On Monday the Golden State Warriors fulfilled the prophecy that the 2016 offseason foretold.
After losing their grip on a 3-1 lead in The Finals in 2016, the greatest team in NBA regular season history decided it needed one more piece before they could take down LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. They brought in Kevin Durant, one of the best three players in the league who was also hungry for a championship. When it was all said and done the Warriors got through the 2017 postseason with just a single loss.
The Warriors put the blown 3-1 lead jokes in the past and Kevin Durant got the championship that he desired. Now we are left to an offseason of people wondering just how long this dynasty could last.
But in the midst of all this, there is one fact that should not be overlooked:
LeBron James is still the best basketball player on the planet, and he proved it in The Finals.
There will be people this offseason that try to claim that LeBron didn’t do enough for his team, that now that he’s 3-4 for his career in The Finals, and that he will never be as great as Jordan.
Not so fast.
Through five games against a superteam constructed specifically to defeat him, LeBron became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in The Finals, sporting a split line of 33.6 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists per game. He also lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, minutes, and field goal percentage.
But his historic statistical performance doesn’t even tell the whole story of his impressive run this season. At almost every moment when it was possible for one man to rise to the challenge of defeating the Warriors on his own, LeBron was there to do it. He drilled threes when the Cavs needed them most, played defence on three of the most potent offensive players in the NBA, and when no one else was open, he threw up an alley-oop to himself.
His Herculean effort was never more evident than in the first half of Game 2, when LeBron went Super Saiyan and basically chose to drive the ball and get his points no matter who was guarding him. In that half alone, LeBron tallied 18 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 steals and a block, making plays like this one along the way.
With no other options, James simply tucked the ball to his side like a running back hitting an A-gap and drove to the hole, daring someone to stop him, knowing no one could.
At halftime, the Cavaliers still trailed the Warriors by three.
This series clearly showed that the Warriors are the best basketball team in the league, and maybe all time. It also proved that Kevin Durant is not only among the best players in the league and a deserving champion, but also capable of reaching a plane of basketball enlightenment that elevates his game from very good to unstoppable.
But more than anything, these Finals proved once again that LeBron James is the best player on Earth.
LeBron carried his team as far as he could. Looking back on this season, people will forget that before The Finals, LeBron and company were 12-1 in the postseason. If not for the Warriors, the Cavs dominance would be an overwhelming playoff storyline. Against Golden State, he met an army of players constructed just to stop him, and LeBron still put in a superhuman effort the likes of which we’ve literally never seen before.
The Warriors may be champions, but LeBron is still the King.
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