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.

Sources of Info:

 

NBA 2012-13 Christmas Game Predictions

The NBA will have possibly the greatest Christmas schedule in NBA Christmas Day game history. Here are the games and the predictions. These will be tough for certain people to predict, though I’ll take my best guesses.

The Christmas Day Matchups

Boston Celtics @ Brooklyn Nets, 12 p.m. EST

The Boston Celtics and the Brooklyn Nets are playing in a huge and very important Atlantic division matchup. Both teams have talented backcourts, as Joe Johnson and Deron Williams will lead the Nets, and Rajon Rondo leading the way for the Celtics. The Celtics have been struggling this season, and hope to end those struggles ASAP.

My call: The Boston Celtics will leave Brooklyn with a huge and unforgettable performance from Rajon Rondo, but come come up short of a win. The Final Score… Nets 109, Celtics 99

New York Knicks @ Los Angeles Lakers, 3 p.m. EST

The NY Knicks and the LA Lakers have already faced off this season, and the Knicks won 116-107, though the Lakers were Nash-less. Carmelo Anthony had left the game with with a left ankle injury after taking a hit from Lakers Center Dwight Howard on a very physical foul. Though both of these injured players are expected to return.

My call: The Lakers will finally show that they are good enough with Nash and that they are still a championship-caliber team. The Final Score: Lakers 111, Knicks 108

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Miami Heat, 5:30 p.m. EST

The Miami Heat will play their 2nd straight Christmas against their NBA Finals opponent. This year, they’ll face the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Heat beat the Thunder in 5 games, as LeBron James, probably the best player in the NBA right now, got the best of Kevin Durant, probably the 2nd best in the NBA right now, Dwyane Wade got the best of Russell Westbrook, and Chris Bosh got the best of defensive-minded player Serge Ibaka. The Thunder have been very quiet since then, and not as good as the James Harden-Thunder team from last season. The Heat have improved since last season by adding Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Though still, you can’t count any of these teams out, and this sure will be one exciting matchup in the 2011-2012 NBA Finals rematch.

My call: This will be the best game this Christmas and will be very unforgettable, as The Durantchula (Kevin Durant), and King James (LeBron James) post up eye-popping numbers. The Miami Heat will show that they are the best team in the NBA right now, as well as show why they were the winners of the 2011-2012 NBA Finals, and why they are the favorites for winning a repeat championship and adding one more Christmas win (and possibly one more ring to the Big 3’s resume’). The Final Score: Heat 120, Thunder 116.

Houston Rockets @ Chicago Bulls, 8 p.m. EST

The Houston Rockets are lead by James Harden and Jeremy Lin. The Bulls are lead by  Joakim Noah and Carlos Boozer. These are 2 teams that have had average seasons. None of the teams have eye-popping stats, they have multiple injured players, and both teams are not number 1 in their division or conference. The Rockets seemed like Western Conference favorites, and the Chicago Bulls seemed like ultimate flops, though the Rockets teams starting falling apart, and Tom Thibodeau started getting his team back on track.

My call: This will be the lowest-scoring Christmas Day game this season, though the Rockets have shown that they can challenge some great teams this season and will for many seasons to come. The Final Score: Rockets 86, Bulls 82.

Denver Nuggets @ Los Angeles Clippers, 10:30 p.m. EST

This game shows some Western Conference playoff atmosphere, and Lob City will play its 2nd Christmas Day game.

My call: Lob City, lead by Chris Paul, will blowout the Nuggets. The Final Score: Clippers 111, Nuggets 80

Your Thoughts? Leave a comment below…

My Top 5 NBA Power Rankings 2012-13

The NBA season is nearing, as tipoff is October 30th. Here are my power rankings and my expectations for each team this season.

(1) Miami Heat

The defending champions are coming in to this season as huge championship contenders for this season. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh had stellar performances in the playoffs, and should carry the load for the rest of the season. Mario Chalmers and Ray Allen will help out the Big 3 when certain struggles start happening.

(2) OKC Thunder

The Western Conference champions are turning into one of the more younger teams in the NBA. Kevin Durant and Co. have the talent to return to the Finals, though teams such as the Lakers and Clippers could come in their way and effect their huge run for this season.

(3) LA Lakers

The 1980 LA Lakers were called “Showtime” for their stellar offensive play. “Showtime” seems to return after the arrivals of free agent Steve Nash, and the 4-team deal in a trade which got them Dwight Howard, adding to the phenomenon called Kobe Bryant. Expect them to be competitive, though don’t be surprised if OKC surpasses them in the tough Western Conference battles.

(4) LA Clippers

The Clippers certainly got some hope when Chris Paul signed the deal with LA. The Clippers can get No. 1 in the Pacific Division, though their defense will need to improve for that to happen.

(5) Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have one of the oldest starting lineups in Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rajon Rondo has showed the world why he deserves to be the best point guard as well as the best passer in the NBA. Though this team certainly doesn’t lack any depth in their bench, with players like Leandro Barbosa, Keyon Dooling, Jason Terry, a fresh and healthy Jeff Green, and aging Darko Milicic, who is still considered a great jump shooter for a center and a great defensive player who continues to excel in his ability to help his team off the bench.

And the 2012-2013 NBA champion is…

The Miami Heat are repeat-champions thanks to the great bench play and help from Ray Allen. The LA Lakers will be the Western Conference champions and will surpass the OKC Thunder who have a struggling bench and are expected to lose James Harden near the trade deadline late February.

Award Picks:

MVP: LeBron James

Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard

Rookie of the Year: Anthony Davis

Coach of the Year: Eric Spoelstra

Most Improved Player of the Year: Jeremy Lin

Sixth Man of the Year: Ray Allen

* All Logos used here are property of the NBA and the respective teams.