One of the most unlikeliest and unexpected NBA match-ups began last night. The Miami Heat versus the Los Angeles Lakers, the NBA Finals which will determine the 2019-2020 NBA champions. Games 2, 3 and 4 are on the schedule for tomorrow, Friday, Sunday and Tuesday in the Bubble.
The fact that we’ve/they’ve even reached this point––the championships––during this COVID environment is monumental within itself.
It’s been a year, a summer where grown, professional basketball players have been awakened. They’ve discovered the art of protesting and that they can vote for something other than their collective bargaining agreements, or in elections outside of their locker rooms that can help shape this country.
It’s been a summer with a “Black Lives Matter” theme but, meanwhile, three of the four NBA coaches that were fired, were Black. And though no one mentions the national anthem, let us not forget the words in verse three, the part that’s not sung;
“No refuge could save the hireling and slave
from the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave.”
It is complicated, but so is the coronation of this season’s NBA champion, but in different ways depending on your personal interests.
The Lakers, the best team in the Western Conference during the regular season, but second best overall in the league behind the Milwaukee Bucks, are facing the five seed, an Eastern Conference Heat team that has defeated the Indiana Pacers in four games, the first round of playoffs, the mighty Bucks in five games of the second round of playoffs and the Boston Celtics, the 3-seed in six games to win the Eastern Conference championship trophy.
If the Heat, led by Jimmy Butler and some incredible play by Bam Adebayo and rookie guard Tyler Herro, follow the pattern that they’ve set, advancing in each series of this post season, first with just 4 wins, then 5 and then 6, they could defeat Los Angeles for the championship in 7 games of this best-of-7 series.
That would be magical, poetic, remarkable, something talked about through the annals of time, but one thing stands in Miami’s way, and that would be LeBron James.
Listed on the Lakers roster and on collectibles as a forward, small and power, James, 35, 6-foot-9, 250 pounds, in his second season as a Laker, his 17th season as a player, has the ability to also play guard, point and shooting as well as center. Every position on the floor.
His aggressive, bullish, forward drive move to the basket is one of his great strengths and has to be stopped, curtailed if Miami wants to win as much as James and the Lakers do. It’s been 10 years since they last contended. Led by Kobe Bryant, the Lakers defeated the Celtics in 2010 to win their 16th NBA championship, the second most for an NBA franchise. Boston has the most, 17.
“I’m extremely proud to be a part of this franchise getting back to where it belongs, and that’s playing for championships and competing for championships,” said James earlier this week after the Lakers clinched in five games against the surprising play of the Denver Nuggets. “This is what I came here for.”
James, who is familiar with the Heat organization and their head coach Eric Spoestra, winning two championships together in Miami in 2012 and in 2013. James’ also has a third chip that he won in 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers, their first and only championship win.
Accompanied by Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo, most importantly Playoff Rondo, James’ Lakers have won each of their three post season series, the Portland Trailblazers, the Houston Rockets and the Nuggets in five games, which should be a concern for the Heat.