A lot is on the line as usual for those who play in NBA Finals. However, due to the unforeseen circumstances due to the pandemic, this year’s championship is magnified.
The storyline is very simple for this years Finals. LeBron James is looking to win his fourth championship, bringing the Lakers back to the mountaintop. And for the Heat, a group led by Jimmy Butler with tons of young talent alongside veterans who surpassed expectations expenentionaly.
Now to dig deeper and look at the bigger picture that is at hand. What does winning this year’s Finals mean for both franchises, coaches, and players individually?
This Finals appearance marks the Los Angeles Lakers 32nd time battling for the Larry O’Brien trophy. For the Miami Heat, this will be the franchises sixth time in the finals.
The Lakers look to tie the Boston Celtics with the most Finals trophies at 17. The Lakers will be in the finals for the first time since 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant won his fifth ring. The Miami Heat are looking to win their fourth title in team history, first since 2013. Miami’s last appearance in the finals was 2014 when LeBron James was a member of the Heat.
The Lakers have made it clear that they are on a mission to win the title for the late great Kobe Bryant. The players know the significance that this title will bring if they were to win it. Most importantly winning it for the Bryant family. And also for the city of Los Angeles after losing one of its own.
Let’s stack up both coaches resumes.
Erik Spoelstra first began his NBA career as a video coordinator for the Miami Heat in 1995. After two years, he would be promoted to an assistant coach but still keep his position as the team’s video coordinator. He then would be promoted to be the director of scouts while maintaining the position of assistant coach. Spoelstra won his first championship with the Heat in 2006. He would then takeover in 2008 as the Head Coach. In the big three era of Bosh, Wade, and James he would win another two championships in a four year span.
Spoelstra has not made it to the finals since James’ last season in Miami. However in the six years leading up to this moment, he has shown that he is among the top coaches and belongs in the league. Under Spoelstra, the Heat have a record of 567 wins and 392 losses.
If Spoelstra were to lead the Heat to yet another championship, especially without the likes of a superstar, he would be in a class as one of the best coaches of all time. That however can be a debate for another day.
Similar to Spoelstra, Lakers Head Coach Frank Vogel also began his NBA career as a video coordinator for Boston Celtics. Vogel would be apart of the Celtics coaching staff as an assistant. Once leaving Boston, Vogel would be an assistant for both. Ultimately he would have his first head coaching stint with the Pacers. Spending six season with the team. He would then become the Orlando Magic’s head coach. Vogel spent two seasons in Orlando. He would take a year off before landing his current stint with the Lakers.
This will be the fourth time Vogel and Spoelstra face off in the playoffs. Facing each other twice in the Conference Finals and once in the second round. Spoelstra would win the previous three match ups from 2012-2014. But this time LeBron James will be on Vogel’s side. If Vogel can bring home a championship for the Lakers, he would be the fifth coach in Lakers history to win a title.
Win or lose, both rosters have legacies on the line. The Lakers are seen as the favorite by many. All the pressure is built on LeBron James to win his fourth ring.
Some analysts believe that this is James’ easiest path to a title. In spite of this, James isn’t afraid of the pressure. He is focused on getting the job done. The Heat are playing with house money. Nobody expected them to reach the Finals. And with that being the case, look for Miami to play more comfortable and relaxed as they don’t have as much pressure on them.
Los Angeles Lakers
Suppose the Lakers were to lose to Miami, LeBron James will receive a majority of the blame. With analysts nitpicking at any fault the superstar makes. Anthony Davis will face scrutiny as well but not as the same level of LeBron. The expectations for James tend to always to be through the roof. Many who believe James is best player in the world expect him to win with ease. James will see the season as a failure if the Lakers were come up short.
If James and the Lakers do win the title it will be his fourth in 10 attempts. James also has the opportunity to be the first player in NBA history to win Finals MVP on three different teams. Anthony Davis would win his first title and possibly his first NBA Finals MVP. Putting himself among one of the best big men in league history. This may also be a passing of the torch sequence. As James would pass down the Lakers tradition to Anthony Davis as Kobe did with him.
Suppose Miami were to win the title, Jimmy Butler’s legacy will skyrocket through the roof. Entering this year, many labeled Butler as a locker room “cancer”. This is the reason Minnesota and Philadelphia traded away the all star. If he secures a championship, many will see Butler as an entirely new player. Solidifying his case as a potential Hall of Fame inductee when he decides to retire. Bam Adebayo would solidify himself as one of the best if not the best up and coming player in the league if he puts up stellar performances. Goran Dragic will be seen as one of the NBA’s best players to come from Europe and can possibly find himself a Hall of Fame induction if he comes out with a ring.
Here is the NBA Finals schedule.
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