It’s easy to start tearing into LeBron James after yet another NBA Finals loss, his second to the Golden State Warriors. He’s now sporting a 3-5 record in the Finals. That doesn’t exactly bode well for the man chasing “the ghost who played in Chicago.” But let’s be clear about something: This latest fall should have absolutely zero negative impact on LeBron James’ legacy.
NBA Finals Loss Does Not Hurt LeBron James’ Legacy
Let’s Not Forget the Accomplishments
This was James’ seventh straight Finals appearance, which he has made with two different teams. James’ illustrious career (which is still far from over) includes three NBA championships, with three Finals MVP awards, and eight Finals appearances. He’s won the regular season MVP on four separate occasions and has a Rookie of the Year award to boot. That’s without even mentioning that he’s been the best basketball player on the planet for years.
When James first arrived in the NBA, the Cleveland Cavaliers were a joke. They were dead last and an afterthought throughout the league. The following season, they began to turn it around and fell one game short of a playoff birth. This upward trend started a spree of six consecutive winning seasons, including five straight playoff appearances. If you don’t think that’s impressive, how about this: Can you name another player on that roster during those seasons outside of LeBron James? And no, Kyrie Irving didn’t join the team until after James had already left. And when James was gone, Irving wasn’t exactly carrying this team to the playoffs.
The same could be said about the Miami Heat when it was just Dwyane Wade holding down the fort. Mind you, Chris Bosh also joined that season, but I doubt Bosh had a bigger impact than the King. That team went on to appear in four consecutive Finals, winning two of them (with LeBron capturing both Finals MVPs). Once he returned to Cleveland, Miami became a borderline playoff team and even missed out on the postseason in 2015.
He may not yet have the number of championships that Michael Jordan has, but James’ impact wherever he’s gone is undeniable.
LeBron James’ Legacy
James is already known as the most influential athlete right now, not only in basketball, but maybe in all of sports. His impact will forever be implanted in the minds of anybody who has had the chance to witness his greatness. He’s overcome being scrutinized since he was 15 years old, growing up without a father, and bringing a championship to, not just a city, but his city. A city that hadn’t experienced a title in any major sport in more than 50 years. Say what you want about him, but LeBron James’ legacy will be not only as an all-time NBA great, but one of the all-time great athletes.
What Does the Future Hold?
Wherever James goes, he will always be favored to reach the NBA Finals. The challenge will be about overcoming arguably the most talented team in NBA history. If there is a way that the Cavaliers can improve their current roster and get enough talent to at least compete with Golden State, James can take over a series and elevate everybody around him. After all, we’ve seen it before, like in the 2016 Finals.
Michael Jordan never faced a team like the Warriors when he was in his heyday, so comparisons between the two will be an ongoing topic until James has hung up his sneakers for good.