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.
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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