The journey is complete.
After years of having to suit up the likes of Lonzo Ball, Tarik Black, and Ronny Turiaf, the Los Angeles Lakers have completed their trip from the cellar back to the penthouse on Sunday. Lebron James put up 28 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists to lead the Lakers to a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game Six of the 2020 NBA Finals.
For the Lakers, this makes their 17th championship – tying the Boston Celtics for most championships of all time. However, seeing how the 2019-20 season has unfolded, this championship may have been the most hard-fought of all of them. From the untimely death of Laker legend Kobe Bryant then the entire league going on a four-month hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there was no way to tell who was going to come out on top.
For James, he made a promise to Lakers fans in March 2019 he would get this team back to the promised land. After being handed his 4th Finals MVP Trophy, it was safe to say that he followed through on that promise. During the ceremony, he made reference to that and showed he understood what it meant to truly be part of the Lakers community. He also let his protagonists know exactly where he stands now that he has cemented himself in the hall of such established Lakers greats. He joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the late Bryant, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O’Neal.
“I told Jeanie when I got here that I was going to put this franchise back in the position where it belongs,” James said. “For me to be a part of this historical franchise, it’s an unforgettable feeling, not only for myself but the coaches, trainers, etc. We just want our respect, Rob wants his respect, Coach (Frank) Vogel wants his respect, the organization wants their respect, Laker Nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect, too.”
After leading three different teams (Miami Heat – 2012, 2013; Cleveland Cavaliers – 2016) to a championship and 10 Finals appearances, it is safe to say that James’ respect is way overdue.