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Forever and ever, LeBron

Forever and ever, LeBron

It’s over. There have been six wonderful games within an eternal rivalry, which remains to be remembered, for posterity. One more chapter that he has put, for poetic justice, face to face once again with LeBron James and the Warriors dynasty. The last the NBA has seen in its long history. The King claims his crown with a superb performance, that march that no one knew if he had but that has finally emerged to lead the Lakers to the Conference finals. Some Lakers who started the season 2-10 and who are now 8 victories from the ring. It seems a lie, a hoax, a spell. One of those jokes that are told but nobody laughs at because it simply doesn’t sound real. Something extremely unique, historical already, in the many pages that the eternal book of the NBA has. And it was LeBron who, in the end, put the finishing touch on the project of extraordinary champions that was completed in 2014, with the arrival of Steve Kerr on the bench, and who has lost his first series in the Western Conference with the legendary man in charge. . Before, they had only been beaten in the Finals, in 2019 by the Raptors and in 2016 by, of course, LeBron’s Cavs. That, 8 years later, he again kills his nemesis. With the rivals that have shaped his legend. Tremendous.

This time, and unlike in the series against the Grizzlies, LeBron did wave. The Warriors have earned that right and have not displayed the usual Dillon Brooks verbiage to make themselves try to do damage that never existed. He shook hands with Steve Kerr and melted into a long hug with Draymond Green, a friend with whom he shares an agent (Rich Paul) and agency (Klutch Sports). Then to Klay Thompson, before going through Andrew Wiggins. And also, of course, Stephen Curry, that other celestial being who will share a place on Olympus with him and who will ascend to the highest heaven the day he retires. At 35 years old, the point guard has had some tremendous playoffs and finished Game 6 with 32 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists, but very erratic shooting (11 of 28, with 4 of 14 on three-pointers) and 4 turnovers. For the history of legends, 50 of his goals remain in the seventh against the Kings. But the one who continues this time is LeBron, who finally made his great game: 30+9+9, an incredible 10 of 14 in the shot and a classification for the annals, leading the Lakers, who have finished seventh in the normal season to the conference finals. Spectacular.

The Lakers started as they had to start: with rebounding, grit, strength, running and physicality. They were not scared or infuriated by the demonstration of the champion’s pride in the fifth game: 18-7 start and Steve Kerr’s first timeout, who was quick to ask for a second. Despite this, the Warriors resisted: 31-26 at the end of the first period and 56-46 at halftime, a result cemented in a play at the end of the period in which Anthony Davis put up a spectacular block and Austin Reaves launched a triple from the center of the field that caused the revelry of the public, Jack Nicholson included. There was no reaction away from home: the Warriors were tired, their legs weren’t working after seven first-round games and their 11-30 away record in the regular season hung like an uncomfortable shadow that you can’t shake. The Lakers led by 14 at the end of the third quarter (91-77). And a sign indicated a fact: the defending champions had a record of 0-27 this season when they came from behind in the final period. So it was.

LeBron and Davis retired to the bench with less than 4 minutes remaining with the duel sentenced and they melted into a heartfelt hug. The second, immeasurable, went to 17 points, 20 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks and made us forget the involuntary blow received by Kevon Looney (10+18, his huge playoffs) in the previous clash. The upcoming battle with Nikola Jokic in the series against the Nuggets is more than interesting. In what follows, also take into account Austin Reaves (23+6+5, with 4 of 5 in triples), D’Angelo Russell (19) and Lonnie Walker IV, who went to 13 in 14 minutes and returned to shine like the microwave the Lakers want him to be. Dennis Schröder started in place of Jarred Vanderbilt to be Curry’s barnacle, and he did well until he was sent off for two technicals, both for encounters with a Draymond Green and only received one. Like a good old dog, the power forward knew how to move in the mud, in the trenches. But this time he did not win. And also mention Darvin Ham, who vindicates himself with constant adjustments in this series, keeps the Lakers undefeated in the Crypto in these playoffs (6-0) and wins the game against Steve Kerr who is surely one of the five best coaches in NBA history.

The Warriors, who not only lose for the first time in the West since 2014 (19 consecutive ties counting playoff misses in 2020 and 2021), also go without winning at least one road game in a series after a record 29 qualifying rounds in a row doing it, they now go to the thinking corner. They already pay too much in the luxury tax and renewed Jordan Poole over Draymond Green, a controversial decision, but motivated by the havoc that the latter causes internally in the franchise. The shooting guard, completely overwhelmed by the situation in these playoffs, has been 3 of 10 shooting in this series. Green has been better and has once again shown that he is a fundamental piece in the team’s organization chart (9 + 9 + 3 today), but he is a free agent and there is no money for everyone. There is also Klay Thompson, whose level has been bleak (3 of 19, 2 of 12 in triples in the sixth round) and far removed from the player he was, in attack and defense, before tearing his cruciate muscle and hamstring. Achilles consecutively.

And then there are the Lakers. That they face a wonderful series against a rival against the Nuggets, repeating the tie that took place in the same round in the Orlando bubble, in 2020, and in 2009, in Kobe Bryant’s fourth ring. It is the second conference final since 2010, in the last Black Mamba championship. A poor baggage for an entity that has 17 rings in its showcases and is going for 18. It can no longer be hidden. In the Conference finals there are 4 teams in contention and there may be one left. Davis is healthy. And LeBron (already the fourth rebounder in playoff history, he passed Shaquille O’Neal), who is playing very intelligently and penetrating when he has to, doesn’t care about his chronic foot pain and knows that You are facing a great opportunity, probably your last. And that, with 38 years and 20 years in the NBA, you must not let anything slip away and you must fight to the last breath for a unique, historic, unrepeatable opportunity. He is the King of the NBA. LeBron James claims the crown from him. He lives. And he reigns, of course. Forever and ever. Amen.

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