The Los Angeles Lakers became NBA Champions this weekend after defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.
The Los Angeles Lakers became NBA champions this past Sunday, giving the team their 17th title and tying them up with the Boston Celtics for the most championship wins in NBA history. This is the first time the Lakers have made it to the NBA finals since 2010 when the late Kobe Bryant won his fifth and final NBA title.
For LeBron James, the win marks the fourth championship for the basketball star; this was also the 10th time he’s participated in a NBA Final game. Previously, James won titles playing for the Heat in 2012 and 2013 and then again with the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016. This weekend’s win makes him the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff games played; 260. He was able to finalize the night with a triple-double play, and was named NBA Finals MVP for the fourth time in his career.
James is the first player in history to earn NBA Finals MVP with three different teams, and only Michael Jordan has won more MVP titles with six. For James, playing the historic night and season has been an unforgettable experience, and he’s ready for him and his team to get the respect they deserve, claiming in a post-game interview on the court that “Laker nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect, too.”
“For me to be a part of such a historical franchise is an unbelievable feeling, not only for myself but for my teammates, for the organization, for the coaches, for the trainers, everybody that’s here.”
On March 11th, Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert tested positive for Covid-19, causing the NBA to postpone that night’s game, which led to a ripple effect of cancellations until the entire season was postponed indefinitely. In June, around the same time that the NBA Finals would typically be taking place, the league announced they would be completing the season in a “bubble” at the Walt Disney World Resort.
This “bubble” entailed quarantining, using isolated campus’ to hold games, practices, and residencies for 22 of the NBA’s 30 teams. Overall, the plan was a success, as there were no major Covid-19 outbreaks inside the bubble throughout the entire rest of the season. Pandemic aside, however, the players knew they had a whole other pandemic they had a moral responsibility to speak up about; social and racial injustice.
For James specifically, he knew he had to become a leader among the sport’s most influential players to set an agenda for all professional sports in the US. “Black Lives Matter” was proudly painted across the courts used in the bubble while players wore various clothing items evoking the same message. Many coaches, players, and referees would also participate by kneeling during the national anthem. Then, on August 23rd, amid all of the nation’s month-long protests demanding police reform, Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot seven times in the back as he tried to enter his vehicle. The reaction to this incident almost completely cancelled the NBA season after players announced they’d be striking by not participating in the playoffs until justice was served.
“Even though we live in a small piece of the game of basketball, there are so many bigger things and so many greater things going on. If you can make an impact or you can make a change or you can have a vision, it just helps out so much, not only in your community but all over the world.”
James went on to claim that by discussing these social justice movements within the NBA bubble shows the world that there’s true strength in numbers, and those with a platform are just as enraged as the rest of the nation.
“All the social injustice and the voter suppression and so many other things that are just going on. The police brutality and so on and so on and so on. Us being here and having the opportunity to talk about these issues and continuing to understand that this world is not just about basketball.”
The NBA playoffs resumed on August 29th, with the Lakers becoming the top seed in the Western Conference, and the Heat for the Eastern Conference. Miami was able to earn their spot by beating the Indiana Pacers in the first round of playoffs, the top-seeded Bucks in the second round, and finally the highly favored Boston Celtics in the final game to reach the finals against the Lakers.
The Heat was under a lot of pressure after two of their top players, Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo, had to sit out parts of the series for injury reasons. However, they came back with a competitive edge with Jimmy Butler leading the team straight to the finals. By Game 6 Butler was rejoined by Adebayo and Dragic, the three made the team a force to be reckoned with.
As of right now it is still unclear as to when the 2020-2021 NBA season will begin, however, league commissioner Adam Silver believes it will likely begin in January 2021.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at email@example.com.