LeBron James, King of the East

In a dominating performance Friday night, LeBron James led the Cavaliers to a 4-2 series victory over the Toronto Raptors and clinched his sixth straight NBA Finals appearance.

That’s something that hasn’t been done since the Boston Celtics of the 1960’s. Not since the days of Bill Russell, a player who won 11 championships in 13 years, has anyone dominated one of the NBA’s conferences.

Think about that for a second. Winning an NBA championship is extremely hard. Winning the Eastern or Western Conference in any season is a major accomplishment. LeBron has now done that for six consecutive years. 

It’s something Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird couldn’t do. And he’s done without missing a single playoff game along the way.

Yes, it’s easy to point to his poor 2-4 record in those Finals. But that only serves to miss the point entirely.

Imagine an NFL player going to six straight Super Bowls. We’d have to rename the Lombardi Trophy.

What LeBron has done, year after year, in two different cities, through an Olympic and FIBA basketball cycle, is nothing short of amazing.

His performance on Friday was a typical LeBron effort. He started hot early to score 14 points in the first quarter and then sat back and orchestrated the rest of the game. He finished with 11 rebounds and six assists in addition to a team-high 33 points. It was the kind of expert performance that LeBron has somehow made look mundane.

He was controlled and determined to the very end, playing 39 of the game’s first 43 minutes, but LeBron gave us a rare peek behind the curtain in his postgame interview Friday night. He voice cracked in a genuinely emotional moment.

“Last year, I don’t think I appreciated it enough, going back to the Finals,” he told Doris Burke.

Let’s all agree not to make the same mistake.

 

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