The Los Angeles Lakers are four wins away from their goal as they advanced past an up-and-coming Denver Nuggets and now find themselves in the NBA Finals.
The Lakers will face off against the Miami Heat, a gritty team that went into the 2020 NBA Playoffs as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference. However, they have played far better than the normal middling seeded team and earned their Finals appearance.
For LeBron James, this Finals matchup offers up some intriguing storylines as it comes against the team he won his first two championships with. James will be pitted against his former head coach Erik Spoelstra and team president Pat Riley, two figures who helped mold him into the player and leader he is today.
James and the Heat did not leave on the most graceful terms, but the forward said defeating Spoelstra and Riley would not provide more meaning behind a title. “Absolutely not,” he said.
“It’s no extra meaning to winning a championship, no matter who you’re playing against. It’s already hard enough to even reach the Finals, to be in this position. If you’re able to become victorious out of the Finals, it doesn’t matter who it’s against.
“I’m just happy that I’m here with the opportunity to represent not only myself but represent our fans, our organization, my teammates, our coaching staff, our training staff and so many others that represent this organization to the utmost respect.”
While James would not buy into the storyline about he, Spoelstra, and Riley he did point out what stands out about Miami’s team. “I would think two things,” James began.
“One, how hard they play for 48 minutes, no matter if they’re up, no matter if they’re down. They play extremely hard. And I think two, it would be the way they move off the ball, they share the ball.
“Everyone is live on the floor. There’s not one guy that you can disrespect or be off throughout the course of an offensive possession. And they do a helluva job moving without the ball, sharing the ball, cutting, passing. Those are two things that stand out.”
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel believes the Heat have three All-Stars on their team and that will be a tall task for James and company to overcome.
LeBron reflects on Heat days
James began his championship runs in earnest when he played for Miami where he would eventually come away with two rings. It was in Miami that James really began to transform into the player and leader he is today, and he opened up about lessons he learned in South Beach.
“I think as far as leadership, that grows no matter where you are every day if you want to be a leader,” explained James.
“I think being around Riles and Spo, D-Wade and U.D., just to name a few, being a part of that culture allowed me to grow, allowed me to see what it takes to not only compete for a championship but also to win a championship.
“So it definitely put me in a position where I knew what it took. I saw what it took. But also I fit that culture as well because of how hard I worked. It was a perfect match for those four years.”
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