October 12, 2020, 1:47 am
To think we started this journey of the 2019-2020 season almost an entire year ago. It finally concluded tonight with the Los Angeles Lakers being crowned the NBA Champions. In what will go down as the most trying and exhausting year of all of our lives — players, coaches, fans, and the populace in general — it is a fitting end for basketball to see its most storied franchise and its greatest player stand tallest one more time.
Finals Player of the Night
LeBron James, SF, Los Angeles Lakers – 41 minutes, 28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists, one steal, one 3-pointer, 13-of-20 FG, 1-of-4 FT.
Let’s just call this what it is. LeBron James is the greatest of all time. I have no problem with giving him that distinction. If you want to still say it’s Michael, I won’t argue with you either. Jordan was a living legend, a brand unto his own and has the Bulls dynasty of six titles to back it all up.
But to me, what LeBron James has done both on and off the court cements his GOAT status. If someone still wants to argue Michael’s six to LeBron’s four, that’s their hang-up. LeBron James, playing with the world’s eyes on him, not just for what he does on a basketball court, but what he will say in the name of civil rights and social justice in this country, was the only player who could carry all that weight and still outlast everyone.
Perhaps he doesn’t think that way. Maybe he does and he’s just better at compartmentalizing it than anyone else on Earth. His year of having to carry Kobe Bryant’s Laker legacy, having to be the voice of the league at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement, and having to do all this while playing basketball in a makeshift bubble away from friends, family and normalcy just makes this one the most impressive on his resume.
As a Nets fan, I clearly did not have a dog in this Finals fight. But as a basketball and sports fan in general, when it comes time to determine championships, I root for greatness. I want to witness history in the making. I want to see someone who had all the promise in the world heaped on them at such a young age and then fulfill it beyond our wildest imaginations.
Thank you King James. Thank you GOAT for giving us the right ending for a basketball story that desperately needed it.
The Finals Goat of the Night
While we have a GOAT, we normally see an actual goat in games like this, but I refuse to hand one out, even in a very lopsided defeat for the Miami Heat.
From the top all the way down in the Miami Heat organization, everyone deserves a ton of credit and kudos for making it as far as they did. Pat Riley has the oversight of a premier franchise built on tenacity, defense and a manic commitment to winning. Erik Spoelstra, even in defeat, gets his dues for being one of the best, if not the best coach in the league for taking a Heat team far further than anyone had expected and reminding folks that his title runs with James, D-Wade, and Bosh were no fluke.
And of course Jimmy Freaking Buckets. Butler did everything short of ripping his heart out of his body to try and prevent the Lakers from being a team of destiny and became a hero in the process. Butler proved he’s not just a guy who will outwork other players. He proved that he belongs in a title chase and to have his name mentioned among the greats who play this game.
With no games left there are no injuries to report. Credit to Goran Dragic for gutting out his foot injury to try to give the Heat just a little more spark to pull off an upset. It just wasn’t meant to be for The Dragon.
It bears repeating but it was a remarkable feat by the NBA and all of the Disney staff that contributed to the Orlando Bubble that it was able to host a resumption and playoffs without a single positive case of COVID-19. As much as we fans would love to be right there watching these players and teams, to have basketball the way we did took the work of so many to keep everyone safe during this pandemic. I was extremely skeptical of it all working, but it did and I am grateful to all involved.
Some final thoughts to close out this wild season.
– Call me crazy but I’m happy for Dwight Howard. Just set the person aside for a minute and realize that this guy has had a Hall-of-Fame career and he finally got the title that evaded him for so many years. Add back in the person and realize that yes, he was damn near exiled from the NBA, but all the nonsense that comes with the Dwight Howard persona was cast to the side in order to fit in with the Lakers to win the title. People will choose to see Dwight however they want, but at least he’ll have gone out on top if this is the end of the road for him.
– We also need to think long and hard about where to count Rajon Rondo among the greats and his Hall-of-Fame candidacy should be quite the discussion now that he’s won his second title. You could argue that the Lakers don’t win without Playoff Rondo and his ability to be a vocal leader on the floor and all his teammates to do all of the scoring.
– I would imagine the Heat will try to go big game hunting this offseason to try and bag another weapon alongside Butler and Adebayo. They have another season or two before the checks will start to come due for guys like Bam, Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. Now may be the window for Butler and the Heat and they look like they’ll be here to stay.
– I think the Finals helped Herro, Robinson, and Jae Crowder most in fantasy drafts next season. It’s certainly possible that Herro could be a star in the making and we know he is unafraid to let it fly. Robinson cemented himself as one of the best shooters in the league and he got better as the season wore on. As we’ve always said, if you can shoot the 3 at elite levels, we’ll always find spots for you on our teams. Crowder might give people pause, but he fit in perfectly with the Heat and started shooting the ball much better once he was traded to South Beach. If he’s back again, he’ll have carved out that ‘tough guy’ role as someone who can bang, get boards and chip in some cash counters.
– I for one am ready to get fantasy rolling again. I love the postseason but I need a full league again and get back to thinking about drafts after our season was cut short back in March. I certainly hope you all are as well.