Skyler Griffith ’21
Any enthusiastic NBA fan has their own opinion on who the league’s G.O.A.T. – or ‘Greatest of All Time’ – is. The two most common responses to the G.O.A.T. question are Michael Jordan and LeBron James.
However, the amount of support for either NBA legend being the G.O.A.T. is nearly equal; there is no prominent winner in this debate. Although this unanswered question (which is arguably the league’s greatest mystery) may never have a clear answer, LeBron certainly presented a strong case for himself in this year’s NBA playoffs.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA suspended its regular season on March 11, 2020. Luckily, the league created an isolation zone at the Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida. This NBA “bubble” received great success, as the remainder of the regular season and the entire playoffs were conducted without a single positive case of COVID-19.
LeBron, a four-time NBA MVP and 16-time NBA All-Star, guided the Los Angeles Lakers all the way to the 2020 NBA Finals alongside seven-time NBA All-Star Anthony Davis. On their way to the Finals, the Lakers nearly swept the red-hot Portland Trailblazers (4-1), the stacked Houston Rockets (4-1), and the upstart Denver Nuggets (4-1) respectively.
The Lakers also put on a show during the regular season. They finished 52-19, first in the Western Conference.
When they got to the Finals, the Lakers faced off against the Miami Heat. The Heat were led by five-time All-Star Jimmy Butler. Although Butler put on an enormously impressive individual Finals performance, averaging 26.2 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 9.8 assists per game, it was tough for him to keep up with LeBron, Davis, and the Lakers.
Butler was surrounded by mostly young and inexperienced teammates who, despite showing potential, could not give him the assistance from a veteran sidekick he needed.
Throughout the Finals, LeBron averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists per game. Davis complemented LeBron’s powerful Finals performance, averaging 25.0 points and 10.7 rebounds.
The Lakers quickly climbed ahead in the series, winning the first two games. The Heat next secured their first win in game three, a game in which Butler scored 40 points. The Lakers answered back in game four, going up 3-1 in the series.
Although the Lakers were only one win away from winning the title, the Heat kept their hopes alive in game five, tightening the series to 3-2. But the Lakers clinched their 2020 championship in game six, closing out the series 4-2. LeBron had won his fourth NBA championship, as well as his fourth NBA Finals MVP Award.
Although LeBron has not quite caught up to Michael Jordan’s six NBA championships and six Finals MVPs (an NBA record), he is in amazing shape for a 35-year-old about to begin his 18th NBA season. He even finished second in league MVP voting this year behind Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo.
LeBron has plenty of gas left in the tank and shows no sign of slowing down. Fans can expect him to continue building his legacy for years to come.
Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images (final game shot), https://www.si.com/extra-mustard/2020/02/07/lebron-james-lakers-rockets-dunk-videophoto (LeBron James dribbling).