LeBron James would already be tied with Michael Jordan if Anthony Davis came along a bit sooner.
“Not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six … “
It seems like a lifetime ago, LeBron James sat on that stage — Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh flanking him — and proclaimed how many championships he and the newly formed “Big Three” trio were going to win.
For years those words haunted him.
Not one. Not two. Not three. Not four. Not five. But six Finals losses later, LeBron James found himself on the wrong side of what he initially set out to do with the Miami Heat.
What’s so special about the number six?
Why should you care that James has lost six times in the Finals?
It’s because the number six is meaningful. It’s the standard. Six up. Six down. Michael Jordan’s perfect 6-0 record in the Finals and his six Finals MVPs is what makes the number “6” so iconic.
Did I mention he never played a Game 7 in the Finals, and he had two separate three-peats?
But who’s counting?
After winning his fourth NBA championship and fourth Finals MVP award, LeBron provided a much-needed boost to his Finals record. Even still, his 4-6 record in the Finals leaves him two titles short of tying the man he grew up idolizing: Michael Jordan.
Even without the six rings, James can boast that he accomplished something MJ didn’t. He is the only player in NBA history to win the Finals MVP award with three different teams.
Why is this significant?
It’s significant because he knows that he has some work to do if he wants to lap Jordan in the GOAT debate.
In my wildest dreams, I never thought I’d see LeBron James play in a Lakers uniform. He carried the Eastern Conference for more than a decade, and they told me he would never be as successful in the much tougher Western Conference.
Many skeptics had their qualms. They questioned his motives and the situation he was walking into.
“Was he chasing Michael Jordan or Michael B. Jordan?”
“Would he be able to get another superstar to play alongside him?”
“Did his championship window close?”
These were all legitimate questions with no definitive answers at the time.
Year one of the LeBron in LA experiment didn’t have a Hollywood ending. Magic Johnson resigned as President of basketball operations with the team. James suffered the first significant injury of his career, sidelining him for 17 games, and in games that he played, the team had a record of 28-27, and they missed the playoffs.
It was clear that LeBron James needed help if he wanted to elevate the Lakers back to prominence.
Enter Anthony Davis, the best two-way player in the NBA.
Once the Lakers acquired Anthony Davis via trade with the New Orleans Pelicans, it gave them a legitimate chance to reclaim their rightful place atop the NBA mountain.
We know James is the most valuable player on the Lakers. He’s also the most valuable player in the league. It’s why I campaigned publicly and privately for him to win the regular-season MVP award and the Finals MVP award.
But Davis is their most valuable acquisition.
James is well aware that the remainder of his tenure with the Lakers is his “Last Dance.”
Unlike when he played with Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, he has a player in Davis who is still in his physical prime and is a force both offensively and defensively. Having Davis as his running mate makes life a lot easier for him on the court and drastically increases his chances to enhance his legacy.
The scariest part is that the Lakers just won a championship with what I believe will be the worst supporting cast the dynamic duo will play with moving forward. They will enter next season as the favorites to win the title, as they should.
If history is any indicator of what’s to come, we can expect to see the Lakers competing for more titles in the foreseeable future. When the Lakers win, they usually do so in bunches. The Showtime Lakers won five titles in the ’80s. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal won three championships in the early ’00s.
Davis will help James win six rings — giving the Lakers another three-peat — and lifting the franchise past the Boston Celtics for the most championships in NBA history.
You are looking at the best duo the NBA has seen since Shaq and Kobe.
I said what I said.
The NBA is in trouble, and so is Jordan’s status as the GOAT.