LeBron James is an NBA champion once again.
The future Hall of Famer has now won four titles with three different franchises, and he finds himself two rings behind Michael Jordan’s six in the race for the GOAT label. James is now one ring behind Kobe Bryant, who the Lakers dedicated this title to, but he’s also one behind a lesser-known LA player from the 1980s.
Michael Cooper only averaged 8.9 points per game over his NBA career, but he still has more championships than James himself.
LeBron James wins his fourth NBA title
In one of the most peculiar NBA seasons in recent memory, LeBron James’ greatness remained the only constant. James reached the NBA Finals for the ninth time in the last 10 seasons, and he emerged from the Orlando bubble with his fourth championship ring.
Unsurprisingly, James was named the Finals MVP for his performance in the series. He capped off the season with 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists in a vintage close-out game.
Over the course of the series, James averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 8.5 assists, all while shooting 59.1% from the field. But it wasn’t just the on-court stats that led the Lakers to their 17th NBA title. James’ leadership throughout the playoffs was instrumental to the team’s success as someone who’s been there many times before.
James is now one championship behind Kobe Bryant and two behind Michael Jordan
When it’s all said and done, most critics will judge NBA legends on the number of rings on their fingers. Bill Russell has 11, and he’s widely regarded as the greatest winner in NBA history. Michael Jordan went 6-for-6 in his NBA Finals appearances, earning him the title of the greatest player of all time. Kobe Bryant even won five championships, which makes him one of the greatest Lakers to ever don the purple and gold.
James has now won four titles in 10 tries, which puts him within striking distance of Bryant and Jordan. When most people peg Jordan as the better player, they cite his six rings. Well, James is now only two away, and he’s barely lost a step at age 35.
He’ll have a few more years left of dominant basketball with a chance to catch Bryant and Jordan in the rings department. But there’s another Lakers player he still has to catch, too.
Michael Cooper has more NBA rings than James despite averaging 8.9 points per game in his career
Michael Cooper might not be at the top of the list of the greatest Lakers ever like Bryant and James are, but he still has more championship rings than ‘The King’ himself.
Cooper won five NBA titles with the Lakers during his 12 years with the team, all while scoring just 8.9 points per game. He only had two seasons in which he averaged more than 10 points per game.
Cooper might not have lit up the scoreboard for the Lakers in the 1980s, but he provided lock-down defense his entire career. He was named to the NBA All-Defensive Team eight times and even won Defensive Player of the Year in 1986-87. The Lakers might not win those five titles without Cooper’s defensive prowess.
Although James might have his sights set on Jordan and Bryant, he still has to catch Cooper in the race for the most championship rings.
All stats courtesy of Basketball Reference