Stamford, CT: Clickbait, got you. Lebron is not overrated. He carried a bunch of stiffs to the NBA finals in one of his most impressive seasons. But if you’re going to talk G.O.A.T. and use the eight straight finals as one of your talking points, it’s only fair to point out the less-than-stellar competition in the East during his run. Let’s take a look.
I don’t want to be a hater. You could seriously have thrown Lebron on any Eastern Conference team this year and they would have gone to the Finals. Except the Knicks, they would have found a way to screw it up. “Let’s use Lebron as a decoy and run a play for Kyle O’Quinn!”
The number one seed this year was the Toronto Raptors. They were swept by the Cavs and then fired their coach. The Celtics, their opponent in the Conference Finals, lost their top two players to injury. It took the Cavs seven games to get past Indiana in the first round. Sure, the Cavs had nobody in the orchestra resembling a second fiddle, but it was not exactly a stellar field.
The Other Seven
Eight straight finals is eight straight finals. But let’s look at the competition.
In those eight finals appearances, the teams in the Eastern Conference with the best record besides the King’s Cavs/Heat were:
The Lowry/DeRozan Raptors (2018 and 2016)
The Isiah Thomas Celtics (2017)
The Derrick Rose/Jimmy Butler Bulls (2015)
The Paul George Pacers (2014)
The Carmelo/A’mare Knicks (2013)
The Derrick Rose/Carlos Boozer Bulls (2011 and 2012)
Let’s be honest here, those teams were pretty average. Is there even one Hall-of-Famer? Jason Kidd was on the ’13 Knicks, but give me someone near his prime. Anyone. Who will go down as his biggest Eastern Conference rival? Derrick Rose? I know his bright career was derailed, but still, he’s the best we can do?
Be Like Mike
Now let’s take a look at the team with the best record other than the Bulls in Jordan’s six championship years.
90-91 Bird/McHale/Parrish Celitcs
91-92 Mark Price/Brad Daugherty/Larry Nance Cavs
92-93 Ewing/Starks Knicks
94-95 Ewing/Starks Knicks
95-96 Shaq/Penny Hardaway Magic
96-97 Mourning/Tim Hardaway Heat
That’s a bit of a different look. We have Dream Teamers, Hall of Famers, and All-Stars galore. Lebron would not have gone to eight straight in those days.
I’m not here to take sides in the Great G.O.A.T. Debate. It’s like debating pizza or tacos, there is no wrong answer. I am just here to say that if you’re going to make a big deal out of the eight straight finals appearances for Lebron, you have to at least mention the assemblage of mediocrity playing in the East at the time. Can I get an asterisk?
The original Isiah Thomas said in an interview that Lebron is the greatest to ever play. But based on his talent evaluation skills on display during his time running the Knicks, I’d say that’s a big feather in Jordan’s cap.
Too bad CP3 went down, I would have liked to have seen how that one would have played out. Regardless, D’Antonio should have played more than 7 guys. I felt badly for Trevor Ariza, the guy was busting his hump covering Durant, but couldn’t hit a lake on offense. That was Starks in ’94 painful.
Come back tomorrow for own G.O.A.T. (grumpy old ass turd), Angry Ward. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.