LeBron James Joins the Mount Olympus of American Sports

I’m a day or so late in getting to this but, as everyone on the planet knows, the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title, 4-3 in games, after being down, 1-3, and coming back to take it with three straight wins, two on the road. What about Golden State, which was 73-9 in the regular season, an NBA record for wins? Well, they may have put too much energy into that and just ran out of fuel at the end. Then, Steph Curry was banged up a bit, as the NBA plays … my opinion … too many games and their stars get worn down, beat up and mentally drained.

The series? No question, right up there with the very best NBA Finals ever for drama. I was asked, by La Gazzetta dello Sport, to list the 10 greatest NBA Finals ever … for drama. I had the 1957 final between the Boston Celtics and the St. Louis Hawks, which the Celtics took, 4-3, with the 7th game being decided, 125-123, after two overtimes, on a last-second shot by Frank Ramsey. Well, put this series right up there at that level an Kyrie Irving’s three near the end of Game 7 was every bit as important and dramatic as Ramsey’s. Definitely not for the faints of heart.

I wrote a front-page piece for La Gazzetta yesterday, on LeBron James. I put him in a Mount Olympus of American Sports Stars that transcended their sport: Babe Ruth, Jackie Robinson and Joe DiMaggio in Baseball; George Mikan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Julius Erving, Michael Jordan and Jerry West in Basketball; Red Grange, Bronko Nagurski, Don Hutson, Otto Graham, Dick Butkus, Gale Sayers in Football; jockeys Eddie Arcaro and Willie Shoemaker and horses Man O’War, Seabiscuit and Secretariat in horse racing.

Then, Johnny Weissmuller, Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps in Swimming; Bill Tilden, Jack Kramer and John McEnroe in Tennis. Well, put Le Bron in that elite category. He’s one of the few stars to win NBA titles with two different teams, along with men like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Walton and Slater Martin. He put Cleveland back on the Sports Map of the USA. He was Mr. Steady, Mr. Team and Mr. Clutch. His game-saving blocked shot was an X-Ray of what he is: talent, moment, champion. Is he the best ever? Better than Michael Jordan? Tough call.

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Dan Peterson

Dan Peterson

Long-time Head Coach of Olimpia Milano in the Italian Serie A1