Respect the King

on June 2016 | in Sports | by Dario Passarelli | @PapaDart | with No Comments

Either you like LeBron James or you hate him and whatever I write from here on out isn’t going to change your mind. That’s perfectly fine with me as that isn’t my intention at all. However, if for whatever reason you are as hopelessly confused as ESPN’s Skip Bayless and think that James was not the MVP, I am sorry, I don’t think you know basketball as well as you think you do.

There is no doubt whatsoever that LeBron James was the rightful MVP and the argument can be made with or without using numbers. But since the world has fallen in love with analytics the past few years, let’s take a look at the contribution he made in these Finals. LeBron James led both teams in scoring with an average of 29.7 ppg. LeBron James led both teams in rebounds with an average of 11.3. LeBron James led both teams (you are beginning to see a trend here aren’t you) in assists with 8.9 per game. Steals? Yup, you guessed it LeBron James led in that category too with 2.6 per game and hold on, what’s this? LeBron James also led both teams in blocks with 2.3 per game as well. LeBron James led in almost every single category. That alone is enough to crown him MVP and it may very well go down as one of the greatest NBA Finals performance ever. So please walk away with any suggestion that someone else deserved the MVP. LeBron James should have been the MVP even if the Cavs lost the series.

As much as James did, he certainly didn’t win the championship on his own as Kyrie Irving was also instrumental and other role players like JR Smith and Canadian Tristan Thompson also pitched in at times. But again, to see if James really was that important, let’s track how some of these players were when he wasn’t on the court. JR Smith was 0/9, Matthew Dellavedova 0/7, James Jones 0/3 and Iman Shumpert 0/2 for a combined 0/21. I don’t think you win too many games, let alone series when you get no contribution from your role players. LeBron James attracts so much attention that everyone around him plays better.

There is no question that LeBron James is the leader of the Cleveland Cavaliers and there is no question he is the major factor of their successful championship campaign. Numbers don’t lie. But take a step back and you begin to appreciate the context in which he delivered this masterful performance. First off no team that was down 3-1 in the Finals ever came back to win a championship. The Cavaliers just did. To do that they had to win two games at Oracle Arena which is no easy task considering over the past two years, the Golden State Warriors have the best home record. Speaking of the Warriors, as you recall, this wasn’t just some run of the mill “just lucky to be here” team. This is the team that won a record 73 games in the regular season and quite possibly the best team in the history of the NBA. Yet, it still was LeBron James and the Cavaliers who beat them three games in a row. Finally, with all the pressures of a game 7, it is quite understandable that the more comfortable home team has won 101 out of 126 times. The Cavaliers managed to be one of the few teams to win it on the road.

Say what you will about LeBron James. Call him names for his immature “Decision” special he had years ago. But do not disrespect his place in NBA history. Saying he is or isn’t the best player in the history of the game is a fool’s errand anyway because it really is quite subjective. But he has to be considered as one of, if not, the most complete player to ever play the game. You see how he dominates practically all of the statistical categories and he has done so on the biggest stage, at the biggest time against the best competition. Still need more? LeBron James has played in an NBA Finals Game 7 twice. The first time in 2013 with Miami he led his team in points (37), rebounds (12) and tied for first in assists (4). This year all he managed to do was get a triple-double, something only 2 other players have done in history. LeBron James is not only clutch, he is the King.

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