After his first year with the Los Angeles Lakers ended in disappointing fashion, LeBron James has redeemed himself and led the storied franchise back to the NBA Finals after a stellar performance to close out the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals.
James was determined to make sure that the Nuggets would not overcome another 3-1 series deficit, bullying his way to the rim in the first half and sealing the game with several consecutive jumpers in the fourth quarter.
The superstar forward finished the night with his fourth triple-double of the 2020 NBA Playoffs, recording 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists in 40 minutes of action.
It had been 10 years since the Lakers were last in the Finals, when Kobe Bryant led the way for the storied franchise. With James set to make his first Finals appearance with L.A., he will have a chance to forge another connection with Bryant and Laker history.
In his postgame interview, James opened up about Bryant and why he is able to relate so much to the Laker legend. “Every time you put on purple and gold, you think about his legacy,” James began.
“You think about him and about what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years, and what he stood for both on the floor and off the floor. What he demanded out of his teammates and what he demanded out of himself. We have some similarities in that sense. Our games are different, but as far as our mindset and our drive to want to be the best and our drive to not lose. Sometimes you’re going to lose games, but that drive to always want to be victorious, it stops you from sleeping. And sometimes you sacrifice a lot of things.
“You sacrifice your family at times because you’re so driven to be so great that other things fall by the wayside at times. So I understand that. I’m one of the few that can understand the mindset that he played with and the journey from high school to the NBA. It’s just a thing that I carry with me, like I said, every time I decide at one point in that locker room before the game when I throw that jersey on.”
Even with Bryant gone, James and the rest of the Lakers have kept his memory close throughout their postseason run. Bryant was a maniacal competitor on the court who would do anything to win and so far the team has embodied that spirit and mentality.
James’ comments are an indication that he is well-aware of the stakes at hand, but he appears locked in and ready to compete for his fourth NBA title. Like Bryant, James’ greatness shows up when the games matter most and his performance in Game 5 against the Nuggets is hopefully a foreshadowing of this upcoming Finals series.
LeBron committed to going all out when on the floor
Prior to his fourth quarter performance in Game 5, James appeared to be wearing down late in games.
Given the energy and effort he plays with on both ends, it would be understandable for him to try and save energy throughout the game but James refuted that notion. “I don’t reserve any energy,” James said.
“I’m on the floor, I give it all I got. If I need a break, I ask for a break. Coach has done a good job of getting me out throughout the course of the game. I don’t look at it as a reserve tank. I’ve got pretty good energy when I’m on the floor all the time.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!