The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are on a collision course for the NBA Finals in what would be the third straight year. LeBron James, however, has made six straight appearances in the NBA Finals and is going for his seventh straight this season.
Ahead of their meeting against the Denver Nuggets, Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr spoke with J.A. Adande of ESPN where he discussed just how much of a toll last season was for his team as well as the admiration for LeBron James’ accomplishments.
“The toll was more emotional than anything,” Kerr said. “Over time, that stuff adds up. That’s why LeBron [James] going to the Finals six straight years is, to me, one of the great accomplishments of all time. Like, how many guys have done that? Maybe Bill Russell was the last guy. I know Michael didn’t do it because he took a couple of years off. Larry Bird, Magic [Johnson] never did it. … Six is incredible.”
James reached four NBA Finals with the Miami Heat, as well as two straight with the Cleveland Cavaliers after returning home. It’s easily one of the greater accomplishments seen in NBA history, but the four Finals losses always seem to take away from the fact that James has represented the East in the Championship round six straight times.
What everyone seems to forget is the amount of work James puts in year-in and year-out to stay in top-shape for the regular season as well as preserve himself enough for the the postseason. It has proven effective, as James has put up unbelievable numbers in the Finals the past two years regardless of who was on his team.
In 2015, without all-star teammates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, James put up 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and 1.3 steals per game on 40% shooting from the field and 31% from downtown. With Irving and Love for the 2016 Finals, James put up 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds 8.9 assists, 2.6 steals, and 2.3 blocks per game on 49% shooting and 37% from downtown.
Kerr won three consecutive championships with the Chicago Bulls from 1996-1998, but remains more impressed that James’ six, potentially seven, straight NBA Finals appearances by the end of this year.