Student Opinion: The NBA Finals Deals with Respect

(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)

By Jose Orozco

After recently winning their 17th NBA Finals trophy against the Miami Heat, the Los Angeles Lakers have proven themselves once again, especially during the difficult times of the COVID-19 pandemic along with racial issues of police brutality.  

This year also saw many people pass away, including Kobe Bryant, a true tragedy for everyone in the basketball organization. Indeed, these finals were historic in the way in which players were restricted in a bubble during a time when social issues increasingly became a concern across the nation. 

Hence, we increasingly began to see players and fans calling for respect.

“I want my damn respect,” stated LeBron James after receiving the Finals MVP trophy, as he brought to attention the many analysts who continued to wrongly devalue his ability to play. 

In relation to the GOAT debate, Michael Jordan has been considered to be at the pinnacle for as long as anyone can remember. And LeBron James, as any competitive athlete would, has spent his life trying to change that perspective. 

It is truly impressive that after seventeen years in the NBA, he is still playing at the top of the league.

But, James does have a tainted record with his 4-6 finals record. 

Notably, James struggled with two sweeps against his team when he was with the Cavaliers in 2007 and 2018. Now when we consider Jordan, he has a perfect finals record winning six and being Finals MVP in each.

It is difficult to sweep James’s losses under the rug because to be the greatest of all time, he must meet unreasonably high standards.

Let us look at the Miami Heat; a team that was obviously not at the caliber of the Lakers and had to play undermanned.

Two starters of the Heat, Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragić, became injured in Game 1 and were unable to play for several games. 

Yet Jimmy Butler, an undervalued star, came out with a historic game scoring, assisting and rebounding more than anyone in Game 3. Butler knew he had to play harder than ever while missing two of his best teammates. And he did, with an insane triple-double (40 PT, 13 REB, 11 AST).

But it did not end there.

In Game 5, Butler played 47 of 48 minutes to help his team get another win. A team that had little chances of winning was able to steal two games. 

Everyone but Heat fans said Miami would be swept and yet, that was not the case. They were thus disrespected by saying they would not be able to compete in the grand stage. 

Thus, the arduous work the Heat did to reach the NBA Finals apparently was not noteworthy.

 The point being, as the best player in the world, LeBron James should have been able to avoid being swept. If this comparison is not enough, look at Allen Iverson’s performance during the 2001 NBA Finals

Personally, I think that LeBron James does have an insane level of appreciation from the public. He is without a doubt, the best player in his era. And it is a matter of being content with what he has and will achieve. Because to be honest, beating Jordan’s record is just unreal.

During the NBA playoffs, players wanted to boycott a game in protest of the Jacob Blake shooting. NBC Sports reported: “They want the spotlight off them and their games and on social justice issues.”  

Some players were debating leaving the bubble and doing so would have definitely ended the playoffs.

Doc Rivers, the LA Clippers’ coach said, “It’s amazing why we keep loving this country, and this country does not love us back. It’s really so sad.”  

This was a devastating incident that needed to be addressed, but sometimes fans act poorly.

 For one, the way several players came out to protest was very premature. They had no plan and thought that there would be no repercussions for leaving. Many fans criticized them for pushing social-justice agendas, and yet they all decided to stop the strike when there was the potential to receive salary cuts.  

The players demanded team owners spend more money on social-justice issues. Something an NBA team does not generally want to deal with when they seek to entertain. 

And the lack of respect did not end there. 

During Game 5 of the NBA Finals, Danny Green missed the game-winning shot and received death threats from Laker fans. And could this get any worse?

Well, yes! The Lakers winning over the Heat did not bring peace. The Los Angeles Times reported that 76 arrests occurred in downtown LA following the team’s championship. 

“The Los Angeles Police Department said the alleged activities included vandalism, unlawful assembly and failure to disperse after a crowd of more than 2,000 converged near Staples Center.”

People were in the celebratory spirit, chanting Kobe’s name; nevertheless, it got out of control. People did not respect the police officers or other fellow members of the community as “the celebratory mood quickly soured as the scene devolved into another roving standoff between police in riot gear and throngs of people on the street — some without masks despite the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The issue of respect and our current values should be considered. The NBA is an entertainment hub that brings undeniable passion to those who follow it but acting in such a way is unacceptable. We should really consider James’s words in the right context and begin to value each and every individual who works to make a functioning society. 

Because we all want and deserve our damn respect. Whether or not everyone will get it, remains to be our eternal struggle.

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  1. Keith Olsen

    Indeed, these finals were historic

    Yes, they were historic for having the worst viewership ever.  People were turned off to the constant social justice messaging.

    1. Keith Olsen

      “I want my damn respect,”

      That’s LeBron James in a nutshell, it’s always about him.

      A very fair and well written article, thank you Julietta.  So refreshing to see this on the Vanguard.

        1. Keith Olsen

          Just stating the facts David.  Of course left wing media like Bloomberg is trying to downplay the effects of the social messaging that cost the NBA about half of its viewership.  People watch sports for a get away, not to get pounded by politics.

          1. David Greenwald

            To me that is suggestive of racism. The right is particularly hypocritical on this point in fact. Because they have their pomp military flyovers, the SEC used to run out the confederate flag, and as soon as Black athletes start speaking out, they turn the channel. It’s the modern equivalent of “run … run.” That’s my point.

          1. David Greenwald

            You’re the one bragging about the decline of NBA ratings – irrespective of the fact that ratings are down across the board.

    2. Bill Marshall

      Or, POTUS’ mishandling of the pandemic, cutting the season very short… same will be true in baseball and football [the latter with “canned” stadium fan noises, cancelled/rescheduled games…

      If you want to believe it is all about ‘social justice messaging’, fine… you can also believe that Covid completely disappeared when the weather got warmer in 2020… and the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, and that the current POTUS is the best prez ever, and truly has “made America greater than ever”… you have an absolute right to your delusions…

      People were turned off for reasons other than those you cite… real world… not Fantasy/Spin-Land.

      And, with any luck, we’ll be rid of a “virulent ‘cancer’-causing agent”, once all the votes are tallied..

  2. Keith Olsen

    Because to be honest, beating Jordan’s record is just unreal.

    Jordan is the GOAT and LeBron hates it.

    Jordan vs James
    Updated after LeBron’s 14th season. Michael Jordan has:
    •3 more rings
    •3 more final mvps
    •1 more DPOY
    •1 more season MVP
    •9 more scoring titles
    •3 more steals leader
    •3 more all defensive team selections
    •4000 more points / bron moved past him in playoff points, but it took him longer.
    •800 more steals
    •Beat 20 50+ win teams in the playoffs (Lebron only defeated 10)
    •Jordan never averaged less than 40% Field Goal in the finals
    Lebron did it twice
    •6/6 (never allowed a game 7)
    •Lebron had much more offensive help, example:
    Jordan never had a teammate average more than 22 points in the finals.. In fact, Mj is Only player in NBA history to lead a team to the championship with only one teammate averaging double figures in scoring
    * In the Bulls’ 1997 playoff run, Scottie Pippen averaged 19 points per game on 42% shooting. All other teammates of Jordan averaged under 8 points per game
    Kyrie averaged over 28 and DWade averaged more than 26
    •MJ never ever had a finals meltdown like Lebron in 2011 against the Mavs
    •MJ had more points in the playoffs in less games..
    MJ accomplished all of this in 13 seasons
    Lebron after his 14th season, is still chasing the “ghost” (GOAT) that played in Chicago”
    •Michael Jordan in the playoffs has put up atleast 40ppg, 5rpg, 5apg in 6 different playoff series. Along with an average of about 55% shooting, 3spg and 2bpg.
    (86 vs bos, 89 vs cavs, 90 vs philly, 92 vs Miami, 93 vs Phoenix, 88 vs cavs) Jordan won every one of those matchups except for the 1986 matchup vs the celtics.
    •Jordan in 88-89 averaged 32ppg, 8apg, 8rpg, 3spg off 54% shooting. LeBron has never even came close to this stat line.
    •in 87 thru 92, MJ averaged 5 straight seasons of atleast 51% FG shooting. LeBron has never done this.
    •the lowest FT% MJ ever shot in a season was 78%. Lebrons highest in a season ever is 78%.
    •MJ has a higher playoff FG% of 48.7% to Lebrons 48.3%
    •MJ has a higher playoff player efficiency rating of 28.6 to Lebrons 27.3.
    •MJ shoots a higher playoff 3 point percentage of 33.2% to Lebrons 32.9%
    •LeBron James has scored 30 points, 416 times in 1,117 games.
    Michael Jordan did it 562 times in 1,072 games.
    Jordan won 6 championships without losing a final in 1,072 games and LeBron in 1,117 games has lost 5 times and has only won 3 times (updated 2018)
    •MJ also shocked the league by being the first (and only) player to have 100 blocks and 200 steals in the same season, then turned around and did it again the next year..
    •Mj also has more career blocks (893) than Lebron James (853) despite playing in 22 LESS career games and being the smaller guy.
    Also, MJ averaged 1.6 blocks per game in the 1987-88 season which is absolutely bonkers for a 6’6″ shooting guard.
    Seriously this list can keep going. This isn’t even a debate. Mj is the GOAT.
    MIchael Jordan:
    •NBA record 5 playoffs series’ averaging atleast 40ppg
    •Only player in history to lead league in scoring and win DPOY
    •Highest scoring average, points per game, in any championship series:
    41.0 vs. Phoenix Suns, 1993 NBA Finals
    •Only rookie in NBA history to lead his team in four statistics (1984–85)
    •Only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring, win Most Valuable Player, and Defensive Player of the Year in the same season (1987–88)
    •Only player in history to average at least 30pts 6reb 5assists And 2 steals per game AND HE DID IT 7 TIMES.
    •Only player in NBA history to win Rookie of the Year (1984–85), Defensive Player of the Year (1987–88), NBA MVP (1987–88, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1995–96, 1997–98), All-Star MVP (1988, 1996, 1998), and Finals MVP (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998)
    •Only player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring and win the NBA championship MORE THAN ONCE in the same season
    * He did this SIX TIMES!! (1990–91, 1991–92, 1992–93, 1995–96, 1996–97, 1997–98)
    •One of two players in NBA history to score 3,000 points in a season: 3,041 points scored in 82 games played (37.1 ppg) (1986–87)
    * Wilt Chamberlain is the only other player to achieve this.
    •MJ is also the only player in NBA history to score over 40 points at age 40, and he did it twice!
    •In 1988, MJ earned: Dunk Champ, All Star Game MVP, NBA Scoring Title, League MVP and Defensive Player of the Year.
    Michael in only ELEVEN complete seasons with the Bulls:
    -10 scoring titles,
    -Won Defensive Player of the Year,
    -9 times all defensive team,
    -9time All NBA,
    -5 league MVPs
    -6 finals MVPs
    All 11 seasons. Mj has done in 11 seasons things Lebron hasn’t done and won’t do in his whole career…
    Remind me again…who is the GOAT?

    1. David Greenwald

      I tend to favor Jordan over Lebron. But Jordan has 6 rings, Lebron now has 4, (2 in Miami, 1 Cleveland, 1 in LA). Also Lebron made the finals 9 out of 10 years, some of those where he was literally the only quality player. And Jordan never had to face a team like the Warriors. Jordan did retire after his father’s murder during his prime, so he might have ended up with 8 straight championships, but that’s speculative. In short, I give the nod to Jordan as the most dominant player I’ve seen, but it’s at least a debate.

    2. Eric Gelber

      Fun exercise; but you can’t really compare players from different eras. The game was much more physical in Jordan’s day. If it still was, with his size and strength, LeBron would have been even more of a force than he has been. No telling how many rings, etc. he’d have.

  3. Ron Glick

    Actually Kareem is the greatest of all time in basketball and will remain so until LeBron breaks Kareems all time scoring record, something he is likely to do in the next year or two.

    LeBron MVP showing was so impressive. The way he would go into the lane and was unstoppable yet could swish it from 3 point territory. His proficiency on the free throw line, the blocks, rebounds and assists. The many triple doubles.

    Anyone who wants to talk smack about LeBron is likely pissed because he won’t shut up and dribble. Get over it this is America. He has as much right to free speech as you or anyone else. Stop being such a snowflake.

    The absolute greatest of all time in my opinion was Mohamed Ali.

    1. Keith Olsen

      Kareem wasn’t the greatest, he didn’t have near the skills of Jordan.  He was tall with a good sky hook shot, otherwise he couldn’t touch Jordan’s expertise.

  4. John Hobbs

    “pounded by politics.”

    Yeah, it’s tough to endure people kneeling or observing a moment of silence. A real beat-down of white privilege, but seldom fatal, like being beaten, choked or shot by the police, but rough on old bigots, I’m sure.

  5. Ron Glick

    “Kareem wasn’t the greatest, he didn’t have near the skills of Jordan. ”

    Laugh out loud. Kareem is still the all-time leading NBA point scorer and until somebody breaks that record he will remain the greatest point scorer of all time.

    Kareem was so good that when he was in college the NCAA made dunking illegal. As Kareem asked John Wooden “You think they would have done that if I was white?”

    So instead he developed his signature skyhook.

    From Wikipedia:

    At the time of his retirement at age 42 in 1989, Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA’s all-time leader in points scored (38,387), games played (1,560), minutes played (57,446), field goals made (15,837), field goal attempts (28,307), blocked shots (3,189), defensive rebounds (9,394), career wins (1,074), and personal fouls (4,657). He remains the all-time leader in points scored, field goals made, and career wins. He is ranked third all-time in both rebounds and blocked shots. In 2007, ESPN voted him the greatest center of all time,[8] in 2008, they named him the “greatest player in college basketball history”,[9] and in 2016, they named him the second best player in NBA history (behind Michael Jordan).[10]

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