NBA Finals: LeBron James Cementing All-Time Great Status

Regardless of whether the Cleveland Cavaliers win or lose the NBA Finals, LeBron James is putting together a playoff run for the ages that should cement his standing as one of the best players in NBA history.

While plenty of people use championship rings as the measure of success or failure in a player’s career, the numbers James is putting up this year are a greater indication of his outstanding play and overall impact than how the series ultimately ends up.

ESPN’s Tom Haberstroh pointed to how impressive James’ run has been on Twitter Sunday night following the Cavaliers’ overtime win to even the series at 1-1:

As discussed here a couple weeks ago, James is always going to find himself compared to Michael Jordan, who went 6-0 in the NBA Finals. As of right now, James has won two championships in five appearances and there will be those that tether his place in the pantheon of all-time greats to his Finals record, trying to take him down a few places because he wasn’t able to single-handedly lead a pair of beleagured Cavaliers teams to titles.

True story: in-his-prime Michael Jordan wasn’t going to lead the 2006-07 Cavs to an Finals win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Another true story: in-his-prime MJ would have struggled against the Utah Jazz if he were playing without Scottie Pippen and Toni Kukoc.

That’s pretty much what LeBron is doing right now carrying a Cleveland team that lost Kevin Love early in the playoffs and will be without Kyrie Irving for the remainder of the series after the All-Star point guard was diagnosed with a broken kneecap following last week’s Game One overtime loss.

Even though his efficiency is way down from previous years, LeBron is putting together an historical run this year, averaging 29-10-8 plus a block and a steal while being the lone significant offensive threat throughout the Eastern Conference Finals and Game 2 of the Finals.

Timofey Mozgov has been the most consistent secondary offensive contributor for the Cavs through the first two games of the Finals. Timofey Mozgov. They’re counting on J.R. Smith to temper his J.R. Smith tendancies and be effective on a nightly basis and yet they’re still heading back to the Quicken Loans Arena with the series tied.

If that doesn’t make James’ impact stand out and cement his standing as an all-time great regardless of how this series ends up nothing will.

Everyone expected Cleveland to get ran out of the building on Sunday night and crushed the rest of the way in this series with Irving going down. Instead, they picked up a hard-fought victory in Oakland on the strength of James’ man-sized 39-16-11 triple-double and some quality contributions from Mozgov and Matthew Dellavedova.

Golden State is probably going to find a rhythm. Steph Curry isn’t going to go 5-23 ever again; not in this series and maybe not ever. The Warriors will still probably pull out the series.

But after Game 1, few expected this series to be even heading to Cleveland. James is the only reason it is. He’s one of the all-time greats, regardless of how this series ends up.

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