The 35-year-old played a crucial role in his team’s victory.
A 10th NBA Finals appearance for LeBron James and first in a decade for LA Lakers is what happened late Saturday night as Lakers earned a comfortable 117-107 win against Denver Nuggets in Game 5 to win Western Conference Finals 4-1.
This will also be Lakers’ 32nd NBA Finals, most in the history of the competition. Lakers, who last won a championship in 2010 with Kobe Bryant, now have a chance to equal the tally of 17 titles, a record held by their arch-rivals Boston Celtics who are also contesting for a place in the Finals.
James was an unstoppable juggernaut with 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on 15-for-25 shooting in Game 5, all this in his 17th NBA season. Anthony Davis’ 27 points were the icing on the cake. For Nuggets, Nikola Jokic and Jerami Grant each scored 20 points.
“My teammates said to bring us home and it was my responsibility to try to make the right plays and do the right things on the floor to help us win ball games,” said James during a trophy presentation.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel lavished praise on James. He remarked, “I just feel like he has had a chip on his shoulder all year long. Everybody has doubters and to be in the Eastern Conference and get there as much as he had and now to come over the Western Conference and to do it with a third team is just an enormous accomplishment. So much respect and love for him. He has empowered this whole group by buying into the plan we had and how we wanted to play this year.”
The 47-year-old also showed admiration for his opponents and said “I have so much respect for Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic and all of their players and their whole program. They are so tight together and connected.” His counterpart Michael Malone also hailed LeBron James as one of the greatest of all time.
“If you just step back and marvel at what LeBron is doing at this stage of his career, how he finds ways to improve and get better and take whatever team he is on to new heights, that defines his greatness. He is one of the greatest ever to do it and his resume speaks for itself,” Malone concluded.