LeBron James after winning his 4th championship and Finals MVP: ‘I want my damn respect’
- LeBron James won his fourth championship and fourth Finals MVP on Sunday.
- After winning Finals MVP, James said, "I want my damn respect."
- James and the Lakers faced some doubts this season, but James proved, even at 35 years old, he is still the most dominant player in the league in the biggest moments.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
On Sunday, LeBron James added to his already-shining legacy, winning his fourth championship, as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Miami Heat, 106-93.
After scoring 28 points, with 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the championship-sealing Game 6, James also won Finals MVP, the fourth of his career.
After the game, during the Lakers' trophy presentation, James delivered a simple message about he and the Lakers getting back to the pinnacle of the sport.
"We just want our respect," James said. "[Lakers GM] Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect. Coach [Frank] Vogel wants his respect. Organization wants their respect. Lakers Nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect, too."
James and the Lakers underwent a dramatic turn-around from 2018-19 to 2019-20. The Lakers missed the playoffs in James' first year with the team. James suffered a groin injury that held him out for nearly a month. The team was undone by trade rumors for Anthony Davis that James was tied to.
They traded much of their young core and several future draft picks for Davis in the offseason, then built a team some in the NBA world lacked talent and cohesion around the two stars.
Meanwhile, preparing to turn 35 in December, James faced doubts about his ability to play at his usual level.
James proved there's still no one else you'd pick above him in the biggest moments
There are legitimate arguments as to whether James is the best player in the NBA — in the regular season.
Giannis Antetokounmpo and Kawhi Leonard are two-way fulcrums on playoff teams. James Harden is an offense unto himself. Anthony Davis may be the Lakers' most impactful player.
But come the postseason, James is still the player to have when the theoretical chips are down.
James averaged 28 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists per game during this championship run. In the Finals, he averaged (rounded to the nearest whole number) 30 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists per game. He turns 36 in just over two months.
There are moments where James' age shows. He can't beat defenders off the dribble quite as easily anymore. Never the NBA's purest shooter, there are moments when James' outside shot betrays him, leaving him looking a bit awkward on the offensive end. His energy wanes a bit — his 36 minutes per game this postseason were the fewest he's averaged in his career. His days of 45-minute nights are over; he simply has to get the rest.
But most of the time, James looks like himself. Whether in the half-court or transition, nobody can slow him down when he gets a step on a defender. He is a master pick-and-roll manipulator. And this year, a renewed focus on the defensive end helped the Lakers become the best defensive team in the NBA over the course of the season.
As Commissioner Adam Silver prepared to present James with the Finals MVP trophy, he said that one day, the trophy would be named after James.
Those who watched these Finals gave James his respect: he was the unanimous Finals MVP.
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