In 2007, a 22-year LeBron James led his Cleveland Cavaliers squad into the NBA Finals against the Tim Duncan-led Spurs and were promptly swept away in a flurry of low-post moves and blocked shots. The series win gave Duncan his fourth title ring.
On Thursday night, the two meet in the Finals yet again. James has since managed to win his first ring, albeit with a new team, and now his Heat look for back-to-back titles.
The Heats’ quest to lift the trophy again will not be easy. As King James sees it, in order for Miami to come out on top, the Heat are going to have to overcome the efforts of the most dominant player of the last 15 years.
This from ASAP Sports Transcripts:
Q. LeBron, to that end, as a student of NBA history, how do you think Tim will ultimately be regarded in this era as one of the players of this era? How do you think he’ll be viewed?
LeBRON JAMES: Probably one of the best players to ever play the game of basketball. If I just look at the last 15 years, he’s probably been the most consistent, most dominant player that we’ve had as far as 15 years all together. He’s won four titles, multiple All Stars, MVP, and so on and so on.
I think he doesn’t get a lot of recognition because he’s not flashy like a lot of guys are. He’s not jumping over people and high-flying and doing the things that attracts people to the game. But I think true basketball, true IQ people, players know how great he is. What else can you say?
If you are one to rank domination on championships, Kobe Bryant would take that crown, having won five to Duncan’s four.
However, the argument could be made the Bryant needed a dominant big man to help him get to those titles (Shaq first and then Pau Gasol later), whereas Duncan is the big man who led the Spurs to theirs.
We are not trying to take a side here. Instead we are merely pointing out the fact that Duncan, nearing the end of his 16th season in the league, is in extremely rarefied air.
And LeBron James understands exactly that.