This column reflects the opinion of the writer and does not in any way reflect the views of The Stanford Daily.
After an exaggeratedly long break after the uneventful conference finals, the NBA finals finally dawn. This brings about not only a promise of entertaining television in the next episode and rubber match of the trilogy between LeBron’s Cavs and super-team Golden State Warriors, but also (hopefully) a promise of good basketball.
However, regardless of whoever raises the trophy by the end of the championship series, one thing remains absolutely solidified following this regular and postseason – LeBron still (by far and away) owns the NBA throne.
As a Kobe fanatic, the arrival of LeBron and his ascendency to the top of today’s NBA hasn’t always been a welcome sight of mine. After James’s “The Decision” hour-long special, I joined a number of outraged yet delusional fans who voiced anger with not only LeBron’s decision to join friend Dwayne Wade in Miami but also the method that the King decided to leave his hometown Cavs franchise.
Entering into the second episode of the current championship trilogy during last season’s finals, I (foolishly) bought into the prevailing rhetoric of all sports media outlets: Was this the year that Steph Curry, coming off leading Golden State to a historical 73-win season, overtook the King as the face of the NBA and the new, unquestionable No. 1 player in the league?
When James spearheaded an unbelievable, first-of-its-kind comeback after going down 3-1 in the 2016 finals, the King ultimately quieted his doubters – including me. Putting together an immaculate 2016 NBA finals, including back-to-back 40-point outings, LeBron effectively cemented his legacy as one of the best to ever play the game and picked up his third championship ring in dominant fashion.
Now, as the league prepares for another edition of the star-studded matchup, I am reminded of the time when both pundits and fans questioned LeBron’s dominance, both as a player and as the worldwide face of the NBA, and I cannot help but laugh at even my own ignorance at the generational greatness that I’ve seen from the Cleveland star.
Win or lose, James now has pieced together debatably his best season as a 32-year-old, 14-year veteran while sometimes single-handedly powering the Cavs through rough patches of play, and LeBron’s singular dominance of NBA action both on and off the court has established the Akron-native as the unquestionably leader of the association.
LeBron’s postseason numbers show just how ridiculous he’s playing and the immense, seemingly never-ending ceiling that the King can reach. James is currently shooting career-highs in effective field goal percentage (.625) and true shooting percentage (.657), all while playing at nearly his best efficiency (30.4) to lead the Cavs to a 12-1 playoff record, only losing on a last-second game-winner from Celtics guard Avery Bradley.
Taking all this into consideration, LeBron has not only shown little signs of slowing down with age but also has matured into a floor general that can make unbelievable passes with one hand that the average NBA player wouldn’t complete with two. His skill and leadership are unmatched throughout the league, and the King has risen to new heights, even when people contemplated his decline just last year.
Ultimately, I must follow the widely known logic: Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me. If this last calendar year of basketball action has taught me anything, it’s that doubting the King’s greatness will more than likely leave you in the wrong one way or another.
And hey, although ESPN gives the Cavs a seven percent chance of winning the 2017 NBA finals, Cleveland was also given a six percent chance to win the 2016 NBA Finals after falling to a 3-1 deficit, and we all know what happened after that.
Remind Lorenzo that Kobe has the most missed field goals in all of professional basketball’s history at enzor9 ‘at’ stanford.edu.