(SP) – The NBA Finals will wrap up soon, and it looks all but certain LeBron James will add yet another heroic defeat to his ever-growing resume.
This makes an impressive five Finals losses for LeBron, including three in the last four years. It’s an incredible mark that hasn’t been matched in the NBA for decades, back when there were far fewer teams to lose to.
James explained to reporters today that he could have lost as many as nine more NBA Finals already if things had gone his way. Last year James was averaging a perfectly good 25 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists through four games against the 73–9 Warriors and was all set up for LeBron to add a loss to his most impressive Finals opponent yet when everything went awry. A Draymond punch here, a Bogut injury there, some Kyrie magic, and suddenly the Cavs had won the whole thing.
But that wasn’t the only time James came so close to an historic defeat only to come up just short. A few years earlier, LeBron seemed all but certain to walk off the court a Finals loser when he missed a game-tying three in the closing seconds, only to see teammates Chris Bosh and Ray Allen combine to save the series and send it to a deciding Game 7 the Heat ultimately won.
But LeBron won’t stop there when he thinks about what might have been.
There was the 2009 Conference Finals loss to the Magic when LeBron’s 1-seed Cavs had been heavy favorites to lose to the Lakers in the Finals. There were the years before and after when James was eliminated by the Celtics in the second round. In LeBron’s darkest moments, he still sometimes wonders how heroic it might have felt to lose to a threepeat Kobe team in the Finals. It’s a legacy accomplishment he’ll never have now.
It turns out LeBron could have heroically lost as many as nine more NBA Finals had things bounced right. He could have added to his long list of defeats in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, and 2016. James might have been remembered among the likes of Jerry West (1–8) and Elgin Baylor (0–8) on the list of all-time NBA Finals losers. Instead, he’ll soon be a forgettable 3–5.
But James isn’t focusing on the past. He’s about to wrap up his finest heroic defeat in recent memory. James is averaging 32 points, 12 boards, and 10 assists, and many cannot remember LeBron losing to a more impressive team. When asked about the possibility of one day losing a title for the Lakers or Knicks, James got tears in his eyes and was unable to comment further. He dreams of one day adding a Finals MVP in a losing effort like his idol Jerry West.
Still, James is only 32 and in peak athletic form. With any luck, LeBron’s heroic losing could extend another five or ten years into the future.
When asked how many more Finals he thought he could lose before it was all over, with a nearly-impossible-to-beat Warriors team waiting for him in the Finals every year, LeBron could only chuckle.
“Not one, not two. Not three, not four, not five. Not six, not seven…”