Jerry West is a bit touchy on the subject of NBA Finals record. West was as fiercely competitive as Jordan or Kobe or anyone else you want to name, and he led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine NBA Finals appearances. He won once. Often it was Bill Russell’s Celtics in his path.
Along those lines, West does not get the criticism of LeBron James, who is 2-4 in the NBA Finals, and very well could fall to 2-5 (especially if his Cavaliers don’t win Game 2 Sunday night in Oakland). From Stephan Bondy of the New York Daily News and Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report.
West makes a valid point in this sense: LeBron has pulled seven teams to the NBA Finals, but not all of them probably should have been there. As Sharon Katz pointed out at fivethirtyeight.com, LeBron has had 2.5 more Finals appearances than he should considering the unimpressive supporting casts he has dragged to the NBA’s biggest stage. The only time you can say LeBron’s team “should” have won and didn’t was 2011, the first Heat trip to the Finals against Dirk Nowtizki’s Dallas Mavericks. And Mark Cuban would love to debate you on the “should” part of that, it was a very good Dallas team.
That includes this season. For as much as these Cavaliers are healthier and better than a season ago, they are not the favorite, few predict they can beat the 73-win defending champs.
Yes, Michael Jordan was 6-0 in the Finals. First, Jordan’s legacy doesn’t need you to defend it. He stands just fine on his own.
Secondly, are you discrediting Jordan for not being able to get his inferior Bulls teams past the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons? Detroit did beat Jordan’s Bulls three straight years in the playoffs. LeBron has been able to get inferior teams to the Finals, something Jordan couldn’t do. If you’re saying “that’s a ridiculous argument,” know that’s how your argument about LeBron in the Finals sounds. The “ringz” argument is a silly one, basketball remains a team game. Did you see Game 1 of the NBA Finals? Did Stephen Curry beat LeBron? No, the Warriors depth and defense beat the Cavaliers, but LeBron had a vastly superior game to Curry. But if the Cavaliers lose some of you will pin this on LeBron.
He’s one of the games all-time greats. Accept it. Savor it. Guys like him just do not come around often.