must trade their big cap-space clingers, like Luol Deng and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, so that LeBron can have the ability to tell Magic Johnson how he wants the roster to be tinkered. The last thing he would want is to run into a situation that he did in the 2010-11 season, when the ‘Big 3’ had really no one else on the team, which resulted in their shock NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks in 6 games. LeBron wants to be able to get the roster up-and-running immediately, which he has improved upon doing since that season. LeBron also will want Paul George. The Lakers are the only team in the NBA that has enough cap for TWO max-contract players, and Paul George can be the second guy. While many say George is a lock to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for his hometown of SoCal, George has talked many times about the fact that he may want to stay in OKC, citing that playing with Russell Westbrook has made him a better player and person. Even if PG stays with OKC, Kawhi Leonard, the superstar Small Forward of the San Antonio Spurs, has asked for a trade to the Lakers, and will be granted the trade soon. The trade will probably end up being Brandon Ingram and Luol Deng for Kawhi. Now, assuming that PG’s heart is set on going back home, LeBron to LA would be a virtual guarantee. LeBron, along with PG, and Kawhi, and the young pieces that LA already has, they will bring themselves back to NBA Finals contenders, as it would put them on a level to beat the Golden State Warriors, and win the Finals many times over.

Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia is enticing to LeBron James because of the heights that they reached this season. They went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals with Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons leading the way. With LeBron’s presence, he can elevate the level of play from Embiid and Simmons, along with other role players like JJ Redick, Robert Covington, and Dario Saric, and make this team NBA Finals contenders. This roster already has pieces that LeBron would love to play with, as it has a scoring and shot-blocking center (Embiid), a creator (Simmons), and many spot-up shooters (Redick, Covington, Saric). LeBron probably fits best with the Sixers compared to any of his other suitors. The only piece LeBron may look to trade or replace is Markelle Fultz. The 76ers also have the 10th pick in the NBA Draft which is a week from today. Don’t be surprised if LeBron has Philly take a guy like Mikal Bridges or Colin Sexton, scorers who can either start or come off the bench. LeBron can easily take this team to the Finals, and they could knock off Golden State.

San Antonio Spurs

Kawhi Leonard wants to be traded to the Lakers, so no chance LeBron goes there.

Houston Rockets

Roster-wise, why wouldn’t LeBron want to go here? James Harden, Chris Paul, and Clint Capela are three of the best players at their positions, and the Rockets role players are some of the best in the business. So, why can’t LeBron just go there? Cap space. Houston backup Power Forward Ryan Anderson was signed in 2016 to a 4-year, $80 million contract in 2016, and if he isn’t traded, the Rockets should say goodbye to their chances at getting LeBron. LeBron would probably have to do a sign-and-trade deal like Chris Paul did, but it all comes down to whether or not the Cavs, or possibly any other team, would want Anderson. If Anderson is traded before LeBron makes ‘The Decision’, LeBron could go there and not have to go through the mess of a sign-and-trade deal, but considering Anderson is 30 years old, and really not bringing value to many teams anymore, the Rockets window to get LeBron is closing faster than ever.

Boston Celtics

I’m convinced that Celtics GM Danny Ainge wants to trade Gordon Hayward for LeBron in a sign-and-trade, but would Cleveland be willing to get ‘just Hayward’ for him? It seems as though Ainge will not want to trade Kyrie Irving and instead convince him to stay in 2019, when he can make $80 million more than what he would make this year if he extends his contract, which he declined to do. Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert wants to build a ‘championship roster’ without LeBron, so he may get greedy in the sign-and-trade, even if he does get Hayward. Plus, Kyrie ran away from Cleveland and their management to lead a team, so he may not want LeBron to come to Boston. I would, however, give Boston a higher chance to get LeBron than Houston.

Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron does not want to stay with this embarrassment of an organization. Unless he gets 1-2 superstars, such as Paul George and DeMarcus Cousins through sign-and-trade deals. I doubt that even then, LeBron would be convinced to stay, though, especially after how he took this terrible team to the Finals. Yes, this would make them miles better, but would they beat Golden State? Still not very likely.

Miami Heat

LeBron could get a reunion back with the Heat and his BFF Dwyane Wade, but it would take a trade. Center Hassan Whiteside, and possibly Small Forward Justise Winslow, would have to be traded for Cousins, Kawhi, or Demar Derozan, which all seem unlikely, but Heat Team President Pat Riley, who may be the best in the business, could make it work. The Heat have great pieces, like Philly and Boston do, to be NBA Finals contenders if LeBron goes there. They could be the sleeper team in the LeBron sweepstakes for sure.

Golden State Warriors

No. Just no. Kevin Durant said no. GM Bob Myers wants Anthony Davis from the Pelicans instead. They don’t need LeBron, and they would have to trade too much to get LeBron, so why would they even bother? Also, why would LeBron want to ruin his legacy by going to a team that doesn’t need him to earn their rings? So, the answer is no.

Where Will LeBron Ultimately Go?

LeBron to LA will become a reality. With PG, Kawhi, and young stars like Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma, how can LeBron turn down the opportunity to play with this team. The roster also is very flexible, meaning that LeBron can make many trades to better the roster, and give himself valuable bench players. He had the luxury of doing this with the Miami Heat by getting himself Birdman (Chris Andersen), Ray Allen, Mike Miller, and Shane Battier. In Cleveland, he got himself Kevin Love, JR Smith, and Kyle Korver. Expect LeBron to get more role players like this. The Lakers also have the 25th pick which they could utilize in a trade to get a role player of LeBron’s liking, if he wishes to have the Lakers trade it. On top of the basketball reasons, if the whole ‘family could determine his decision’ rumor is indeed true, then LeBron to LA makes sense, especially since LeBron wants to get more well-known in Hollywood, so, why not LA?

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NFL Storylines Week 15: #StarWars Edition

The NFL season heads into its 15th week and at this point, teams are either playing for draft picks, a spot in the playoffs, or home-field in the playoffs. Here is how I see some of the biggest NFL storylines panning out, as compared to characters and movies of the Star Wars franchise:

What to Expect in The Return of Aaron Rodgers (the NFL’s Luke Skywalker)

Aaron Rodgers, the best quarterback in the NFL (yes, he is better than Brady), comes back off of a 9-week layoff from a collarbone injury he suffered in a Week 6 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Since his injury, the Packers have gone 3-4, and the Vikings have only lost 1 game. The Packers this week go to work in Charlotte against the Carolina Panthers, a team that currently holds the 5th seed in the NFC, but a loss could cost them a playoff spot. Now, you may be wondering, what do I expect out of Aaron Rodgers? I didn’t write a blog post about this, yet my preseason Super Bowl prediction was Packers-Steelers, with the Packers winning. My prediction has stayed the same, and the return of Rodgers, with all of the odds against him, gives me even more confidence as to what the Packers can do. In 2013, Rodgers had injured his collarbone and came back for Week 17 against the Chicago Bears. The winner of the game would go to the playoffs, and Rodgers won the game on a 4th and 8 with 46 seconds to go by throwing the game-winning TD to Randall Cobb. In 2014, after the team started 1-2 and people counted the Packers out, Rodgers had the famous R-E-L-A-X press conference, and the team ended up going 11-5 and were 1 game away from the Super Bowl. I expect Rodgers to work his late-season magic and lead the Pack to the playoffs, and to the Super Bowl. The force is strongest with Rodgers when they need it most.

A New Hope for Philly?

Carson Wentz was not just the possible MVP QB of the Philadelphia Eagles, but he was the man the city rallied around. He had done so much in supporting the city, especially through the AO1 Foundation, that he became a savior for the city of Philadelphia. Their dream season with Super Bowl hopes looked like it would become a reality, but Wentz’s ACL injury last week ended most hopes of that (by the way, my best wishes and prayers are out to Carson in hopes that he has a speedy recovery and comes back better than ever next season). Now, go back to the previous sentence where I said ‘most hopes’ are gone and not all. Yes, the Eagles have hope, ‘A New Hope’, as Star Wars fans would like to say. Nick Foles replaced Michael Vick in 2013 after his injury, and threw 27 TDs-2 INTs, won the NFC East, and became a Pro Bowler in that season. Now, I am not saying that you should expect Foles to play at that high a level, but to say that the Eagles have no chance at a Super Bowl is not right. I see NFC Championship Game for sure, but Super Bowl is unlikely. Don’t count out Foles.

The Steelers Killer B’s

The Killer B’s, Ben Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, and yes, even kicker Chris Boswell, are orchestrating a season similar to the way Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Princess Leia, and Chewbacca fought their way to victory against Darth Vader and the Emperor in ‘Return of the Jedi’, as The Killer B’s have led the Pittsburgh Steelers to an 11-2 season so far. This has led them to first place in the AFC, and nothing but smiles on the faces of them and all those in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh now goes faces their biggest test, ‘The Dark Side’ of the AFC, the New England Patriots, who are 10-3 after their suspect loss to the Miami Dolphins Monday night. Now, of course, this game not only will determine who will get home-field advantage, but the winner of this game will probably win the AFC and go the Super Bowl. After watching the stagnant and lethargic Pats offense, and the confused Pats defense, I have supreme confidence in Pittsburgh, especially since the game is in their house.

Why Roger Goodell Needs to be Replaced, Now!

Roger Goodell, the commissioner of the NFL, simply put, has no idea what he is doing. Yes, even Donald Trump and the Clintons knew what they were doing when they ran for the election. Goodell gets paid to make decisions which don’t help the game in any way, by getting an average of $34 million per year. While many people will argue that the reason for the ratings being down in the NFL over the last 2 seasons is because of protests and scheduling, it really isn’t. The reason for all of this goes back to Goodell, with his unreasonable suspension and non-suspensions of players, the fact that the NFL barely allows players to celebrate, that the players can’t wear custom shoes, the concussion protocols being rather lenient, etc., I can go on and on. The biggest part of Goodell’s stupidity is his viewpoints of suspensions. Roger Goodell has no consistency when it comes to judging how to suspend a player, and with Ezekiel Elliott’s final suspension decision soon to come in, I explain why Zeke, despite the fact that what he did really should cost him a season, should really cost him nothing:

Ezekiel Elliott: What Did He Do?

Ezekiel Elliott is, as of right now, going to have to serve a 6-game suspension for his alleged domestic violence case. The accuser, Tiffany Thompson, has provided evidence of pictures of bruises on her body, yet the NFLPA has said that the evidence, because of the way it was sent and produced, and because of the bad timing of it, that they cannot uphold the suspension. Elliott and the NFLPA have filed conspiracy against the NFL, saying that the NFL is ‘hiding critical information which would free Elliott’ from his suspension. So, did he do anything? Well, we really don’t know, and Goodell will do everything he can to make sure we won’t find out.

The History of Goodell’s Stupid Suspensions

Now, many people will think that there are certain suspensions that aren’t stupid, but trust me, they are. First, we start with the most infamous one by Goodell, which is the former Baltimore Ravens RB Ray Rice’s incident. Goodell originally had suspended Rice indefinitely, and then the video of Rice beating his now-wife Janay Palmer was released. The video showed the elevator opening, Rice beating his wife unconscious, and then dragging her out by the knees. Goodell admitted he hadn’t seen the video, which resulted in Goodell lowering it to just 2 games suspension. 2 GAMES ONLY? FOR BEATING YOUR WIFE? REALLY? It’s simply put, blasphemous. Former Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys player Greg Hardy had an alleged domestic violence case against him in 2015, and originally got 10 games, which was later reduced to 4. Former NY Giants kicker Josh Brown got just 1 game for beating his wife in 2016, when he admitted after he got cut by the Giants that he had over 20 incidents in which he beat his wife.

Why Goodell’s Stupidity Means Elliott Really Shouldn’t Be Suspended at all

These cases of domestic violence after the Ray Rice incident, were all suspensions in which Goodell promised at least 6 games of suspension to all of these players, yet none of these players have ended up with 6-game suspension. Goodell is notorious for hiding information which is valuable to the NFL knowing, and he is taking the money and running. Now, when I say Elliott shouldn’t be suspended, I am not saying that in reality he shouldn’t. In reality, Elliott should receive 1 season, and Rice, Goodell, Hardy, and Brown all deserved that too. However, because Goodell cannot cooperate with anything besides the money, and because he is so inconsistent with the numbers in terms of knowing how many games each player should be suspended, there definitely is a conspiracy against Elliott, because if Rice got 2, Elliott should get none. Also, how come someone who is on drugs gets suspended a full season? If anything, the players on drugs should get 2-game suspensions, and the players who commit domestic violence should get a season. The players that do drugs need to be with the team, in practice, and in the team rehab facilities at all times. Sure, they shouldn’t play, because the drugs are wrong, but the NFL should keep them off the streets to make sure they don’t harm themselves with the drugs. When players are on the team facilities, with their teammates and coaches, they are in their ‘safe house’, because they know that they are around people that care about their health and future just as much as they do.

Should Goodell Be Fired?

Yes. I don’t know what evidence can keep him, as well as the league, in control of the NFL. In fact, under the current madness the NFL is in under Goodell, since he is trying to get all the money he can to benefit himself and not the league, the NFL could be non-existent by as early as 2025. Goodell should be fired, and there are plenty of people who can replace him.

Roger Goodell Replacements

  1. Me

If I, a high school junior, has the courage to let the world know that Goodell is the world’s biggest idiot and should be fired, then why not hire me. Just read everything I just said. I have common sense, Goodell doesn’t.

  1. Condoleezza Rice

Well, I guess me being the NFL Commish is a bit unrealistic, so let me throw out some names that actually have a high chance of running the NFL. The first one is Condoleezza Rice. Rice, former Secretary of State, has admitted that her dream is to be the commissioner of the NFL, and the fact that she is also on the NCAA College Football Playoff Selection Committee, she is the clear front-runner for it.

  1. Bill Belichick

Belichick was the mastermind behind Spygate and Deflategate, so if he knows how to perfectly get a team’s playbook and deflate a football to his team’s advantage, he would be able to prove why guys like Ray Rice and Ezekiel Elliott deserve full-season suspensions. As manipulative as Belichick is, he is extremely smart and honest, and that is something that the NFL needs.

  1. Adam Silver

Silver, the NBA commissioner, is right now the most fearless and most outspoken commissioner in all of sports. He wouldn’t be scared to share evidence and expose players to the entire world, just ask Donald Sterling and Jeannie Buss.

  1. Ray Anderson

Anderson, the current Arizona State vice-president of athletics, was also the NFL executive Vice President for 8 years, so he knows what he is doing. The hard part will be convincing him to leave Arizona State.

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Is Lonzo Ball a Big Baller?

Lonzo Ball is the most coveted rookie ever to be drafted since LeBron James not just because of his father Lavar, but because of the fact that he is playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of the most accomplished teams in the history of the NBA. Ball has had huge expectations since his days at UCLA, thanks to his father. He said Lonzo would bring UCLA a championship. That dream ended in the Round of 16 of March Madness due to De’Aaron Fox’s 39-point outburst. He said that Lonzo would be drafted by the Lakers, which happened as we all know. Then there are some things that we have to wait and see before we can say they are true, such as if he is better than Stephen Curry, and that he will take the Lakers to the playoffs this year. Here is what I think about the potential of Lonzo Ball, and his shoe game.

Lonzo’s Potential

Lonzo Ball is the most gifted passer I have ever seen since Steve Nash. Much like Nash, Ball is a pass-first team player who is willing to sacrifice his scoring to set up others for easier scoring opportunities. While he was at UCLA, he averaged 7.6 assists per game, which broke UCLA records for assists in a season, and also propelled him into the top spot in the nation’s assist leaders. At UCLA, Lonzo averaged 14.6 points per game, which led his team. So far in the Summer League, he is averaging 16.4 points per game, and 9.2 assists per game, showing his innate ability to be a scorer and a distributor. While the scoring numbers may be slightly inflated due to the fact that he is playing against players fighting for a spot on an NBA roster, his ability to create opportunities for those same players on his team speaks volumes to his ability as a team leader. Lonzo already has proven that he is a Big Baller, but now he has also shown his potential to lead a team, be selfless, create scoring opportunities for himself, and be a good on and off-ball defender. He has the potential to be as good as Magic Johnson by the end of his career, as well as an NBA champion. Also, expect the #2 banner to up in Staples Center by the time Lonzo’s career is all set and done (as said by Magic Johnson).

Lonzo’s Shoe Game

Lavar Ball not only has put tremendous pressure on Lonzo to be one of the greatest players ever, but he has also started a shoe line under his family company’s name, Big Baller Brand. Shortly after Lonzo and UCLA were knocked out of the March Madness Tournament, Lavar tried to get Lonzo a shoe deal with either Nike, Adidas, or Under Armour. All three of the brands said no, which led to him creating the shoe line under the Big Baller Brand name. The ZO2 was unveiled, but to make Lonzo’s shoe stand out from the competition, Lavar priced it at $495. When interviewed about it, he said ‘if you can’t afford the shoes, you’re not a Big Baller.” In his first two Summer League games, Lonzo wore his Big Baller Brand shoes, but in his two latest games, he has worn the Nike Kobe AD, Adidas Harden 1 Lifestyle, and Under Armour Curry 4 (they were given to him by Curry). Lonzo said in an interview from TNT’s David Aldridge “when you’re a big baller, you can wear whatever you want,” showing the fact that he is still looking for a deal from the big companies, and by wearing their shoes is using this as a tactic to get the shoe deal. Lavar Ball told ESPN that since Lonzo is independent, “[he] is not forced to wear any brand as long as it’s okay with the NBA.” I think this is a great strategy and sooner than later, Lonzo will land himself a shoe deal with one of the major shoe brands.

 

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2017 MLB Season: The Big Storylines Going into All-Star Break

The 2017 MLB season has seen a lot of great individual performances, such as the show that Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger have been putting on as rookies, and also a lot of teams overachieving and underachieving their expectations, such as the Arizona Diamondbacks and Chicago Cubs, respectively. Here are some big storylines to look out for going into the All-Star Break in about a week’s time:

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger’s Rookie Ceilings

A lot of rookies hit the ‘rookie ceiling’, or the ‘rookie wall’, as some people like to call it. Aaron Judge (26 HRs) and Cody Bellinger (24 HRs) are on their way to breaking rookie records that have been almost impossible to break. Both are on pace to break Mark McGwire’s record of 48 HRs in a season, which has been standing since 1987, and the two have also excelled in other areas (batting average, on-base percentage, etc.). The challenge, however, is keeping this up. Both Bellinger and Judge have been invited to the Home Run Derby, however, Judge does not seem like he is as interested as Bellinger. In many ways, this is a smart move, as it keeps him healthier going throughout the rest of the season. I expect both of them to get 40+ HRs, but Judge breaks the record.

The Nationals’ Bullpen Struggles

The Washington Nationals seem to have some kind of a discombobulated and non-existent bullpen. As displayed yesterday evening in their 5-4 loss to the Chicago Cubs at home, the bullpen doesn’t know how to keep their composure. The Nationals were leading 4-2 with 1 out left when Blake Treinen decides to sleep-pitch his way to get the last out. Treinen let Javier Baez get a single after Jeimer Candelario got a base-hit with 1 out, and then Tommy La Stella’s RBI single brough both Baez and Candelario in to score, and that’s how the game ended. Now, that being said, the Nats’ big time bullpen players like Sammy Solis and Francisco Rodriguez are returning from injury and being signed to the team, respectively, so if those two can provide sparks for this team. The Nats can gain my full confidence as the favorites in the NL as their offense is extremely impressive.

Houston Doesn’t Have a Problem Anymore

The Houston Astros for the longest time were the laughing stock of the MLB, always having the worst record in the MLB, and just having a terrible roster and management, in general. Now, after years of tanking, the Houston Astros have found their way, and are the current holder of the MLB’s best record. They have the second-highest scoring offense (445 runs), and are 1st in batting average (.283), on-base percentage (.349), and slugging percentage (.485). On the pitching side, they are currently 3rd in earned-run average, or ERA (3.82). Houston is also expected to have 4 unanimously chosen All-Stars this year in Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, George Springer, and Lance McCullers. Expect this dominance to continue throughout the year, and for the Astros to be the World Series favorites.

 

 

What the Finals Loss Means to the Legacy and Future of LeBron James

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers fell to the Golden State Warriors in 5 games in the NBA Finals, proving me wrong about the buildup of the Golden State Warriors team. However, one thing that has not and will not change for me is my opinion towards the legacy of LeBron James. LeBron played his heart out, averaging a triple-double in the NBA Finals (33.6 points per game, 12 rebounds, 10 assists), becoming the first player to average a triple-double in the NBA Finals. LeBron has 3 wins and 5 losses in NBA Finals, but his legacy is still as steady as Michael Jordan’s. Jordan went 6-0 in the NBA Finals, but was 6-7 getting there. LeBron is 8-4. What’s better, getting to the Finals, or just getting to the playoffs? Yeah, getting to the Finals, even if you lose. LeBron is the one who has made himself and others so good that he is guaranteed to make it to the Finals, just ask any team in the Eastern Conference. This year, his Cavs were outplayed by a much more superior Warriors team in the Finals. Sure, LeBron had All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, but Golden State has 2 MVPs (Steph Curry and Kevin Durant), 3 of the greatest 3-point shooters ever (Steph, KD, and Klay Thompson), a Defensive Player of the Year candidate (Draymond Green), and a Finals MVP (Andre Iguodala), just to beat LeBron and Cleveland. To me, that just proves how much talent is needed to beat a perfectly assembled LeBron James team. Now, let us take a look at the legacy of James, and his future.

LeBron’s Legacy

LeBron James, as we mentioned, is 3-5 in Finals, but let us look at the wins and losses more closely. In 2007, LeBron James single-handedly took his Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals. LeBron, who was 22 at the time, was on the rise of being the ‘best player on the planet’, was playing stellar, but the San Antonio Spurs were too much in the NBA Finals, as he got swept. Then again, when you are only 22, your 2nd best player is named Jamario Moon (who was pretty bad, actually), and you are playing 3 Future Hall-of-Famers, expect to be swept. In 2011, when he became a member of the Miami Heat, he disappeared, not playing like himself, not wanting the ball, losing in 6 games. In 2012 and 2013, he became the ‘best player on the planet’, winning back-to-back championships over the OKC Thunder and San Antonio Spurs. 2014, in the rematch against the Spurs, the Spurs got their revenge. 2015, in LeBron’s return to the Cavs, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love both got injured, and LeBron fought his way on his own to take the Warriors to 6 games, but needed help to win. 2016 and 2017 were split with Golden State, with a 7-game thriller (Warriors blew a 3-1 lead), and losing in 5 games this year. Overall, you cannot blame him for the losses to Golden State. This year, he played his heart out and got beat by a superior team, and in 2015, he did the same, but didn’t have his star counterparts. LeBron really is 3-3 (in terms of wins and losses responsible for in NBA Finals), but the fact that he has gotten there with more success than Jordan (not to mention that LeBron has always gotten past the first round, whereas Jordan has been swept in the first round), speaks volumes to his ability to lead a team to success.

LeBron’s Future

LeBron James won’t be getting much more talent for this Cavs team anytime soon without trading Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving, or Tristan Thompson. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are options, but just Kevin Love for them isn’t enough. I think he should play it out next year, get to the Finals, maybe acquire better role players, and then test free agency in 2018.

LeBron fulfilled his lifelong promise of bringing a championship to Cleveland in 2016, so he has every right to leave the Cavs (again). Reports from Bleacher Report and CBS Sports say that James has considered going to Los Angeles, as he has a house there, and is looking to pursue ventures outside of basketball, and Hollywood is the best place to do it. He has been linked to LA for quite a few years now, dating back to 2007. Kobe Bryant decided to ask for a trade from LA, letting his ego get in the way as he wanted to win desperately. The trade never happened, but it put into perspective for the rest of James’ career that LA would be a possible place to go. If he is to leave, he is to go to either the Lakers or the Clippers. Both teams have great opportunity to beat the Warriors with James. The Lakers can get Paul George or Jimmy Butler (they should be able to get one of the two this year), they can draft Lonzo Ball who has huge superstar potential, and they can trade D’Angelo Russell or Jordan Clarkson for another superstar (of George and Butler, whichever one they do not get). LeBron could even build his dream superteam of his best friends Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul, and get them to play with him in LA. This would allow him to have a young team with veteran leadership around him, and allow him beat Golden State. Since LeBron can beat the Eastern Conference with his eyes closed, he can win many more championships.

With the Clippers, if they keep Chris Paul and Blake Griffin this year, they will have their Big 3 with them and DeAndre Jordan. Then they can lure James in, who has a great relationship with Paul, acquire another guy like Carmelo or Wade, and then get more role players, and LeBron can have a team that can beat Golden State, and win championships. Either way, he will have more success down the road going to LA than in Cleveland, so it makes sense that he leaves (sources say he wants to and will leave in 2018). Who knows, maybe LeBron will have more rings than Jordan after all, and become the GOAT.

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The THRILLogy Continues: Cavaliers-Warriors Part III

On June 4, 2015, the Golden State Warriors played the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, with the Warriors looking to put a storybook ending to their odds-defying season. On June 16, 2015, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers played Game 6 of the 2015 NBA Finals, with the Warriors winning the game and the NBA Finals that year. June 2, 2016, they met for the 2nd consecutive Finals. This one came down to 7 games, with Cleveland winning their first NBA Finals ever, and bringing the city of Cleveland their first championship in a professional sport in 52 years. On June 1, 2017, they will meet again for the 3rd straight year, the first time in NBA history that the same two teams have played each other three consecutive years. Here is some history of the last 2 NBA Finals, and my prediction for who wins it this year:

The History of the THRILLogy

2015: The Golden State Warriors had a league-best 67-15 record, while the Cleveland Cavaliers returned to the playoffs with a 53-29 record in LeBron James’s first year back with the team since leaving for the Miami Heat in 2010. The teams split their season series 1 game apiece, and had an easy path to the NBA Finals. The Warriors won the Finals in 6 games despite LeBron nearly averaging a triple-double in large part due to the fact that Cleveland’s second star, Kyrie Irving, injured his knee in overtime in Game 1, making the Warriors job on defense easy, having one less guy to worry about, since Kevin Love had gotten injured earlier in the playoffs (both would be out for the rest of the playoffs). This win showed the versatility of the Warriors, as league-MVP Stephen Curry had a rough series, but guys like Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, and Andre Iguodala stepped up (Iggy was the Finals MVP). This also showed that LeBron James, as inhuman as he played that series (averaging 35.8 points per game, 13.3 rebounds per game, and 8.8 assists per game), could not lead the team alone, and if the Cavs were healthy, they could win again if they made it back.

2016: Golden State played even better in the regular season, finishing with a 73-9 record, the best regular season record ever (most wins in a regular season). Stephen Curry averaged 30.1 points per game, 6.7 assists, and 2.1 steals per game on his way to winning back-to-back MVPs, and becoming the first player ever to win the league MVP unanimously. LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love combined to score an average of 61 points per game to lead their team. Both teams strolled through their conferences, and met again in the Finals. As we know, Golden State blew a 3-1 lead, and the rest is history.

This Year

Cleveland and Golden State started off well, and the Warriors continued it, as they got Kevin Durant in free agency on July 4th. Cleveland ended the season after the All-Star Break with a losing record, and people began to doubt them. The Warriors went 12-0 on their way to the Finals, and Cleveland went 12-1. Now, they meet again and are much better teams. This is the toughest test of LeBron James’ career, but with him on the team, LeBron can easily make this a series. James will outplay Durant, Kyrie will outplay Curry, Tristan Thompson will outplay Zaza Pachulia, and Kevin Love will outplay Draymond Green. So it comes down to Klay Thompson vs. JR Smith, and the benches. The Cavaliers bench has a lot more versatility than the Warriors bench, by acquiring Kyle Korver and Deron Williams in February, and on the Warriors side Klay has been very erratic. Last year, the Cavaliers left guys like Harrison Barnes open on shots to be able to play other guys on defense. This year, that guy will be Klay, as he is only shooting 36%. In the end, LeBron outplaying Durant is the biggest part of the reason that I believe Cleveland will repeat. Cleveland in 7. LeBron is the MVP, possibly the GOAT, and KD goes from potential all-time great to a guy who is a superstar with no credentials who made a weak move to leave the OKC Thunder to go to Golden State, the team that prevented him from going to the NBA Finals last year.