New York Daily News: MANHATTAN, NY – Crown him King for a fourth time.
It’s not one, not two, not three but four NBA championship rings for LeBron James, who is long past competing for his spot on the NBA’s Mount Rushmore.
It’s Michael and LeBron. The other goats are grazing in a different pasture.
The Lakers’ championship odds were slipping through the cracks after the Heat stole Games 3 and 5. James brought the pain in Game 6, driving with force to the rim time and time again.
After scoring 40 points in the Lakers’ eventual Game 5 loss, he only needed 28, 14 rebounds and 10 assists to seal the deal on Sunday night. The Lakers beat the Heat 106-93 in a game that was out of doubt early, with the Lakers leading by 28 at halftime.
It was his James’ 11th triple-double in the NBA Finals, three more than Magic Johnson, who retired with eight. For reference, Michael Jordan has zero — triple doubles in the Finals, and losses in the Finals, too.
The Lakers were dominant from start to finish. They burst the Heat bubble early, turning an eight-point first quarter advantage into a 28-point lead entering halftime. Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra made a grave error, sitting stretch-five Kelly Olynyk the entire first half and most of the third quarter.
Olynyk was key in the Heat’s Game 5 victory, shooting three-of-five from downtown and forcing Anthony Davis to leave the paint and guard the perimeter. With an injured Bam Adebayo playing the bulk of the minutes at the five, Davis was a nightmare in the paint: two blocks, and even more contested attempts at the rim.
Championship Jimmy Butler never walked through the door Sunday night. After 47 minutes in Game 5, he was a step slow on defense, and not as aggressive offensively in Miami’s elimination game. He finished with 12 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. There were no Heat heroics on Sunday night.
Instead, championship Rajon Rondo made an appearance, earning his second NBA championship ring 12 years after winning his first in 2008. Rondo was acting totally different: He blew by Butler on a number of occasions and finished with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting, including three-of-four from deep.
James’ pieces showed once again, just like they did in Game 4. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope hit big shots once again, scoring 17. Davis finished with 19 points, 15 rebounds, three assists and those two aforementioned rejections. New York native Danny Green made an appearance, hitting three big treys.
“We just want our respect,” James said. “Rob (Pelinka) wants his respect. Coach (Frank) Vogel wants his respect. Our organization wants their respect. Laker nation wants their respect.
“And I want my damn respect, too.”
Respect is earned, and James has earned it on the biggest stage for the fourth time in his career. James has ring No. 4, and his third championship with three different franchises.
The Lakers may have lost Game 5 wearing Black Mamba jerseys, but late great Kobe Bryant only cared about one thing:
And these LeBron James-led Lakers did just that.
New York Daily News
Kristian Winfield is an NBA reporter for the Daily News. He covers not just the Knicks and Nets, but the entire league from a national perspective. Kristian joined this team in July 2019 after three seasons covering the league at SB Nation. From Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, he is a proud graduate of Benjamin Banneker HS and Hampton University.