Sportress of Blogitude

LeBron James says he’d rather miss the playoffs than lose in the Finals


Despite a superhuman and historic effort as he attempted to will his undermanned, injury-depleted squad to an unlikely NBA championship, LeBron James’ celebrated return home to Ohio ended with a thud as the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 6 to the Golden State Warriors on their home court by a score of 105-97.

After watching the Warriors celebrate their first NBA title since 1975 on the Quicken Loans Arena court, James contemplated and discussed all that has transpired since he announced last summer he would be returning to the Cavaliers. Among the many enlightening things an exhausted James had to say in the wake of heartbreaking loss is that he insists he would prefer not making the playoffs at all rather than lose in the Finals, which is something with which he is all-too-familiar, as he is now 2-4 in the championship series.

When asked if he can feel satisfied with how things played out — after all the hard work, effort and commitment — despite coming up short, James made it clear that is not the case.

Well, of course you question it, especially when you get to this point,” James said, as transcribed by Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Scott Patsco. “I always look at it would I rather not make the playoffs or lose in The Finals?  I don’t know.  I don’t know.  I’ve missed the playoffs twice.  I lost in The Finals four times.  I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in The Finals.  It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it.”

James then admitted in the next breath that he does realize “how fun it is to compete during the playoffs and the first round, the second round, and Eastern Conference Finals,” before adding, “If I’m lucky enough to get here again, it will be fun to do it.”

James couldn’t have done much more in the NBA Finals to lead the Cavs to the title. He averaged 35.8 points, 8.8 assists and 13.3 rebounds over the six-game series, becoming the first player in NBA history to lead both teams in those statistical categories.

Had James been provided more support from the depleted lineup — and even more so had Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love played — the Finals could have been a completely different series, something he acknowledged.

“I don’t know any other team ‑‑ I’ve been watching basketball for a long time,” he said. “I’m an historian of the game.  I don’t know any other team that’s gotten to The Finals without two All‑Stars.  I cannot remember thinking of it.  I can’t remember in the back ‑‑ I don’t even know if it’s ever happened, for a team to lose two All‑Stars and still be able to make it to The Finals.”

No matter what happens with Love and his future with the Cavaliers, the mere presence of a healthy Irving alone next season makes James’ team a favorite to reach the Finals again next season. And if that happens, perhaps James will make good on his destiny of delivering the championship-starved city of Cleveland an NBA title.

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