Is This LeBron's Greatest Run?
*Photo via TNS
With the table now set for this 2015 NBA Finals, the NBA’s best Golden State Warriors will play host to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Thursday, June the 4th. The league's MVP, Stephen Curry can for one final time, show the fans why he earned the league's most prized individual award by guiding his team to victory. On the other hand, the best basketball player on the planet, LeBron James a four-time MVP himself may have something to say about it.
When news broke that James had decided to end his run with the big three in Miami and return home to Cleveland, the basketball world was shocked. Then there were rumors that another big three could form, this time in Cleveland, with Kevin Love coming to join James and Kyrie Irving. The rumor eventually ended up as most rumors rarely are, true, immediately, the NBA was put on notice and the most recent super team was formed.
Although it would take some time, and LeBron came out and admitted it, players around this league and the basketball world knew how special this team could be. With a top five point guard, a top three power forward, and the best player in the game, for this team the sky was the limit. In a very weak Eastern Conference, one that LeBron has dominated over his time in the league, there was nothing for the Cavs to fear on their road to the NBA Finals.
After a mediocre start, the Cavs put together an amazing second half of the season, which was good enough to place them in second in the Eastern Conference. In a weak Eastern Conference, the Cavs would play the Boston Celtics in the first-round. Game 4 of the Boston series offered a horrific blow to the Cavs, as Kevin Love was sidelined for the rest of the playoffs with a shoulder injury. It was time for LeBron to show just how great he is and lead his team through the next couple of rounds without the team’s third leading scorer.
Next up for James and the Cavs was the Chicago Bulls, a team who James has had tremendous success against in the past. With that in mind, James was able to lead his injury riddled Cavs past the Bulls in six games and into the Eastern Conference Finals, where they would play the Atlanta Hawks. Again though, this time without Kyrie Irving, the Cavs were able to dismantle another Eastern Conference team and thus send themselves to the NBA Finals where they will meet up with the Warriors on basketball’s biggest stage.
With the Cavaliers going 12-2 in these playoffs before entering Game 1 on Thursday, it begs to ask if this is LeBron’s greatest run to the finals ever?
When looking back at so many postseason runs by the “King”, it is hard to choose which one was truly the greatest. In 2007, he took a pretty much mediocre Cavaliers roster to a finals meeting versus the San Antonio Spurs eventually coming up short. In that year, the Cavs went 12-4 before entering the NBA Finals versus the Spurs, and LeBron was helping them by putting up godly numbers along with a sheer will to win at all costs.
With Lebron James being so young at the time (22 years old) and leading a mediocre Cavs roster at best to an NBA Final is an amazing task that should not be overlooked. However, in sports all around the world, the losing team is often times irrelevant, no one ever remembers second place, and unfortunately for LeBron and his Cavs they fell just short in 2007.
In 2011, however, after teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron made another run to the finals, this time with the Miami Heat. This run to the finals was incredible as it was only the first year the team was together. Again though the team fell short and this time Lebron had much more help getting there.
The same argument can be made for the next three years, where LeBron was a member of the Heat. Although he would put up incredible numbers in all facets of the game, the unanimous opinion was that Lebron had help and needed to win one on his own to solidify himself as a one of the top players this league has ever seen.
Now in Cleveland, Lebron has a chance to end this year’s playoff run in memorable fashion. This year has been right up there with the 2007 season as LeBron’s greatest run to the NBA Finals as he has had to deal with so much adversity. After losing Kevin Love for the remainder of the playoffs, Lebron was forced to shoulder more of a load on the offensive end. Then Kyrie Irving went down with knee issues forcing LeBron to shoulder even more of the offensive weight, becoming a volume shooter, something he has never really taken a liking to his entire career.
Although the Eastern Conference is weak, it has been for years, and for LeBron to make his fifth straight appearance in the NBA Finals this year is a testament to how great he is. Virtually carrying this Cavaliers team all the way to the NBA Finals with not much help from the other all stars on the team shows why this may just be the greatest run to the NBA Finals of James’ career.
With 2007 being the only other comparable season in which Lebron made a run as incredible as this, the Cavaliers still lost and thus were deemed irrelevant. If Lebron can find a way to bring the Larry O’Brien Trophy back home to Cleveland, not only will this be the greatest playoff run of his career, but also it would cement him as one of the best to ever do it.