Jerry West recently came to the defense of LeBron James amid the media scrutiny of James’ Finals record. While James is appearing in his seventh Finals, he has only amassed a 2-4 record. James’ shortcomings have been a big talking point as he is now in danger of falling to 2-5 depending on the outcome of this year’s series. After last year’s Finals loss, James said he would rather not make the playoffs if it meant getting to the Finals and losing.
James says his record doesn’t bother him, but the media’s constant acknowledgement of his failures can’t be something he’s deaf to.
The media’s obsession of James’ 2-4 record has a lot to do with the constant comparisons to Michael Jordan, who is 6-0 in the Finals.
James may be the best player since Jordan, but his teams have not always been championship level. For all his greatness, James has only had a 50 percent chance of winning in three of his Finals appearances. He’s also never played for a team with more than a 2-in-3 chance of winning. Three of the teams he competed with had less than a 33 percent chance. These teams include the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Spurs in 2007 and the Warriors in 2015, and the Miami Heat against the Spurs in 2014. Because of this, it’s just not sensible to harp on his record.
Jerry West on critics of LeBron’s Finals record: “That’s the most ridiculous thing. If I were him, I’d want to strangle you guys.”
— Stefan Bondy (@SBondyNYDN) June 4, 2016
That’s not to say that his Finals record is insignificant. After all, the 2010-2011 Miami Heat team should have beaten the Dallas Mavericks in the Finals that year. James’ disappearing act was the biggest reason his team failed to win it all.
Outside of that Finals loss, James has played well in all other appearances and has done everything in his power to will his teams. Unfortunately, it just hasn’t always worked to his benefit.
West’s recent defense of James seems appropriate considering his own history. West has gone to the Finals nine times and has a 1-8 record.
He knows better than anyone the criticism James faces. West just wants us to recognize that despite James’ uneven record, we are still witnessing greatness.