A historic three-game stretch has left no doubt.
LeBron James, who willed the Cleveland Cavaliers to their first NBA title in 52 years, has officially reclaimed his crown as the greatest active basketball player in the world.
“He had a freakin’ triple-double in Game 7 of an NBA Finals game,” teammate Kyrie Irving said, via ESPN. “There will still be naysayers, but I know it doesn’t matter to him. It doesn’t matter to me. All that matters is we’re champions, and our whole team is etched in history.”
James was otherworldly in Games 5-7 of the NBA Finals, scoring 109 points, grabbing 35 rebounds and handing out 29 assists as the Cavs came back from 3-1 down to beat the Golden State Warriors. During Sunday’s Game 7 win, LeBron produced 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists over 47 minutes, while also delivering a signature moment on a late block (see below) and knocking down a free throw with 10 seconds left to give the Cavs a four-point lead.
The block https://t.co/gZEYFQ4qIn
— Athletic Recruiting (@ncsa) June 20, 2016
“Best player on the planet,” Irving said.
James led the NBA Finals in points (208), rebounds (79), assists (62), steals (18) and blocks (18), becoming the first player ever to lead a playoff series in all five categories. He became the fifth player in NBA history to win a third Finals MVP.
Steph Curry, the NBA’s two-time reigning MVP, scored just 17 points on 6-of-19 shooting during Golden State’s Game 7 loss.
In the end, James was too much for the historic Warriors, who won 73 regular season games and 88 overall during the 2015-16 season.
After falling behind 3-1, the King scored 41 points in back-to-back games and then produced only the third Game 7 triple double in NBA history.
LeBron James joins elite company. pic.twitter.com/FLa0eHykQa
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) June 20, 2016
The Cavs became the first team in NBA Finals history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to win the title.
The comeback will live on in NBA history as one of the most impressive achievements in the league’s history. And James’ performance over the final three games may have no rival on an individual level, especially given the opponent and the stakes.
Best player on the planet? There is no more doubt.