- LeBron James won his fourth championship and fourth MVP final on Sunday.
- After winning the MVP Final, James said, “I want my bloody respect.”
- James and the Lakers had some doubts this season, but James has proven that even at 35, he is still the most dominant player in the league at the greatest moments.
- You can find more stories on the Insider homepage.
On Sunday, LeBron James added to his already brilliant legacy and won his fourth championship when the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat 106-93.
After scoring 28 points with 14 rebounds and 10 assists in Championship Sealing Game 6, James also won the MVP final, the fourth of his career.
After the game, during the Lakers trophy presentation, James sent a simple message that he and the Lakers are getting back to the top of the sport.
“We just want our respect,” said James. “”[Lakers GM] rob [Pelinka] wants his respect. Trainer [Frank] Vogel wants his respect. Organization wants their respect. Lakers Nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect too. ”
James and the Lakers took a dramatic turnaround from 2018-19 through 2019-20. The Lakers missed the playoffs in James’ first year with the team. James sustained a groin injury that lasted for almost a month. The team was dashed by trade rumors about Anthony Davis, to which James was tied.
They traded much of their young core and some future draft picks for Davis in the off-season, then built a team that lacked talent and solidarity around the two stars in the NBA world.
As James was preparing to turn 35 in December, he had doubts about his ability to play at his usual level.
James has proven that in the greatest moments, there is still no one you would choose over yourself
There are valid arguments as to whether James is the best player in the NBA – in the regular season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard are two-way pivots in playoff teams. James Harden is an insult in itself. Anthony Davis is possibly the Lakers’ most effective player.
But in the postseason, James is still the must-have player when the theoretical chips are down.
James averaged 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists per game during that championship run. In the final, he averaged 30 points, 12 rebounds and 9 assists per game (rounded to the nearest whole number). He will be 36 in just over two months.
There are moments when James’ age shows. He can no longer easily beat the defenders from dribbling. Never the purest shooter in the NBA, there are moments when James’ outside shot gives him away and makes him look a little awkward on the offensive. His energy is dropping a bit – his 36 minutes per game this postseason was the fewest he has averaged in his career. His days of 45 minute nights are over; he just has to get the rest.
But most of the time, James looks like him. Whether on the half-court or in the transition, no one can stop him if he takes a step on a defender. He is a master of the pick and roll manipulator. And this year, a renewed focus on the defensive ending helped the Lakers become the best defensive team in the NBA over the course of the season.
After the game, James spoke to reporters and said he was “turned on” by people who doubted him.
“Personally, I think I have something to prove that drives me,” said James. “It has fueled me for the past year and a half since my injury. It got me fired because no matter what I’ve done in my career up to that point, there is still little doubt or, you know, comparing me to the story of the game and, “Did he do that? Did he do that? ”
“When I have that in my head, that is in my head and tell myself why I don’t have something else to prove, I think that it drives me.”
As Commissioner Adam Silver was preparing to present James the MVP trophy for the finals, he said that one day the trophy would be named after James.
Those who watched these finals gave James his respect: he was the one
Full Finals MVP balloting result ... pic.twitter.com/c27D53cjYY— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) October 12, 2020
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