I despise Lebron James. My father despises Lebron James. A lot of fucking people despise Lebron James. A lot of that hate stems from his constant comparisons to the all time greats, and often that argument starts with Bron’s record in the NBA Finals… A record that is lacking compared to legends of NBA days past.
But the point everyone is missing is exactly how many of those finals appearances Lebron has faced a superior team: Check this out…
In 2007 Bron took what is universally known as the worst Finals caliber roster to face the machine-like San Antonio Spurs. Coach Popovich had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili clicking in their peak primes; Lebron has fucking Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes and Eric Snow as his sidekicks…
In 2011, Lebron’s Miami Dream Team easily held an edge over the Dallas Mavericks in terms of talent… But, clearly the voodoo magic of Rick Carlisle trumped the early chemistry issues of the Heat’s 4 year reign. Still, Lebron’s squad clearly was the superior team. (side note:The clip below was one of the greatest moments of NBA fandom life)
In 2012, Lebron faced the Oklahoma City Thunder whom the Heat summarily mollywhopped in 5 games. In terms of talent, the sides were pretty even. But in terms of superiority, the Heat in hindsight were far and away top dawgs.
In 2013, it could be argued that Lebron’s Heat had more talent than the San Antonio Spurs that season. But let’s be real, the Spurs were clicking on all cylinders heading into the matchup. Timmy Duncan was still “Mr. Fundamental” back then, TP was slashing and his float game was filthy and Manu was still the wily wild card. The Spurs were a well oiled machine that was unstoppable if not for some preposterous last second heroics from Ray Allen…
And that premise was confirmed in 2014 when the Spurs ran roughshod over Bron and the Heat. Despite a “Big 3,” (that term fucking irks me) Lebron’s unit was inferior to the three bombing parade Gregg Popovich was trotting out on the court. They simply couldn’t stay in front of Patty Mills, Kawhi, TP, Manu, Marco Belinelli and Danny Green on the three point line. They were the Warriors before Steve Kerr ever got his maniacal fingers on Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.
And now these past 2 years, Lebron’s Cavs are so clearly inferior to the Dubs it’s almost comical. Yes, the Cavs pushed the series to 6 games last season, but let’s do some real talk… When Coach Kerr realized the pick and roll defense Coach Figure Head David Blatt was employing (by way of coach Lebron James of course), the series was game over like every time my third grade self got to the Magic Hand level in Super Smash Bros. Likewise this season. It takes Klay and Steph having the worst games of their careers for the Cavs to squeak out wins.
So to recap, Lebron really hasn’t had superior squads in the finals. I’m all for piling on the Lebron hate train, but we need to call a spade a spade. He can’t be expected to elevate inferior talent on the sport’s largest stage every single time. You could make a strong argument that out of Bron’s 7 Finals appearances he’s only lead a superior team in 2 of those matchups (2011 and 2012). But, we can blame him for attempting to play general manager and fucking up the roster every. single. season.
The hate hard movement lives on… VIVA!