LeBron James may be the best player on the planet, but very few people are backing him to lead the Cavaliers to a second consecutive NBA title. The Cavs are huge underdogs in Vegas - but according to Skip Bayless, that may work in James' favor.
On Wednesday's episode of Undisputed, Bayless and Shannon Sharpe explained why James is under zero pressure in these Finals.
All the pressure is on the Warriors in these Finals
“There is zero pressure on LeBron. Pressure is what the unprepared feels.
LeBron is a process guy and he’s mentioned it several times. He loves the process. He knows what it takes in order to accomplish this feat. He’s a guy that trains hard, he prepares mentally, he eats the right things, he gets the proper amount of rest.
And so going into his game, all the pressure is on the Warriors. They were the 73-9 team. They were up 3-1. They lost. They added the second-best player in the NBA. They were the best team start to finish.”
Bob DonnanBob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron knows what it takes
“98 percent of the prognostication says that the Golden State Warriors are going to win.
All the betting money is on the Golden State Warriors.
There’s no pressure on LeBron. LeBron knows what it takes, he’s prepared. You don’t get to this point… and not be mentally tough, and not be focused, and not be ready to accept the challenge at hand.”
Brian SpurlockBrian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports
Win or lose, LeBron is still on Mount Rushmore
“There’s no pressure on LeBron James, because you know what, Skip? Whether he’s 4-4 or 3-5, he’s still a Mount Rushmore player. You know that and I know that.”
Skip Bayless: “So he’s lost four Finals. He’s never felt an ounce of pressure in the four Finals he has lost out of the seven he has played?”
Shannon Sharpe: “Maybe the first one, because he had never been there before. He didn’t know what that stage was like.
… When you take that stage, all eyes [are on you], there’s no other basketball going on. There’s not the Western Conference playing their semis or finals. It’s you versus them. So maybe he was a little nervous in that first one, but after that, I do not believe LeBron James felt any pressure.
And especially now, after 4 MVPs and three Finals MVPs, taking down a 73-9 team after being down 1-3. There is no pressure on LeBron James.”
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
No one is picking Cleveland to win
“I’m just going to go from public perception. And I agree with your point for every reason you didn’t [mention]. There is next to no pressure on LeBron James because, last year, he pulled it off. He brought a championship to ‘The Land.’ He went home and he won a championship. That’s pretty great, right? Pressure off.
So then Kevin Durant left Oklahoma City and joined up with the Warriors and made what most people think is a virtually unbeatable superteam. So pressure’s off LeBron James, right?
Oddsmakers now say that LeBron’s team is a heavy underdog in these Finals. They have a ‘Mount Rushmore’ player, but they are a heavy underdog. All the predictions I’ve seen from analysts I respect, they’re all ‘Warriors in 5,’ maybe ‘Warriors in 6.’”
David RichardDavid Richard-USA TODAY Sports
LeBron James is in a perfect situation
“That’s pressure way off LeBron, who by the way is playing in his eighth NBA Finals, so he will be more than twice the most experienced player on the floor.
He is still ranked by all the analysts I see as the best player on the floor… and he should be! I have no issue with that.
So he’s by far the most experienced, he’s still the best player, but nobody’s giving him a chance. It’s like… what more could you ask for. It’s the most beautiful spot for LeBron James he could ever pray for.”
Greg M. CooperGreg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Kevin Durant, Steph Curry and Draymond Green will be under immense pressure
“The pressure in this Finals will be hyper-focused on, number one, Kevin Durant - because he left Russell Westbrook and he’s chasing a ring. I think even more pressure will be hyper-focused on a Steph Curry who has not lived up to either of his regular-season MVPs in the last two Finals. Especially last year, when he had only 26 assists to 30 turnovers over the seven games.
… And then I still think there’s a whole lot of pressure on Draymond, because I think he let his team down and owes his team for getting himself suspended in Game 4 and missing Game 5. Which was the turning point of that series.”