We all know that LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players to ever live. James is a 16-time All-Star, a four-time MVP, and he has won three NBA championships. However, could he have possibly won one more championship? James’ emotions once potentially cost him a better shot at winning another title with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James and the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors in the 2018 NBA Finals
From 2015 through 2018, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors had a really heated rivalry. After the Warriors beat a Cavaliers team without Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving in the 2015 NBA Finals, LeBron James and the Cavaliers beat a 73-win Warriors team in the 2016 Finals.
Then, one of the best players on the planet, Kevin Durant, joined the Warriors in the summer of 2016. This led to the Warriors defeating the Cavaliers in five games in the 2017 NBA Finals.
Irving was then no longer on the Cavaliers during the 2017-18 season, but the Cavs still made the Finals in 2018. Not having Irving made the Warriors very heavy favorites, though.
However, in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, the Cavaliers looked as if they actually had a chance. In the fourth quarter of that game, the Cavaliers only trailed 107-106 with a few seconds left. Cavaliers guard George Hill then made a free throw to tie it 107-107. He then missed the second free throw, but fellow Cavs guard J.R. Smith pulled down the rebound. Unfortunately, though, it looked as if Smith thought that the Cavaliers had the lead as he did not try and set up a game-winning shot opportunity for the team.
The game then went into overtime, and the Cavaliers lost to the Warriors 124-114. The Warriors then won the series 4-0.
I know LeBron James and the Cavaliers did not even win a game in that series. However, something that happened after the game cost them, at least, a better chance at competing with the Warriors for the title.
James injured his hand punching a whiteboard
After the Cleveland Cavaliers officially lost the 2018 NBA Finals, Sam Amick reported that James had been playing with a serious bone contusion in his right hand since Game 2. The injury was a result of James punching a whiteboard after the Game 1 overtime loss, according to Amick.
“I let the emotions get the best of me and pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand,” James said after Game 4.
James being frustrated after the Game 1 loss is certainly understandable. However, did it cost him a championship?
The injury cost him a better shot at winning the ring
In the Game 1 loss to the Warriors, LeBron James played out of his mind. He scored 51 points to go with eight rebounds and eight assists. He still played well in Games 2, 3, and 4, but not nearly as well as he played that night.
In Game 2, James scored 29 points to go with 13 assists and nine rebounds. In Game 3, James had 33 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds, and in Game 4, he had 23 points, seven rebounds, and eight assists. OK, yeah, so those are still incredible numbers. However, how would he have played without an injured hand? His numbers could have been even more outrageous.
Listen, the Warriors probably would have still won the 2018 NBA Finals, even if James had been completely healthy. They were just a better team.
However, had James been healthy and had he not been limited in the slightest, he and the Cavaliers could have certainly had a better chance of winning at least a couple of games in that series. Winning a game or two then would have put winning the title more in the realm of possibility for James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. We will never know what a healthy LeBron James could have done in that series, though.
Stats courtesy of Basketball Reference