LeBron James is a four-time champion and four-time Finals MVP. He won two titles with the Miami Heat, one with the Cleveland Cavaliers, and captured his fourth ring last season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
As most basketball fans know, LeBron is 4-6 in the Finals. While he can’t go back in time and change any of his Finals losses, the King believes he could have five championships if it weren’t for Kyrie Irving‘s bad luck.
LeBron James has played in 55 Finals games
In 55 Finals games with the Cavs, Heat, and Lakers, LeBron is averaging 28.4 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.8 assists while shooting 48.4% from the field, 35.2% from beyond the arc, and 73.1% from the free-throw line. He is one of the best Finals performers in NBA history.
LeBron’s four championships have come against the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and Heat. Meanwhile, his six losses have come against the Spurs (2), Dallas Mavericks, and Warriors (3). He’s gotten swept twice, although he was outmatched team-wise both times.
In the 2016 Finals against the Warriors, LeBron led the Cavs to a 3-1 series comeback against Stephen Curry, who was the MVP in 2015-16. Cleveland became the first team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 series deficit in the Finals and took down the 73-9 Warriors.
The Cavs and Warriors met in four straight Finals from 2015 to 2018. The 2017 and 2018 Finals weren’t competitive since Golden State had Kevin Durant next to Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. Besides the 2016 Finals, though, the 2015 Finals were entertaining. The Warriors won in six games, with Andre Iguodala winning Finals MVP. LeBron did all he could to will the Cavs to victory, but he played without Kevin Love the entire series and lost Irving in Game 1 to a serious knee injury.
Had Irving not bumped knees with Thompson and broke his kneecap in the 2015 Finals, LeBron may have five rings. That’s at least what the 2003 No. 1 overall draft pick thinks.
LeBron James still believes Cavs could’ve won 2015 ring with a healthy Kyrie Irving
The Cavs lost Game 1 of the 2015 Finals in overtime by a final score of 108-100. Irving broke his kneecap at the 43:37 mark and was lost for the series. According to Brian Windhorst of ESPN, LeBron and his former Cavs teammates still believe they could’ve won with a healthy Irving, who finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, and six assists before getting hurt.
LeBron guided the Cavs to two wins in the series without Love and Irving. However, his lack of help eventually caught up to him, and the Warriors won the series in six games. It was a tough ending to LBJ’s first season back with the Cavs after four years in Miami, but he and his teammates bounced back in a major way in 2016.
The Cavs defeated the Warriors in the 2016 Finals in seven epic games with both Irving and Love healthy. In Game 7, LeBron had the historic block on Iguodala, Love had a key stop on Curry on defense, and Irving hit the game-winning shot over Steph. It was a magnificent moment for LeBron, who was in tears after delivering a championship to his hometown team. He famously yelled, “Cleveland, this is for you!” after the final buzzer sounded.
While it’s impossible to predict how the 2015 Finals would have gone had Irving not gotten hurt, it’s fair to say the Cavs’ chances of winning would have risen since Uncle Drew is one of the best scorers and playmakers in the league and was a perfect sidekick to LeBron. They didn’t have the best relationship in Cleveland, but James and Irving did reach three straight Finals together.
Lakers star shows compassion toward Nets guard
Irving sprained his right ankle in Game 4 of the Brooklyn Nets‘ series versus the Milwaukee Bucks. LeBron took to social media to share his frustration with the injury and prayed for a quick recovery.
Ever since Irving requested a trade from the Cavs in 2017, he’s been taking subtle shots at LeBron. The biggest one came before the 2020-21 season when the Nets guard said Durant was his first teammate who he could trust to hit clutch shots. LeBron acknowledged he was “hurt” by Irving’s comments, but that won’t stop him from taking the high road and showing his former teammate support during an injury scare.
For the first time in his career, LeBron lost in the first round of the playoffs. He will certainly use the summer to rest and gear up for a revenge-type season in 2021-22 and strive to win championship No. 5.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference.