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Ranking LeBron James’ Finals appearances, Part 3

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LeBron and Cavs win one for “The Land.”

Cleveland Cavaliers’ LeBron James (23) holds the Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy and the MVP trophy after the Cavaliers beat the Golden State Warriors in Game 7 93-89 to win the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif., on Sunday, June 19, 2016. (N Photo by MediaNews Group/Bay Area News via Getty Images

It could all be over tonight. LeBron James may win his fourth NBA Championship. It remains to be seen if he will, in fact, also take the Bill Russell Finals MVP trophy. There is a chance Anthony Davis may swoop in and claim it while enjoying his first postseason celebration.

Either way, a Laker win will further solidify LeBron’s greatness as he adapts his game and evolves in his mid-30s.

We’ve been ranking LeBron’s previous Finals trips. Where will this tenth excursion land him. That may well be a discussion as early as tomorrow.

#3 2013- Miami Heat vs. San Antonio Spurs

As far as comebacks go, this will rank higher for many LeBron fans. But keeping in mind that the Spurs were seconds from defeating the Heat, this was more of a crapshoot than a solid win.

#2 2012- Miami Heat vs. Oklahoma City Thunder

As far as young, exciting teams go, this looked to be the matchup all basketball fans could sink their teeth into. Oklahoma City boasted Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden, and Serge Ibaka, a quartet that showed promise of dominance upon which they were never able to capitalize. But the pure dominance of LeBron James 28.6 PPG, 10.2 RPG, 7.4 APG, and a 47.8% alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh took four straight games (the first three by four to six points) before steamrolling Game 5 to earn LeBron’s first ring.

What should have been a more exciting (and seven game) series became the defining moment of “The Decision,” solidifying the move to South Beach and threatening to take over the NBA.

#1 2016- Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors

No team has ever come back from being 3-1 down in the NBA Finals. Let’s say that again- no team has ever come back from being 3-1 down in the NBA Finals . . . until the LeBron James Cavaliers.

After the heartbreaking loss in 2015 where James and the Cavaliers were missing the ball-handling of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love’s rebounding and post-play, the 2016 Finals was a rematch.

And LeBron James came to play.

There was more drama, more anxiety, and more anticipation on the court than the previous year.

Despite James being the best player of the 2015 series (and arguably the deserved MVP of the Finals), he did need a full, healthy team.

On the other side, the Golden State Warriors worked harder than necessary to end the season with a 73-9 record, the best in NBA history. The icing on the cake was landing back-to-back titles. But the Warriors faced elimination in three consecutive games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and came back to win a series where they were down 3-1.

It could be assumed the Warriors would not take that for granted.

But LeBron James did not take it for granted that being down 3-1 meant he would end the season empty handed.

A healthy 29.7 PPG, 11.3 RPG, 8.9 APG, and 49.4% with an added 37.1% from beyond the arc led the Cavaliers to three consecutive wins (check out the license plate) and their first NBA Championship. The first title in any major sport for Cleveland in fifty-two years.

You could blame Draymond Green for missing a game due to technical fouls accumulation. You could blame Steve Kerr for working his players so hard en route to their historic winning season. You could blame OKC for tiring out the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals.

Or you can just give credit to LeBron James.


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