LeBron James threw a punch to his critics and the LA Lakers critics after winning a fourth NBA championship and helping the franchise a record-breaking 17th title overall.
James led the Miami Heat on Sunday night, recording a triple double with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers won the game 106-93 to claim a 4-2 victory in the NBA bubble at Walt Disney World in Florida.
The 35-year-old star was named Finals MVP for the fourth time, winning the title with a third other team after championships with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013 and the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016.
It was a first NBA crown for the Lakers in a decade as they eventually finished 17th overall to make their all-time list with the Boston Celtics.
James did the feat in his sophomore season with the team after suffering the disappointment of not even making the playoffs in his first season in LA.
This initial failure smeared the wheels of a narrative that speculated the Lakers had wasted their efforts building the team around a star over the hill.
James seemed to answer this suggestion in his post-game interview on Sunday night.
“We just want our respect. Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect. Trainer [Frank] Vogel wants his respect. Our organization wants your respect. Laker Nation wants their respect. And I want my bloody respect, too, “James explained.
At the beginning of the playoffs, James was annoyed about being caught for the NBA MVP Award in favor of Milwaukee Bucks striker Giannis Antetokounmpo, which he apparently saw as a sign of disrespect.
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On Sunday, the Lakers won their first championship since Kobe Bryant led them to fame in 2010, which many considered a fitting tribute after Bryant died in a helicopter crash with his daughter Gianna in January.
“For the Lakers nation, we went through a heartbreaking tragedy with the loss of our loved ones Kobe Bryant and Gianna,” said Lakers owner Jeanie Buss.
“Let this trophy be a reminder, when we come together, believe in one another, that incredible things can happen.”
James became the first player in NBA history to be named Finals MVP with three different teams, moving closer to Michael Jordan’s all-time Finals MVP record of six.
Laker Nation, LeBron James made up for his guarantee that he would bring the @Lakers to the NBA finals and bring Lakers fans around the world a championship. Mission accomplished @KingJames !!
– Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) October 12, 2020