LeBron can reclaim his status as the NBA’s best player in the Finals
The NBA is a superstar league. If you have one (or two, or three), you are a perennial title contender. Yet it’s a rare occurrence for the top two players in the game to square off in the NBA Finals.
The reasons why not are plentiful, but they don’t stop you from wondering "What if?"
The last time it happened was perhaps in 2012, but it was more likely in 2001, or maybe it was 1998.
Ultimately, we never got LeBron James vs. Kobe Bryant, so that should make it all the more tremendous that we’re getting LeBron vs. Stephen Curry for a second straight NBA Finals.
For LeBron, it’s a particularly unique opportunity, as it provides him a clear-cut chance to reclaim his title as the NBA’s best player.
The Cleveland forward has been a superstar since he was 16 years old, and every season since he’s was 21, he’s played in double-digit playoff games, winning two titles with Miami and going to six straight NBA Finals.
LeBron is perhaps the most physically talented player in the history of the NBA, and if he were to retire tomorrow, he’d go down as one of the greatest to ever play the game.
You can argue that LeBron — the all-time great, perhaps even the greatest — is at the height of his powers in this, his age-31 season. But even so, he’s not hands-down the best player in the NBA today.
Not when Curry is playing like this. The Golden State guard put up arguably the greatest offensive season in NBA history in the Warriors’ record setting 73-win campaign this year, becoming the first player to win the MVP Award unanimously.
It became a constant conversation around the NBA this season — who’s the best player in the game: LeBron or Steph?
It was hard for anyone to make the case against Curry after the year he had — LeBron tried but ended up contradicting himself — but the man dubbed King James has a chance to reclaim his throne in the upcoming NBA Finals.
Curry plays on a historically great team with an exceptional cast of teammates. He remains exceptional himself, but he invariably has more help than LeBron, even with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love healthy for the Cavs this season. (Citing Love highlights that point.)
The Warriors are a better team, so if the Cavs are going to win Cleveland’s first major professional sport championship in 52 years, LeBron will need to play exceptional basketball.
That means he’s going to have to be a significantly better player than Curry for at least four of seven possible games.
LeBron came up just short of that mark last year, despite his herculean, beyond-impressive effort.
If he can pull off the feat in 2016, who could claim that he’s not the best?