He is the best basketball player since Michael Jordan, and perhaps when his career is over, Lebron James may be considered the very best player to ever hit the hardcourt.
With the Cavaliers 113-83 win over the Atlanta Hawks in the East Final of the NBA playoffs last night, the Cleveland Cavaliers return to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2007. King James ascends to the title series for the 5th consecutive season and becomes the first player in NBA History to do that with two different franchises.
How important is James to his team? Ask the Miami Heat, who didn’t even qualify for the NBA post season this year after four straight runs to the Finals with James at the helm. The Heat may have been DeWayne Wade’s team, but LeBron wasn’t just riding shotgun, he had a hand on the wheel and the stick shift.
In Cleveland this year, Lebron willed his team to play better, and to learn how to play together. It took all season, but this team is peaking at the right time, even without key players.
Kevin Love has been out since the opening series with a shoulder issue, while Kyrie Irving has been sporadically in and out of the Cavs lineup with a knee issue. Normally when you knock two legs out of a three legged table, the table crashes; not LeBron’s table, not yet.
James has taken role players like Canada’s Tristan Thompson and Australian guard Matthew Dellavedova and made them important pieces to the Cavaliers success.
What James has brought back with him from his four year sabbatical to South Beach is the knowledge that he may indeed be the best player in the NBA, but even in a star driven league, it is the best team that wins the Finals.
James will now look to end a drought by the city of Cleveland that hasn’t seen a pro sports team win a title since 1964. If LeBron can erase that dubious distinction from Cleveland’s slate, he truly will ascend and become the King of the NBA…and Ohio.