The LA Lakers led by LeBron James and his former team, the Miami Heat, led by Jimmy Butler, will contest the 2020 NBA finals.
The Lakers beat the Denver Nuggets 4-1 to claim the Western Conference title while the Heat prevailed over the Boston Celtics 4-2 to win the Eastern title.
The NBA overlooked Mr James for the league’s MVP award, but his greatness will be further enhanced if he leads the Lakers to the title– making him just the first NBA player to achieve the feat for three different franchises.
It will also be his 10th finals in 11 years, in which he has won three titles–two with the Heat and the third with his hometown team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For the Heat, the go-to player has been Mr Butler, who had been looking for a team to lead and thrive in since he was named the 30th draft pick in 2011.
Mr Butler has played on the rosters of the Chicago Bulls, the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the Philadelphia 76ers–spending one season apiece with the Timberwolves and 76ers. Finally, he is where he is appreciated and does the work that is now getting noticed.
Messrs James and Butler have the same course, having to always prove the doubters wrong. Many have argued against the greatness or otherwise of Mr James while Mr Butler continues to be denigrated as not being a great player.
Lakers’ teammate, Danny Green, labelled Mr James “the greatest player in the goddamn world.” Frank Vogel, the Lakers coach, added: “I don’t know if I’ve ever witnessed a guy take over the fourth quarter of a game in person, possession after possession after possession.”
For Mr Butler, stating the truth is that to win a championship ring, his team has to deal with the great threat that is Mr James.
Speaking after helping the Heat to its first final in six years (the last time they got there was with James), Mr Butler said, “The main key, and it’s been like this for a very long time, if you want to win, you’re going to have to go through a LeBron James-led team.
“At the end of the day, that’s what it normally comes down to, and that’s what we got to focus on. Honestly, we can’t just focus on him because he has so many really good players around him. But you’re going to get the same test over and over again until you pass it. That test is LeBron James.”