LeBron James unsure whether he’d rather lose NBA Finals or miss playoffs entirely

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LeBron James had an all-time great NBA Finals.

But his Cavaliers still lost, dropping him to 2-4 in the Finals.

LeBron compared that heartache to his first two seasons in the NBA, when Cleveland missed the playoffs entirely.

LeBron:

I always look at it, would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in the Finals?

I don’t know. I don’t know.

I’ve missed the playoffs twice. I’ve lost in the Finals four times. I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not make the playoffs than to lose in the Finals. I would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs, not even have a shot at it.

But then I lock back in, and I’ll start thinking about how fun it is to compete in the playoffs – in the first round, in the second round and Eastern Conference finals. And then if I’m lucky enough to get here again, it’d be fun to do it.

But I put my body through a lot. There’s a price for your body feeling this way for winning. Did I win? I didn’t win a championship, but I’ve done a lot of good things in this first year back, and hopefully, I can continue it.

Guys, I think the Warriors broke LeBron.

He tries to summon a little fire late in his answer, but that was preceded by way too much consideration for just missing the playoffs. It’s jarring to hear a competitor like LeBron talk this way.

Sure, missing the postseason might hurt less. But you don’t play to hurt less. You play to win a championship, and that’s possible only by making the playoffs.

I expect LeBron to come out of this funk, though I wouldn’t be surprised if it extends into next season. I can’t remember him seeming so despondent with the possible exception of 2010, when he seemed to leave Cleveland mentally before he did in free agency later in the summer.

This time, he – probably – won’t have the luxury of changing teams to clear his mind.