LeBron James has made it clear that his goal is to surpass Michael Jordan as the greatest player in basketball history.
Sunday night, James took a step closer to doing so.
James was named the 2020 NBA Finals MVP for leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their first championship in a decade and winning the fourth title of his career with a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6. James, who previously won Finals MVP in 2012 and ’13 with the Heat and in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the first player in NBA history to win the award with three different franchises.
Winning his fourth Finals MVP moves him out of a tie with Magic Johnson, Tim Duncan and Shaquille O’Neal and into second all time — trailing only Jordan, who won the award six times.
James capped his 17th season in the league with a virtuoso run through the postseason, shooting well over 50% from the field while also running the Lakers’ offense virtually every possession he was on the court. He also displayed a commitment on the other end of the court, playing a key role in a suffocating defensive unit. Most importantly, James outdueled Jimmy Butler in what was an all-time classic matchup throughout the Finals, including the Lakers’ star going off for 40 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in Game 5, and 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in Game 6.
“This was very challenging, and very difficult,” James said afterward. “It played with your mind, and it played with your body. You’re away from some of the things you’re so accustomed to [that] make you the professional you are.
“This is right up there with one of the greatest accomplishments I have.”
James delivering a 17th overall championship to the Lakers, who last won a title in 2010, came after a disappointing first season in Los Angeles. Following their Christmas Day 2018 win over the Golden State Warriors, the Lakers were 20-14 and in fourth place in the Western Conference. But James suffered the first major injury of his career in that game, a strained groin that kept him out more than a month. By the time he returned, the Lakers had fallen to 10th in the West.
James ended up failing to qualify for the postseason for the first time since 2005.
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