Let me clarify.
In his 17th NBA season, LeBron James is now set to make his 10th NBA Finals appearance.
If you take away the three years in which teams James led failed to make the playoffs, you see him appear in the final 10 out of 14 times (71.4%). And after tonight, teams featuring James have lost just once in the conference final, his only loss to the Orlando Magic in 2009.
Yes, LeBron is now 10-1 in the conference final.
James became only the fourth player in NBA history to make 10 or more appearances in the finals, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Boston Celtics legends Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) are the only two players to have played the most on the NBA Finals scene.
Say what you want about the final records, but to be completely honest you can only lose in the final if you make it to the final. Jerry West, the Logo, suffered seven defeats in the final before winning the elusive title on his eighth try, only to lose for an eighth time as he looked to repeat. Winning titles is tough, and qualifying for the final – winning or losing – is not the type of accomplishment to be laughed at.
The standard to which James is often held is a testament to his greatness. That it is expected Leading teams to the finals – in its 17th year, no less – is not normal.
We also know that LeBron’s star shone his best in the final. The last time he was there, he started off with a performance of 51 points, eight rebounds and eight assists in what I consider to be one of the greatest individual performances I’ve ever seen – in the regular season or in the playoffs.
Now, after a one-year hiatus from the playoffs, James is four away from the No.4 title with the No.3 team.
It’s worth mentioning that Robert Horry and John Salley are the only players in league history to have won titles with three separate franchises. While Horry and Salley performed their respective roles at a T, LeBron is the first player to lead three separate teams to the final, averaging 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists over the course of the first three rounds, and also has a chance to become the first player to win a Championship and a Final MVP with three different franchises.
That being said, James and the 2020 Lakers have four more wins to come before they achieve basketball immortality. And in this league, nothing is guaranteed.
For now, appreciate the greatness of accomplishment at hand. Unlike the fairly common view of a player shooting 10v17 from the field, we may never see a player leading a team to the Finals again in 10 of their 17 seasons.
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.