In the end, despite all the magnificence, magic, and transcendent talent that LeBron James was still capable of, two things prevented him from winning on Monday night.
The Nuggets of Denver. along with time’s inescapable pull.
Los Angeles Lakers were determined to dominate in spite of scoring 31 points in the first half, 21 of which came in the opening period. despite an incredible performance that included 40 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals, and just 1 turnover.
Despite the 38-year-old’s age-defying defensive mastery against Jamal Murray late in the fourth quarter, when the clock was running out on the game and the season, which nearly went his team’s way.
The 2016 Finals version of LeBron’s hunger and skill, a throwback to a younger star’s game coming from a body of an old man at least in basketball years, was summoned despite all of this, but it was not enough.
Los Angeles 111, Denver 113
a 4-0 victory.
LeBron is also considering retiring.
Thanks to Nikola Jokic’s unique brand of basketball brilliance, the Denver Nuggets have reached their first NBA Finals. He had 30 points, 14 rebounds, and 13 assists in total.
Jamal Murray also demonstrated the extent of his star power. He scored 25 points in the final game despite being compelled by the Lakers to forgo the three-point shot due to the pressure of the situation.
It was a complete performance by a complete basketball team, one with depth and hustle, those stars but also role players who could step up when needed, one that handled Jokic’s unexpected foul trouble in the fourth quarter, the desperation of a Lakers team trying to avoid the end of the season, and that all-time great reaching deeper than he may have ever had before.
Tough realities pierced LeBron’s personal excellence on this night and throughout his career. Despite the incredible play, it was difficult to avoid the realization that this night’s conclusion—that the end is close and his own fiery basketball desire and will to win are no longer sufficient—is that the end is near.
James admitted after the defeat, “I’ve got a lot to think about. I have a lot to consider individually moving ahead with the game of basketball.
Even legends that reach the pinnacle of their desire eventually fall short due to their own advancing years and the rise of a young, ambitious club like the Nuggets.
The attention on both LeBron’s dominance and his limitations was sharpened by seeing everything in such striking contrast, including the brilliance and the weight of it, the talent and the tiredness, the end product and yet the final score.
A GOAT cannot be swept in a playoff series, for example, and those who engage in the absurdity of trying to claim otherwise are missing the point. A GOAT, or a would-be GOAT, can undoubtedly resemble a 38-year-old who came dangerously close to lifting his team with an individual streak of greatness few on earth could ever do, let alone so close to 40 — as his muscles ached, his chest heaved, and as he fought simultaneously against this formidable Denver team and his own aging body.
Games like these and balls both tell the truth.
LeBron then settled in to do it himself despite the evident discomfort as he accepted that Anthony Davis could not help them. Davis would go 6-of-15 for the night, and while his box score of 21 points and 14 rebounds might look excellent, his performance during this game did not.
LeBron attempted to do at the conclusion what he had done at the beginning: assume full responsibility.
LeBron James received the ball with four seconds left on the clock, the Lakers behind by two. He went for the rim. The devoted Lakers fans yelled and hoped. It was not to be, though. The Nuggets celebrated, the buzzer sounded, Aaron Gordon made the biggest block of his life, and that was it.
However, this was not a failure, at least not in LeBron James’ eyes. It was inevitable that an all-time great would lose to a greater squad, his will to win would remain unwavering, and he would eventually realize that time passes for everyone, including him on this particular night and in the end.