Now that LeBron James has won a title with the Los Angeles Lakers, what is his legacy with the franchise?
With the confetti falling and the championship mission realized, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers won the franchise’s 17th title. The title fulfills the potential that LeBron James an NBA all-time great brought when he was signed in the summer of 2018 as a free agent.
After so many years in the wilderness of NBA mediocrity, there is no doubt who the kings of the NBA are. With their coronation the Lakers have solidified their legacy as the greatest franchise in NBA history, but what of their leader LeBron James. What does this title do for his Lakers legacy?
When LeBron decided to sign with the Lakers it signaled that the Lakers were back to prominence in the NBA after missing the playoffs for five straight years, when a groin injury on Christmas Day derailed the season the promise of LeBron’s arrival seemed to dim.
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In 2019 coming off another missed playoff year the Lakers front office went all in and traded for Anthony Davis from there LeBron locked in on winning a title with the Lakers.
LeBron averaged 25.3 points on the season his lowest output since the 2015-16 season, but with Davis able shoulder some of the scoring load LeBron concentrated on becoming a facilitator and led the league in assist (10.2) for the first time in his career.
LeBron also bought into Frank Vogel’s coaching and dedicated himself to team defense helping the Lakers jump up to third in defensive rating (106.3) from 12th last year (109.5). Perhaps LeBron’s most difficult moment of the season was having to take on the leadership mantle of the franchise when Lakers great Kobe Bryant died in a helicopter accident in late January.
LeBron became the spokesman for the players helping the team and city collectively grieve. When the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league again LeBron was the team leader keeping his teammates ready for what was to come in the “bubble playoffs.”
All LeBron did was take the Lakers to a 16-5 record and their 17th NBA title while winning his 4th NBA Finals MVP. LeBron closed out the Miami Heat with a triple-double (28/10/14) proving once again that he was the best player in the world.
In the NBA LeBron may have put himself above all even Michael Jordan leading a third different team to an NBA title the first time a player was named FInals MVP for a third team. As a Laker, LeBron has put himself along with the greats.
LeBron can now be included along with the likes of George Mikan, Jerry West, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, and yes Kobe Bryant. By fulfilling the championship dreams that Lakers fans are accustomed to this title puts LeBron among the greats in purple and gold.
After the title win, LeBron asked:
“We just want our respect. 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.”
Lakers fans have to recognize for LeBron James the mission is accomplished, respect won.