It took two years, but LeBron James accomplished what he set out to do when joining the Los Angeles Lakers as he has led them back to the NBA Finals.
James put on a masterful performance against the Denver Nuggets in Game 5, sealing the Western Conference Finals with a flurry of jumpers in the fourth quarter. He finished the night with 38 points, 16, rebounds and 10 assists, his fourth triple-double of the 2020 NBA Playoffs.
Confetti started raining down from the rafters in celebration of Los Angeles’ accomplishment, but James was seen sitting on the ground not smiling like some of his teammates. “One, getting my breath back underneath me after a hard-fought series against one of most well-coached teams I’ve ever played against in the postseason, one of the most respected teams I’ve played against,” James began to explain.
“Obviously, you guys know how much I love Mike Malone. He’s incredible. He’s the reason why that team is so damn good. So I was thinking about that. I was also thinking about some of my teammates who this is their first appearance to the Finals. Obviously A.D. had a lot on my thought process. This is the reason why I wanted to be a teammate of his and why I brought him here. I wanted him to see things that he had not seen before in this league.
“To be able to come through for him meant a lot for me personally. Then I started thinking about the next opponent. Boston had a few moments in my head. Miami had a few moments in my head as well. How challenging that’s going to be, whoever wins that series. Then I just started thinking about my journey as well.
“All that was just going through my mind as the confetti was on the floor, was coming down, landing on my shoulder and things of that nature.”
This marks James’ 10th NBA Finals appearance, which is nothing short of remarkable when considering all he has already done in his illustrious career. His amount of preparation and high level of play are reminiscent of Kobe Bryant and James himself acknowledged the similarities between the two.
It has been a hard-fought playoffs so far for James and the Lakers, but they are well aware that their goals are set much higher than a Finals berth.
LeBron reflects on getting Lakers back to NBA Finals
It was a fair question whether or not James would be able to get L.A. back into title contention, but he has done that and more as they are considered the favorites to win it all in the coming weeks.
The franchise has gone through so much the past decade, and James opened up about what it meant to bring the organization back to championship final round. “For me personally, the job is not done,” he said.
“But it’s great to hit moments throughout the course of a journey and appreciate that. For us as a franchise, I’m extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs, and that’s playing for championships and competing for championships and representing the Western Conference in the championships.”
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