NBA

LeBron can lay claim to GOAT status by beating Warriors

Jay Asser 27/05/2017
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In the presence of greatness: LeBron James. Picture: Getty Images.

There’s a reason why the phrase is called ‘chasing ghosts’. There’s either nothing there to chase or it’s a pursuit that’s simply impossible.

For the longest time, that’s what it felt like for anyone who ever played in the shadow of Michael Jordan. He set the standard, but placed the bar so high that no matter the ambition of players who followed him, it just wasn’t possible to come all that close.

That is, until now.

LeBron James has a laundry list of incredible feats and achievements on a basketball court, but his greatest accomplishment may very well end up being snatching away the title of GOAT (Greatest of All Time) from Jordan.

05 26 2017 Lebron James

And while it would seem only fair to wait until LeBron’s career is all said and done for a legitimate claim to be made, he has the chance to bypass that waiting period and seize the throne now if – and this is a big ‘if’ – he wins another championship in a few weeks time.

Call it ‘recency bias’ if you want, but just know it has a cousin called ‘nostalgia bias’ and we often fall victim to that, especially when it comes to Jordan’s legacy. There’s no doubt the Chicago Bulls legend stands alone at the top of the game’s pantheon, yet this is less about picking Mike apart than it is about recognising equally overarching greatness in LeBron.

James isn’t there yet, but if he pulls this off – beating the Golden State Warriors again – there will be no further reason to deny him. A fourth ring would still put LeBron behind Jordan’s six, but the strength of what would be his last two would be enough to surpass Jordan.

LeBron has already won one for his beloved home and that too in improbable fashion by historically overcoming a 3-1 Finals deficit to defeat the greatest regular-season team ever. If that was a storybook ending, then repeating would be like the typical superhero sequel in which instead of saving just a city, he saves the world. The villains from the original movie? They’re now more powerful and have a new weapon in Kevin Durant that makes them pretty much unstoppable. If anyone can do it though, it’s LeBron.

The ‘rangzzz’ argument should never be the hill people choose to die on, but in this case, it isn’t about quantity of titles, rather quality. You can only beat what’s in front of you and Jordan did that. If LeBron does it in these Finals, he may as well be a Ghostbuster.

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NBA finals 2017 GST times and TV schedule

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Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

Cleveland Cavaliers begin the defence of their NBA crown at the Oracle Arena on Thursday in a dream repeat of last year’s finals, which saw the Cavs clinch the title against the Warriors.

The Cavaliers will arrive in California firing on all cylinders, with their dynamic duo of LeBron James and Kyrie Irving all fit and ready as they bid to win back-to-back titles.

The Warriors, meanwhile, are in sensational form after dominating the San Antonio Spurs to win the Western Conference Finals 4-0.

Check out the schedule and TV below.

GAME 1

Thursday, June 1: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5AM

GAME 2

Sunday, June 4: Cleveland Cavaliers  at Golden State Warriors– 4AM

GAME 3

Wednesday, June 7: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM

GAME 4

Friday, June 9: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM

GAME 5

Monday, June 12: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 5AM

GAME 6

Thursday, June 15: Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers – 5AM

GAME 7

Sunday, June 18: Cleveland Cavaliers at Golden State Warriors – 4AM

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LeBron James reigns as Cavs book place in NBA Finals

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LeBron James.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, fueled by another milestone night for LeBron James, powered into a third straight NBA Finals meeting with the Golden State Warriors with a dominant 135-102 win over the Celtics in Boston on Thursday.

“King” James surpassed NBA icon Michael Jordan as the league’s all-time leading playoff scorer.

He finished the game with 35 points, booking his seventh straight finals appearance as the reigning champion Cavs wrapped up a 4-1 victory over the Celtics in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals.

For the third straight year they’ll face the Warriors for the crown.

“We all need to soak this up. This is a great moment, and this is not promised,” James said.

The Warriors, who beat Cleveland for the title in 2015, swept the San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference finals and host game one of the championship series in Oakland next Thursday.

Cleveland jumped to a quick 14-5 lead and were up by 43-27 after the first quarter — posting a franchise record for points in a quarter of a playoff game.

Cleveland’s 75 first half points were the most in an NBA playoff game half since 2003 and gave them an 18-point cushion.

James had come into the contest needing 28 points to pass Jordan — winner of six titles with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s — for first on the post-season scoring list.

He did it with a three-pointer late in the third quarter — the first of a string of three straight from beyond the arc.

In addition to leading all scorers he had eight assists and eight rebounds. He had taken his post-season career points total to 5,995 by the time he took a seat for the entire fourth quarter — along with the rest of Cleveland’s starters.

Kyrie Irving — who scored 42 points in Cleveland’s game-four victory — added 24 points and Kevin Love contributed 15.

The Cavs’ ‘Big Three’ were strongly backed by their reserves. Deron Williams added 14 off the bench for Cleveland, who led by as many as 39.

“(We) went through some tough times in the regular season, but we knew we had confidence to be great,” Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said.

As Cleveland faltered in the regular season, the Celtics had seized the top seed in the East. But it meant little as Boston never led in any of their home games in the series.

James, Irving and Love took command from the opening tip-off on Thursday.

Love scored Cleveland’s first eight points and finished the opening frame with 10 points and five rebounds. James scored 11 points with six assists in the period and Irving, showing no sign of the twisted left ankle he suffered in the third quarter of game four, scored nine as Cleveland shot 64 percent from the field in the first quarter.

Boston’s Avery Bradley tried to fight back with 14 points in the second quarter. He finished the game with 23, but the Celtics never came close to mounting a rally.

“We’re definitely disappointed. I felt like if we weren’t, it would be a problem,” Bradley said. “We feel like we should be here, and we feel like we should be a championship-contending team.”

The Cavaliers, who rallied from a 3-1 series deficit to beat the Warriors in last year’s finals, set an NBA record in winning their 13th straight playoff series potential closeout game.

The Los Angeles Lakers had set the previous record of 12 straight wins in potential elimination games from 2000-2004.

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