HARISON HAMM, Opinion Editor—At the writing of this article, the NBA Finals is ongoing.
Given time constraints and deadlines, I will spare the Xs and Os analysis — there is certainly much to be said in that department, though the Miami Heat’s spat of injuries make them big underdogs against the Los Angeles Lakers.
Let’s instead focus on LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers’ superstars who are on the verge of a title in their first season together.
The historical significance of this run can’t be overlooked. James has a chance to add a fourth title (with a third different team!) to a resume built to rival Michael Jordan.
This run is unlike any other in LeBron’s ridiculous career. It came a year after he missed the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
He spent last year injured, drinking wine and publicly wishing he was playing with Davis instead of a cast of Young Core Lakers who weren’t good enough.
Entering his 17th professional season, it seemed like he was in his twilight, relaxing on his laurels in LA. He wasn’t done, to be sure, but adding something significant to his legacy at this point felt far-fetched. Confidence wasn’t high in the Lakers’ management, which had been nothing short of chaotic.
They’ve proved everyone wrong, amid a series of obstacles, and stand as heavy favorites against the Heat in the Finals.
Think back to the start of the season: The Lakers were the team stuck in China during the preseason when Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey caused an international incident with a pro-Hong Kong tweet that angered the Chinese government.
LeBron had to stumble around impossible diplomatic questions, and the team couldn’t leave their hotel room.
A few months later, Lakers legend Kobe Bryant died suddenly in a helicopter crash.
LeBron spoke emotionally in front of Lakers fans in their first game after Bryant’s passing.
The team has worn a “24” patch ever since, and has made a habit of wearing Black Mamba-themed uniforms in Game 2s of the playoffs.
Winning a championship in the aftermath of Kobe’s death would be storybook. (If there’s a Game 7 against the Heat, they’re scheduled to wear the Black Mamba uniforms).
Right before the playoffs were supposed to begin, the pandemic hit, and most NBA teams had to gather in a tight bubble that has worked fantastically well.
LeBron was always uncertain about playing without fans and he hinted at the wider issue of missing his family after a rough start, but he grew to embrace it and has been dominant in the playoffs.
The bubble nearly broke over social justice issues, too, until all-night players meetings saved the season.
The Lakers’ most threatening rivals fell apart in their own ways. LeBron and AD — arguably the NBA’s best two-headed monster since Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant — figured out the unique circumstances.
A win over the Heat, LeBron’s former team, would be a legacy-builder and an NBA story for the ages.
As this article was written, Los Angeles leads the series 2-1 and game four has yet to be played. For a recap of previous games, go to www.nba.com/playoffs/2020/finals.
Here is a schedule of remaining games in the NBA Finals:
- Friday 10/9- Game 5: 9:00 PM on ABC
- Sunday 10/11- Game 6 (if necessary): 7:30 PM on ABC
- Tuesday 10/13- Game 7 (if necessary): 9:00 PM on ABC