LeBron James is headed to his eighth straight NBA Finals — somehow, incredibly, dragging the Cleveland Cavaliers to a Game 7 win over the Boston Celtics on Sunday. We knew James would have to do it all, like he has all playoffs and especially in this game without Kevin Love, who was ruled out with a concussion. The 87-79 win was inspired by the bogged down defensive slugfests of the mid-2000s, but a win is a win. Who cares about aesthetics when the result sends you to the NBA Finals?
James is the first player in league history to go to eight straight finals since Bill Russell — four with the Miami Heat, and now four more with the Cavaliers. This Cleveland team this season, especially, was all him. Look at their roster, and you have to acknowledge that they have less talent than any of the previous seven iterations that James took to the Finals.
It didn’t matter. Boston hadn’t lost at home all postseason, and James came into TD Garden and won. In Game 7, he rattled off the following line: 35 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists, and two blocks. He played 48 minutes, literally not leaving the floor until there were just a few ticks left on the game clock.
Cleveland struggled to keep up with James to start, missing a number of great open jumpers off perfect James setups. They mustered 19 points from Jeff Green, somehow, and 28 from the other three starters. The bench only had five points, but neither team even hit the 90s.
We’re not gonna bog down this post with James debates, about who the best player is and all that jazz. Just appreciate him for who he is, and figure all that out later. This is the best player of our generation, someone who literally refuses to not play into June. Missing his team’s second-best player (traded last offseason) and then his team’s next second-best player (Love), James still did it anyway.
Could you imagine an NBA Finals without James at this point? It would feel naked, like you we were missing something crucial and important and, well, necessary. I barely remember the last NBA Finals that didn’t involve James. The Lakers won, or something. Whatever. It didn’t have the best player in the world, so did it even count?
James is back in the NBA Finals, as if he could be anywhere else in June.
What a player. What a career.