what-nba-title-would-mean-for-lebron-james’-legacy

LeBron James is the most successful closer in NBA history, and he and the Lakers can close out the Heat on Friday night in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. The Lakers star claims he doesn’t obsess over his legacy, but rest assured the rest of the sports world will.

There will be rankings and hot takes, comparisons to Michael Jordan and arguments about the GOAT. They’re inevitable, whether James and company eventually clinch the Lakers’ 17th title or suffer one of the worst collapses in history.

“This is the coolest franchise in the whole NBA,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “There’s nothing like the L.A. Lakers. It’s been an honor to be a part of it. I hope to add to its history with one more win.”

Vogel was wearing a Lakers gold shirt that read “Leave A Legacy,” which is exactly what James is doing. While NBA icon Isiah Thomas called James the best player he ever has seen, the Lakers star isn’t caught up in that.

“The story will be told how it’s supposed to be told, and be written how it’s supposed to be written,” James said. “But I don’t live my life thinking about legacy. What I do off the floor is what means more to me than what I do on the floor.”

LeBron James
LeBron JamesAP

Just this week, James has been featured on a Wheaties box for the first time, along with students from his I PROMISE School.

“Seeing my kids on a Wheaties box was one of the best moments of my life,” James said. “Seeing my mom unveil the box back in my hometown of Akron, Ohio, was some of the best news, videos and pictures that I could ever get. The game of basketball will pass me by … so I can’t worry about that as far as on the floor. How I move, how I walk, what I preach, what I talk about, how I inspire the next generation is what matters to me the most.”

That legacy James is trying to leave isn’t just about scoring buckets, but also about impacting his franchise and his community.

The late Kobe Bryant’s fingerprints are still all over the Lakers, and they’re 4-0 wearing their Black Mamba uniforms, which they will don Friday.

“To close it out in his honor is something we look forward to — an insane amount of pressure for sure, but we don’t want to lose, we don’t want to let him down,” Anthony Davis said.

“We want to remain undefeated [in the jerseys]. But if we come in and do the things we’re supposed to do on both ends of the floor, then we can remain undefeated and close this thing out and make this moment even more special.”

James is 38-10 in closeout games, the best percentage in NBA history. He has won 17 of the last 28, bad news for Miami. More bad news: point guard Goran Dragic is still doubtful for the Heat with torn plantar fascia in his left foot.

“They’re writing us off, everybody’s doubting us,” Miami’s Bam Adebayo said, “but as long as the people in the locker room and our coaching staff have belief in us, that’s all that matters.”

“We don’t give a [expletive] what everybody else thinks. This is everything we wanted this year, an opportunity to fight for, compete for a title,” coach Erik Spoelstra said. “We’re here for a purpose; we’re trying to compete for a title. That hasn’t changed. And our players, our guys are the ones in this arena, marred by sweat, tears, blood. And that’s right where they’re meant to be.”

Winning that title will require taking three straight — and probably another superhuman effort from Jimmy Butler.

“I don’t think it’s pressure: I think it’s just win,” Butler said. “Ain’t nobody thinking about going home over here. … It’s not win or go home: It’s win or win.

“We have no choice. We can’t lose. We’ve got to win three straight.”