On Sunday night, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James showed once again why is the best player on the planet after beating the Boston Celtics in the Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals to make his eight straight appearances in the NBA Finals. The departure of Kyrie Irving last summer and playing on a dysfunctional team didn’t prevent James from fully dominating the East, and there is no doubt that he deserves the praises and appreciations he’s currently receiving right now.
However, there are still some who don’t recognize how great LeBron James is, especially this season. In an appearance on ESPN’s First Take, Stephen A. Smith gave his own reaction on the Cavaliers’ Game 7 victory over the Celtics.
“One of the greatest gifts that LeBron James had this year is luck,” Smith told Max Kellerman. “That is right. L-U-C-K. I’ll spell it out for you. Luck.”
Smith believes James’ road to the 2018 NBA Finals is not as hard as anyone thinks. The ESPN analyst explained to Kellerman that the Cavaliers just faced a “baby” Indiana Pacers in the first round, who were led by Victor Oladipo. Smith called Oladipo a rising star but said that it was his first time to become the number option on the team.
In the second round, LeBron James and the Cavaliers battled against the Toronto Raptors. Unlike the Pacers, the Raptors have been a major contender in the East for the past seasons, and they are led by two NBA All-Stars, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The Raptors may have been the Eastern Conference No. 1 seed, but Smith said that they were not a threat to the Cavaliers at all.
In the past three seasons, the Cavaliers have been blocking the way of the Raptors’ road to the NBA Finals. The last two years were more embarrassing as the Raptors were swept by James, both in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. Lastly, in the Eastern Conference Finals, Smith reminded Kellerman that the Celtics forced a Game 7 against the reigning Eastern Conference Champions despite the absence of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward on the team.
ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith does have a point when he said LeBron James had luck this year. However, there are a lot of unfortunate things that happened before the Cavaliers made their fourth straight NBA Finals appearances. Before the February deadline, the Cavaliers were forced to blowout their roster. Their newest acquisitions struggled to make themselves fit in Cleveland, resulting in bad chemistry until the postseason.
In Game 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love, who is considered their second best player. Despite going through lots of ups and downs, James still managed to carry his team back to the NBA Finals, and no one can hear him blaming his teammates for their past struggles. James may really have received luck this season, but it’s his hard work and determination that led them to their recent playoff success.