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Ranking LeBron’s previous Finals appearances, Part 2

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This generation’s GOAT saw some character-building in a trio of losses that shaped his career.

NBA Finals Game 4: San Antonio Spurs v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images

On Sunday evening, the Los Angeles Lakers lost Game 3 of the Finals. Seeing how LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and company have played in the first two games, it seems likely that the Lakers will regroup and make a strong argument for a 3-1 series lead by the end of this evening.

Which means we don’t have much time to waste as we continue to countdown the nine previous NBA Finals involving LeBron James. If you missed part 1, get caught up as we move into the middle three.

In the series that ranked four through six, we find LeBron coming into his own in many ways.

#6 2007- Cleveland Cavaliers vs. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs were heading into their third Finals in five years. The Big 3 were already being considered “old” and boring. By contrast, LeBron James was one of the most exciting players in the NBA. He carried a lackluster roster of Cleveland Cavaliers into the 2007 NBA Finals for his first trip.

Unfortunately, he came up short. The Cavaliers got swept in what could be argued was not even Tim Duncan’s best Finals appearance. In fact, Tony Parker walked out with the MVP award for the series.

There was one great off court moment when a visibly stunned LeBron got some encouragement from Tim Duncan.

LeBron finished the series with 22.0 PPG, 7.0 RPG, and 6.8 APG. Not his worst Finals stat line, but his abysmal 20% from downtown married with the sweep makes this one of LeBron’s lesser achievements.

#5 2017- Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

LeBron and the Cavs ties up the rivalry at one series apiece in 2016 and the Warriors responded by begging Kevin Durant to come to Golden State immediately after that record-breaking loss (it’s obviously high on the list).

His postgame press conference says it all- he left it all on the court, he played one of his best series, and the Warriors just had the manpower that could not be beat. The Cavs took one game, but the series went to an All-Star caliber team.

#4 2015- Cleveland Cavalier vs. Golden State Warriors

This series proved LeBron’s mettle and truly can be argued that James, even after losing, deserved to raise the Finals MVP award. No player since Jerry West has ever pulled that feat, and LeBron surely deserved it.

LeBron had left South Beach in search of a new super team. He essentially ordered the trade of Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett to get Kevin Love to round out his new Big 3 with Kyrie Irving.

Love suffered a left shoulder injury that took him out of the postseason during the first round against the Boston Celtics. Kyrie Irving also suffered a heart-breaking injury in Game 1 which nullified the Cavaliers championship run.

But LeBron was not going out without a fight. With stats 35.8 PPG, 13.3 RPG, and 8.8 APG with 39.8% shooting percentage, he outplayed everyone on both squads.

The Cavaliers may have lost, but LeBron came out ahead and deserved the MVP. He made regular season MVP Stephen Curry look ineffective. James’ trophy ended up in the hands of back-up small forward Andre Iguodala.

Ironically, it was this series that most mirrors the 2020 series except this time, LeBron is on the team stacked with All-Star players and the Miami Heat have lost two of their biggest starters in Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic.

Jimmy Butler is attempting to summon his inner 2015 LeBron in hopes of keeping the Heat’s postseason alive despite insurmountable odds.

Will Butler be able to rally the tying game tonight, or will LeBron and the Lakers put Miami’s backs against the wall?


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