Best Finals in NBA History? I think so.
1. Lebron James
2 .Lebron James
3. Lebron James
4. Lebron James
5. Lebron James
Ok, maybe it’s a bit hyperbolic, but it’s really not far off to suggest that Lebron James has single-handedly made this year’s championship quest the most epic and suspenseful of all time. To all the naysayers who claimed the Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t stand a chance in the NBA Finals after Kyrie Irving’s knee injury put him out of play for the rest of the series, Lebron James is proving that he is a god among men. Working without two key teammates (Irving and Kevin Love), King James has veritably turned water to wine by pushing his threadbare team of role-players to deliver results that no one else suspected was possible. He’s done all this through leading by example, demanding more from himself and daring those around him to keep up.
Here are 5 reasons why this year’s NBA Finals will go down in history, thanks to Lebron:
1. It’s the Cavs’ first ever NBA Finals win in the franchise’s history
When Lebron announced last year that he was “coming home” to Cleveland, it was made clear that his intent was to bring home a championship. Lebron himself didn’t think that goal would be attainable in his first year back on the team, but now the Cavs are the closest they’ve ever been to winning the national title. Regardless of the ultimate outcome, this year will set a new standard of experience and expectation for the team for years to come.
2. It’s the first time in NBA Finals history that two first games have gone into OT
There’s nothing as thrilling as a high stakes basketball game that could go either way as the final seconds of the clock are ticking down. Though the Warriors eked out a win in Game 1 after the Cavs were too deenergized to keep up the pace during the extended 5 minutes of play, the first three games have made it clear that the Cavs set the general tone on the court from the first quarter. From then on, Golden State is in a constant battle to gain control of the court, and they’ve closed some pretty wide scoring gaps but rarely have they led by a significant amount. But who can blame them? They’re up against a force of nature.
3. Lebron’s total points for the first three games is the highest in NBA Finals history
With an accumulated 123 points scored thus far this series, Lebron has averaged a whopping 41 points per game. On any given night during the season, a 40-point game is a praise-worthy achievement, but to do that for three games in a row under mind-blowing pressure against the most talented team in the league?? Unbelievable.
4. Lebron’s Finals usage rate is off the charts
Stephen Curry may be the real MVP, but Lebron is demonstrating through this Finals series that his team relies on him more with a sky-high usage rate of 44% to Stephen’s 30.5%. That means that the Cavs’ rely on Lebron for their offensive plays almost 50% more than the Warriors rely on Steph for theirs. Chef Curry may have the pot, boy, but Lebron is setting the kitchen on fire.
5. The first three games achieved record-breaking viewership
According to ESPN, more households have tuned in to watch this year’s Finals games on ABC than ever before. And I wonder why? To see Stephen Curry record one of the worst shooting performances of his career, as he did in Game 2? No, to see the legend Lebron James avenge his snub for this season’s Most-Valuable-Player title through super-human feats of athleticism! With his Midas touch, Lebron even turns average, undrafted players to gold as we’ve seen with Matthew Dellavedova’s rapid ascent to basketball stardom.
In this period of racial tension and government distrust, there are few events that can so thoroughly engage the nation across cultural boundaries and instill such awe in the tenacity of the raw, unleashed human spirit. Lebron James has made this NBA Finals run that event. All the rest of us can do is watch in wonder, then reminisce upon it for years and years to come.