Can LeBron James be stopped?
Going to five consecutive NBA finals is nothing short of a big deal. In fact, Mr. James is the first player to do it in almost fifty years (which mostly defines the only era of NBA that most of us are familiar with). If this wasn’t huge enough, the 1966 NBA (when Bill Russell achieved the same accomplishment) consisted of only ten teams combining both conferences.
Considering today’s thirty team NBA, we can almost say LeBron’s feat is thrice as huge. The list for his achievements in his (far from over) 12-year career is a huge one. We all know it for a fact that he’s on his way to become a future Hall of Famer and the fact that he’s one of the greatest of all time is not up for debate. But the here and now question that is yet to be answered is if he can be stopped.
Gifted players like Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have always faced a problem of having a great supporting cast. Jordan needed Pippen, Bryant needed Fisher and Johnson needed Worthy. These number two heroes on the rosters were the reason these legends became legends and thus they became heroes for our heroes.
Without the supporting cast, the hero isn’t as effective and LeBron faces the same situation. Teams with big threes are very effective because three people can do a good job of carrying the team without getting gassed but when one person carries the team on his sole shoulders; we see a lot of wear and tear.
Kobe faced a situation after missing the three-peat where he couldn’t trust his teammates to perform in a critical situation and thus chose to carry his team on his shoulders. Of course like other greats before him, he was accused of being selfish but he and his teammates knew why he had to do that.
LeBron had a good run with Bosh and Wade as his supporting cast in Miami and once he came home, he had Irving and Love to help him dominate. It was a new team who had never played together before and most of the parts of the puzzle were unfamiliar with each other. The start of the post-season resulted in Kevin Love dislocating his shoulder and being out for the season. Kyrie Irving played well but got battered and clearly isn’t a hundred percent. These battle scars have surprisingly shown us what the bench players could do.
Tristan Thompson showed us how dominant he could be on those offensive rebounds, JR Smith and Iman Shumpert proved their worth being dominant on both ends of the floor and Matthew Dellavedova being a differently good point guard showed us how a relatively smaller man can become a problem for all five opponents on the floor. Dellavedova may not have the ball handling skills or speed of Irving, but he makes up for it in heart when he dives for loose balls and grabs offensive rebounds while drawing fouls. As good as the current supporting cast may seem, it’s not as reliable for a newly formed team aiming to win the first championship for Cleveland. For that, we turn to the King.
When in trouble, call the King
We know that when Cleveland is in a pickle, there’s no better answer than giving the ball to the best player in the world. Sure, the playoffs have already taken a lot out of LeBron James. We’ve seen him gassed and almost injured. He, like most people in the playoffs right now, is fighting pain and fatigue while trying to push a little harder and trying to reach the Larry O’Brien trophy.
He has the most to lose on this championship because of the same reason he has the most to win. If he wins this title it is a clear testament to the sheer greatness that LeBron James is. He’s playing a better team, a better coach, the regular season MVP. If he beats the Golden State Warriors, he’s right up there with the greats; but if he doesn’t, the Jordan vs LeBron debate takes a nosedive.
At thirty years old; LeBron, while getting wiser, isn’t getting any younger. The greatest boost Jordan fans have in the debate is that LeBron clearly doesn’t have enough rings on his finger to be with the elite class of Michael Jordan. If LeBron wants to be the undisputed GOAT, he needs to win more championships and he needs to do it now.
There are a number of reasons as of this moment to put your money on Golden State seeing as they are clearly healthier. The splash brothers should be good after their surprisingly minor head injuries. The warriors have faced and overcome greater challenges in the form of Harden’s Rockets, who beat Griffin’s Clippers, who beat the reigning champions in the first round.
The western conference has certainly been a great challenge unlike its eastern counterpart. We can also say that the Warriors are deeper as a team. Time has shown us that players can win games but only great teams win championships. Steve Kerr is undoubtedly a more experienced coach than David Blatt. He’s made fewer mistakes (to put it mildly).
The warrior’s respect and trust in their coach outweighs the respect and trust Blatt gets from the Cavaliers. While Golden State has skill and coordination, Cleveland has heart and emotion. They also have this player called LeBron James. Let’s see if this point is big enough to shadow the many Golden State has. Only time will tell us if LeBron can be stopped.