How many rings does LeBron James have? There’s a question that’ll continue to pop-up in sports arguments all over the world until the NBA season starts up again.
LeBron James won his fourth ring and led the Lakers to their 17th championship. But what exactly does it mean for his legacy?
How many rings does LeBron James have? Let’s count ’em up.
LeBron’s fourth ring cements him as basketball’s GOAT. He now has 10 finals appearances, including eight in a row from 2011-2018, four Finals MVPs along with four regular-season MVPs, and 16 first-team selections which are the most by any player.
He has routinely carried historically weak teams like the Cavalier teams in 2007 and 2018 to the NBA Finals. While many like to use his losses as reasons for why he can’t be the GOAT, it’s actually why his case may be stronger than Jordans.
LeBron is the best floor-raiser in NBA history. This means that with LeBron on your team, the floor of your team is a championship contender. LeBron has never been eliminated in the first round.
In the three seasons he missed the playoffs, two came in his first two seasons and the third came in his first year with the Lakers, when he was hurt. At the time of his injury the Lakers were the 4th seed.
Jordan’s case as the GOAT is perfection.
He has six championships in six chances, including two three-peats. However, he played in 15 seasons only managing to make the finals six times, and had the benefit of taking a year and a half off in the prime of his career.
He made the playoffs three times with a record under .500. James lost in the first round three times and missed the playoffs twice. He also played in an era that saw six new expansion teams, which made the talent pool around the league even weaker than it was.
Is LeBron James a true sports legend, tho?
LeBron has now played in 17 seasons and has 10 finals appearances. An argument many make is that LeBron played in a weak Eastern Conference. While it is partly true, it ignores a couple of facts.
He is the reason for many teams falling apart including the Pistons who had been to six straight conference finals, the big 3 Celtics, the Derrick Rose Bulls, and the Paul George Pacers.
LeBron has faced off against better teams in the Finals than Jordan as well. Jordan’s best competitor is between an old Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Clyde Drexler.
LeBron faced off against Tim Duncan (3 times), Kevin Durant (3 times), Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry(4 times), and Dirk Nowitzki. The talent is just better than it was in the ’90s.
LeBron also has some of the most unique championships in NBA history. The 2016 3-1 comeback against the Warriors, who had the best regular-season record of all-time at 73-9, was the only 3-1 comeback in Finals history.
Why that fourth ring means so much…
LeBron’s fourth ring comes after a pandemic paused the season mid-way, and forced the NBA to play in a bubble for the first time ever.
The only blemish on LeBron’s career is his 2011 performance and loss to the underdog Dallas Mavericks. He struggled throughout the series and especially in 4th quarters.
However, as he says so himself, the loss was crucial for him to learn how to win.
LeBron presence on any roster instantly makes them a title contender, even at age 35. By the time he retires he’ll most likely be the NBA’s all-time leading scorer, with over 10,000 assists and rebounds. He’ll be the only player in NBA history to have those numbers.
LeBron’s fourth ring only strengthens his argument as the best to ever play the sports. Many will still argue he is behind Jordan, but with LeBron at age 35 and still playing like he’s in his prime, he will only continue to add to his resume and continue to make history.