Jerry West and LeBron James
© Kyle Terada and Jerome Miron – USA TODAY Sports
While LeBron James is one of the greatest basketball players in history, some fans hesitate to give him the GOAT tag because of his 4-6 NBA Finals record. This type of discussion has reached the higher echelons of the league, specifically The Logo Himself, Jerry West. The NBA icon defended James from such criticism, tagging them as “ridiculous.”
In an interview in 2016, ahead of the NBA Finals duel between LeBron’s Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors, West was asked for his thoughts on James’ then 2-4 NBA Finals record. West, then an executive board member of the Warriors, shared his passionate opinions on the matter.
“I don’t want to sound like Donald Trump, but it’s hard for me to believe someone doesn’t recognize his greatness. This guy does everything, and he’s competitive as hell. Frankly, I wish people would leave him alone.”
West’s comments may have been prophetic. As we all know, the Cavaliers climbed back from a 3-1 deficit to win the NBA Finals. Talks on LeBron’s mediocre record were put to the side. After all, a 3-1 comeback in basketball’s biggest stage is one of the most significant milestones a player could achieve. What made it even sweeter was that James did it against a 73-win team helmed by Stephen Curry.
West is a classy guy and stepping up in defense of James is a classy move. He doesn’t hate LeBron’s guts even though they were competitors in the NBA Finals during that time. However, those who know West and his NBA Finals record as a player would make you understand why he defended LeBron.
West holds a 1-8 record in the NBA Finals. He understands the long journey to basketball’s biggest stage. The former Lakers guard knows how heartbreaking it is to go through the long and winding road only to be smacked by the better team. In other words, he has felt James’ pain.
Whatever the case may be, it seems that James has no escape from the fans’ wrath. West and other legends could go on stepping up for James’ cause. But when he finally hangs up his jersey and sneakers for good, his NBA Finals record — which will be forever tainted — will be brought into the discussion.
Jerry West has a reality check for everyone thinking a 4-6 Finals record is a bad thing.
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"That's the most ridiculous thing" — why Jerry West defended LeBron James' NBA Finals record – Basketball Network
Jerry West and LeBron James