- LeBron James is trying to make an eighth straight NBA Finals with what many consider to be a weaker supporting cast.
- The former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager David Griffin says that if James makes the Finals this year, it would be “the truest testament to his greatness.”
- Griffin said James overcoming the mental and physical tolls of so many Finals runs would be “unprecedented.”
Throughout NBA history, across the league, players, coaches, and executives warn about the fatigue of making multiple Finals runs.
It’s why the Golden State Warriors, now attempting to make a fourth straight Finals, eased off the gas a bit more this season. The Warriors’ head coach, Steve Kerr, who made multiple Finals runs as a player with the Chicago Bulls in the 1990s, continually said it would be a difficult year for his team.
The fatigue that comes with playing from October to June every year, and then picking back up the next fall, only makes LeBron James’ accomplishments more impressive.
James has made seven straight NBA Finals, winning three of them. He hasn’t had a season end before June since 2010.
This year, he’s attempting to make an eighth straight Finals with a considerably less impressive Cleveland Cavaliers squad. The former Cavs general manager David Griffin, who oversaw the previous three Finals runs, told Business Insider that if James makes the Finals this year, it may be his greatest accomplishment yet.
“If he makes it to the Finals this year with the group he has, it’ll be the truest testament to his greatness,” Griffin said. “Because, mentally, to be able to grind and do the things he’s had to do, if he were to do it eight years in a row, it would just be truly unprecedented.”
The Cavs had a turbulent year, going through a major midseason shake-up when the team seemed on the verge of falling apart. Since February, the Cavs have integrated four new rotation players while dealing with injuries and unforeseen circumstances, like head coach Ty Lue taking a leave of absence.
“I think this year in particular because there’s been so much turmoil, because it’s been such an unsteady year in some ways emotionally, it would be an even bigger feat mentally than it ever has been,” Griffin said.
In his 15th season, James boosted his scoring, rebounding, and assist averages from last year, while maintaining near-career-best efficiency from the field. While the Cavs are a deep team with useful role players, they lack a secondary scorer like Kyrie Irving, who frequently helped out James in the playoffs in past seasons. This year, the Cavs were extra-reliant on James to do all of the heavy lifting.
Part of his continued greatness has been his dedication to taking care of his body. A recent ESPN report said James’ annual body care reached seven figures.
As the playoffs begin, James is going to have to be extra diligent in staying prepared. Even those who have worked with him say this year may be his greatest challenge yet.