NBA Finals postscript: LeBron enhances legacy and GOAT case

LeBron James after the Los Angeles Lakers won the 2019-20 NBA title
Photo of Ricky Dimon

Ricky Dimon

NBA

Show Bio

Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports -- just about any and all you can think of! -- and coaching tennis in Atlanta, GA. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

Most importantly, the Los Angeles Lakers captured their 17th NBA championship in a year they so desperately wanted to win to honor the late, great Kobe Bryant. It tied them with the Boston Celtics for the most all-time among all franchises.

But it was also the fourth NBA championship for LeBron James–and that is of no small importance.

LeBron in the 2020 NBA Finals

In addition to securing a fourth ring, LeBron also earned NBA Finals MVP honors for the fourth time in his illustrious career. And he did not just win it because his name is LeBron James–which was also going to be a realistic possibility. He won it fair and square, earning every bit of the extra hardware on Sunday night to accompany the Larry O’Brien Trophy following the Lakers’ Game 6 defeat of the Miami Heat.

Anthony Davis, LeBron’s only competition for MVP–was good (averaged 25.0 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 3.2 apg, 2.0 bpg, and 1.3 spg in the six-game series). LeBron was great. The 35-year-old went for 29.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 8.5 apg, and 1.2 spg. Yes, he almost averaged a triple-double; and he closed with one in the clincher (28 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists).

LeBron all-time

Making more history, LeBron became the first player to win NBA Finals MVP with three different franchises (also with the Heat and the Cleveland Cavaliers).

Following this 2019-20 triumph, here is where some of LeBron’s most important achievements stand:

– 4-time NBA champion
– 4-time NBA MVP
– 4-time NBA Finals MVP
– 16-time NBA all-star
– 3-time NBA All-Star Game MVP

And here is where some of his most important statistics rank:

– 34,241 points (third)
– 9,346 assists (eighth)
– 2,015 steals (13th)
– 7,491 playoff points (first)
– 1,871 playoff assists (second)
– 445 playoff steals (first)
– 10 NBA Finals appearances (fourth)

LeBron vs. Jordan

So, is LeBron James now the GOAT? Was he already the GOAT? Is he still not the GOAT?

Whatever the answer is, does it really matter? This debate is purely a matter of preference; it is not something that can be proven or not proven. What matters is the cold, hard facts–you know, the numbers; like the ones mentioned above. The GOAT may not be a terribly important debate, but it is a fun debate. And in order to debate what doesn’t matter, you have to look at what does matter.

There is a recency bias around everything, and LeBron is no exception. The fact that he is currently the biggest star in sports whereas Michael Jordan’s career came to an end almost 20 years ago obviously works in the King’s favor. That being said, The Last Dance did well to keep Jordan relevant in 2020, especially at a time when sports were shelved by the coronavirus pandemic. You probably watched that epic documentary and therefore don’t need a reminder of Jordan’s greatness, but here it is anyway: six-time NBA champion and NBA Finals MVP, five-time NBA MVP, 14-time NBA all-star, three-time All-Star Game MVP, and 1988 NBA Defensive Player of the Year. Jordan was 6-0 in NBA Finals; LeBron is 4-6. It is worth noting that 4-6 is a heck of a lot better than 3-7. Falling to 3-7 and doing so as a massive favorite of Miami would have been a disaster.

This title keeps LeBron in the hunt. It doesn’t mean he has surpassed Jordan. But it also doesn’t matter what I think–or what anyone else thinks. Nothing will change what LeBron or Jordan did on the court.

While I do not think LeBron is there yet, it also isn’t over yet. He is showing no signs of slowing down, and although that could happen sooner rather than later it may not happen before the Lakers win at least another championship. Heck, they are already favored to repeat in 2020-21. LeBron and company are +350 title favorites ahead of the Los Angeles Clippers (+400), Milwaukee Bucks (+500), and Golden State Warriors (+600).

Stay tuned.

Pickswise is the home of free NBA picks and predictions. Check out the latest NBA props and NBA parlays as well as best bets from the experts.

Virginia Bonuses

See All
FanDuel Sportsbook

$3000

No Sweat First Bet up to $3,000 - Guaranteed

Sign up for a new FanDuel Sportsbook account and make your first deposit of $10+

Place your first bet up to $3,000!

Get refunded up to $3,000 in bonus bets if you lose

Must be 21+. First online real money wager only. $10 first deposit required. Bonus issued as non-withdrawable free bets that expire 14 days after receipt. See full terms at fanduel.com/sportsbook.

Unibet

$100

Virginia Bettors- Get a $100 Risk-Free Bet!

Register for a new Unibet account & make a deposit

Place your first bet up to $100 risk-free!

Get refunded up if you lose up to $100

New players only. Terms & conditions apply. 21+. VA only.

bet365

$200

Bet $1 and Get $200 in Free Bets at bet365!

Register for a new bet365 account

Place qualifying bets of $1 or more

Get $200 in free bets - no matter if your bet wins or loses

New Customer Offer. Deposit required. Free Bets added to Free Bet Credits balance. Free Bet risk excluded from returns. T&Cs, time limits, and exclusions apply. Must be physically located in VA.

BetRivers

$500

Get a $500 Risk-Free Bet

Sign up for a new BetRivers account using promo code PICKSWISE

Make your first deposit & get up to $500 in free bets

To get $500 in free bets, wager $500

Must be 21+. Gambling Problem? Call 1-800-BETS OFF

DraftKings

$200

Bet $5, Get $200 in Bonus Bets Instantly

Sign up for a new account with DraftKings Sportsbook and make your first deposit

Make your first deposit and bet $5 on any sports market

Receive $200 in bonus bets instantly, no matter what!

Gambling Problem? Call 877-8-HOPENY/text HOPENY (467369) (NY), If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, crisis counseling and referral services can be accessed by calling 1-800-GAMBLER (1-800-426-2537) (CO/IL/IN/LA/MD/MI/NJ/PA/TN/WV/WY), 1-800-NEXT STEP (AZ), 1-800-522-4700 (KS), 888-789-7777/visit ccpg.org (CT), 1-800-BETS OFF (IA), or 1-888-532-3500 (VA). 21+ (18+ WY). Physically present in AZ/CO/CT/IL/IN/IA/KS/LA(select parishes)/MD/MI/NJ/NY/PA/TN/VA/WV/WY only. Void in OH/ONT. Eligibility restrictions apply. Valid 1 per new customer. Min. $5 deposit. Min. $5 bet. $200 issued as free bets that expire 7 days (168 hours) after being awarded. See terms at sportsbook.draftkings.com..

PointsBet

$500

Get $100 in Free Bets, for 5 Days Straight starting

Sign up for a new PointsBet account

Make a bet of up to $100 and receive a refund if you lose

Get this offer once a day for the first 5 days you sign up

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Caesars Sportsbook

$1,250

Your First Cash Bet Is On Caesars Up To $1,250

Sign up for a new Caesars Sportsbook account and Place your 1st wager of $10 or more

If you lose, you get 100% of your stake back as a Bet Credit - up to $1,250.

AND win or lose, you’ll also get 1,000 Reward Credits® and 1,000 Tier Credits.

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

BetMGM

$1,000

Get $1,000 Paid Back in Bonus Bets, if you Don't Win

Register for a new BetMGM & deposit

Place your first bet up to $1,000!

Get refunded up to $1,000 in bonus bets if you don't win

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

DraftKings

$1,000

Get a $1,000 Deposit Bonus

Register for a new DraftKings Sportsbook account & deposit

DraftKings will match 20% of your deposit up to $1,000 total

To get a $100 bonus, deposit $500

21+. Terms & conditions apply.

PointsBet

$2,000

Get up to $2,000 in Free Bets

Register for a new PointsBet account & deposit

Receive a free bet refund up to $500 if your first fixed odds bet loses

& a free bet refund up to $1,500 if your first two PointsBetting Wager loses

Must be 21+. Full terms are available at PointsBet.

Monkey Knife Fight

$100

Claim Instant Deposit Match up to $100 + Free $5 game

Register for a Monkey Knife Fight account & deposit using promo code PICKSWISE100

Monkey Knife Fight will match your first deposit up to $100

Deposit $100 and you'll get $100 bonus + a free $5 game

18+. Terms and conditions apply. You must live in one of the states where real money DFS is legal.

TVG

$200

Get Your First Single-Horse Win Wager Back Up to $200 if you don't win

Register for a new TVG account and make a deposit

Place your first single horse win-type bet up to $200

If your horse doesn't win you'll get a refund up to $300

21+. T&C's apply. Please gamble responsibly.

TwinSpires

$200

Get a $200 Sign-Up Bonus with Twinspires Racebook!

Open your TwinSpires.com account using offer code BET200

$200 bonus cash will be credited in increments of $100 for every $400 wagered

To earn the full $200 bonus players must wager $800 within 30 days

21+. Terms and conditions apply.

Underdog Fantasy

$100

First deposit is 100% matched up to $100 with Underdog Fantasy

Sign up for a new account with Underdog Fantasy

Make your first deposit

Every dollar (up to $100) will be matched! Deposit $25, get $50; deposit $100, get $200, etc

Must be 21+ to play. Terms & conditions apply