Stop me if you’ve heard this one before; LeBron James is back in the NBA Finals. His Los Angeles Lakers advanced to their record-setting 32nd Finals after an easy 12-3 run through the Western Conference Playoffs. Now, James joins a shortlist of NBA players to reach double-digit title bouts.
LeBron James Reaches Ninth Finals in 10 Years, 10th Overall
Two Decades of Dominance
James has accumulated plenty of impressive accolades throughout his time in the NBA. Now, in his 17th season, he joins just three other players in NBA history in making at least 10 NBA Finals appearances. After missing the playoffs last season, James has now reached the championship series nine times in the past 10 seasons.
Only Bill Russell (12) and Sam Jones (11) have more Finals appearances than James, who ties NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for third-most appearances with 10. Russell and Jones won 10 titles together for the Boston Celtics in 11 seasons, while Abdul-Jabbar won six rings between 1971 and 1988. James has a chance to win his fourth ring in the upcoming 2020 NBA Finals.
Once the Lakers take the floor for the first game of the Finals, James will have more appearances than 27 NBA teams. Only the Lakers (32), Celtics (21), and Golden State Warriors (11) have more Finals berths than James.
James is the only player on the list to reach the Finals with three different franchises. He led the Cleveland Cavaliers to five Finals berths in 11 seasons and went a perfect four-for-four with the Miami Heat from 2011-14. However, those nine appearances resulted in just three championships.
Now, in his second season with the Lakers, a fourth ring would breathe new life into one of the most historic franchises in all of sports.
A Place in Los Angeles Lakers History for LeBron James
From 2000 to 2010, the Lakers made the Finals seven times and brought home five banners along the way. Then, the franchise suffered its worst playoff drought in history, missing the postseason altogether six years in a row. Now, in the wake of their first playoff appearance since 2013, they’ve climbed their way back to the NBA Finals.
The Celtics currently hold the record for the most NBA titles in league history with 17, but the Lakers can change that this season. Los Angeles is right on their heels with 16 banners in their illustrious history.
A 2020 title, though, would mean a lot more to Lakers fans than a ring in any other year. In a season dedicated to the late Kobe Bryant, no other result would suffice.
Looking Ahead to the NBA Finals
The Lakers will face the Miami Heat in the 2020 NBA Finals, creating a bit of irony. James will face off against his former team and the likes of Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra. He gets to square off with the team where he won his first championship. It is also a reminder to many of why they may dislike James, regardless of his accolades. Regardless, James’ ability to lead teams to the NBA Finals cannot be ignored.
The 2020 NBA Finals will start on Sept. 30th.
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