The Los Angeles Lakers toppled the Miami Heat to win the 2020 NBA championship and, given the lopsided nature of Game 6, there was plenty of time for both celebration and debate surrounding LeBron James. James, who was named NBA Finals MVP by a unanimous margin, was dominant during the team’s run to glory, setting up heightened discourse with already established comparisons to Michael Jordan.
Once the initial wave of celebration died down a bit, James and Anthony Davis sat down with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols and, still in the glow of it all, the conversation went in a few interesting directions.
Sat down with LeBron & Anthony Davis for a post-championship conversation – on the partnership that powered the Lakers, whether LeBron wanting some "damn respect" means ranking him over Michael Jordan, plus just how much of a long-term future they both see for themselves in LA: pic.twitter.com/R0zU4cMGRH
— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) October 12, 2020
First, both James and Davis weighed in on the difficulty of the bubble setting, with James calling it “survival of the fittest.” Both also spoke about the challenge of being away from family, with Davis saying it was tough “every night” and James admitting that he asked himself whether the journey was worth it at times.
Later, James was prompted on where we sees himself when compared to Michael Jordan and the greatest of all time debate that has been raging for years.
“That’s not for me to question, or wonder, or debate. I think that’s what you guys will do,” James said. “For me personally, I just have a way that I play the game. I have a way that I lead. I have a way that I challenge my guys and challenge myself. But more importantly, at the end of my career, I just hope I made a lot of people proud, for the way I approach the game. That’s all that matters to me. There’s going to be debates. That’s what it’s all about. We call it barbershop talk. People are going to do it.”
Seconds later, Nichols followed up by asking James about his “I want my damn respect” comment delivered after winning the title.
“At the end of the day, there’s always going to be disrespect,” said James. “There are people that still doubt me, even at this point in my career, and they’re going to continue to do that as long as I put on a uniform, which I’ve realized. But being with (Davis), and being with those other 13 guys on the floor, it doesn’t matter. It drives me, so I appreciate it. But at the end of the day, if I’m making Anthony and my other 13 teammates proud, nothing else matters.”
“You guys know how much I love Michael Jordan,” he continued. “I wear No. 23 because of Michael Jordan. When I first got my first pair of Jordans, you couldn’t tell me nothing. So, y’all can do the debates. Y’all can figure that out.”
Much ink has already been spilled in the hours after the final buzzer, with personalities retreating to their corners in an instant. James is still playing, though, and he has the benefit of additional extra time in adding to a career that is already legendary, from the standpoint of both his peak and the longevity he has enjoyed.
“I don’t know what my future holds,” said James. “The only thing I can do is control the present. I can control what’s going on right now, and I’m happy to be a Laker. I’m happy to be a champion, and that’s all I can say.”