For the first time in his legendary career, LeBron James finds himself playing in the Western Conference. For years, many thought James would avoid heading West as being in the Eastern Conference almost guaranteed him a trip to the NBA Finals.
This made his decision to sign with the Los Angeles Lakers even more surprising to some as it essentially has put his streak of eight straight Finals in serious jeopardy.
Since James rejoined the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2014, the only team to knock him out of the playoffs had been the Golden State Warriors, and they did it three times in four years. Now that James is in the West, however, matching up with the Warriors won’t be coming in the Finals, but possibly in the rounds prior.
Because of this, staying in the Eastern Conference always felt like the safe option for James. However, his streak of eight straight Finals never even once crossed his mind when he decided to join the Lakers, via Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports:
“Nah, that was never a thought,” James told Yahoo Sports after posting 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in 18 minutes in a 123-113 victory over the back-to-back champs at T-Mobile Arena. “I don’t really buy into [defeat]. I feel like with me on the floor, I can compete versus anybody individually. But at the end of the day, in order to win, your teams have to be great. Individuals are very great, but in order to win a championship, you have to have great teams.”
While the deck may stacked against him, there’s some who believe James and the Lakers are capable of a run to the Finals this season. However, it’s clear that his path is likely the hardest it’s ever been.
The last time James was not in an NBA finals, Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Paul Pierce and the Boston Celtics in seven games. So perhaps having James is simply enough to overtake the Warriors in the Western Conference playoffs, but James seems at peace with the fact that his legendary streak may come to an end this season.
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