BALLSTON SPA, NY – Those of you who have read my Hot Takes recently, are well aware how strongly I’ve backed the Cleveland Cavaliers during the postseason. And after Sunday night’s loss, I’m in a rather somber mood. So without all of the hoopla, I think it’s just best to get right to it. But instead of a set of brand new Ebs’ Hot Takes, I’m bringing back my One Big Thing. This time it’s about LeBron James.
Don’t blame LeBron.
It’s pretty incredible how much of this country hates LeBron James. Did you know he was voted both the most-hated and most-loved player in all of sports? That’s a pretty incredible feat.
And I’m by no means counting out the Cavs out yet, but the deck is stacked heavily against them.
As someone who’s grown up watching Bron Bron play and mature in this league, I want to stop all of you who will never put James up there with the likes of Michael Jordan.
Most cite his 2-4, and possible 2-5, record in the NBA Finals. Before you crucify him for that read this. Granted, while a 2-4 record is obviously not good, James’ teams were only expected to win 2.3 titles and had an expected Finals win percentage of 39 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s ELO rating. In comparison, Jordan’s expected win percentage was 66 percent while the likes of Kobe Bryant was 69 percent, Larry Bird was 61 percent and Magic Johnson was 45 percent.
Heck, LeBron was only favored in three of his seven NBA Finals appearances, while the other four times he was given less than a 32-percent chance to win the series.
Like this season, James’ teams were almost never supposed to win. James was the underdog time and time again. And this series, possibly unlike any other, it’s showing how poorly built James’ team is around him. Sure, Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and J.R. Smith can all score, but no one plays defense. And whenever James goes to help one of his teammates on the defensive end, the Warriors find the open man.
Cleveland once again kept both Steph Curry and Klay Thompson under 20 points a piece, all while James was once again hovering the triple-double line, yet that wasn’t even enough to keep it close. Other guys need to pick up the slack.
I’m not saying that this series is over, because Cleveland hasn’t even played a game at home yet. But my point is, if the Cavaliers do go on to lose this series, don’t pile on LeBron just because people call him King James.
Remember, MJ had stars around him, too. Even the greatest need to be on good teams to win. That’s why Anthony Davis hasn’t made the playoffs yet and Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul are still without a rings.