CAMERON CROCHERON- STAFF WRITER
LeBron James led the Lakers with game-highs in points and assists en route to his fourth career Finals MVP Award while finishing with his 11th career triple-double in the Finals, the most in NBA history. Anthony Davis had a double-double, totaling 19 points and 15 rebounds as he made his defensive presence known once again by holding Jimmy Butler to only 12 points.
“We just want our respect, Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect, Coach [Frank] Vogel wants his respect, our organization wants their respect, Laker nation wants their respect and I want my damn respect, too,” James told tele- vision reporters during the NBA Finals trophy ceremony.
Capping off the longest season in NBA history, the Lakers have now tied the Boston Celtics for the most championships as a franchise in league history.
“For me to be part of such a historical franchise, it’s an unbelievable feeling not only for myself but for my teammates, for the organization, for the coaches, for the trainers, everybody that’s here,” James told TV reporters.
The Miami Heat exceeded many people’s expectations, walking into the playoffs as the 5th seed in the East and having had 60-to-1 preseason odds to win the NBA Finals, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“So what that nobody picked you to be here, that’s OK, I’m sure pretty sure nobody’s picking us to win either,” Butler said in a news conference. “We embrace that.”
Throughout the playoffs, the Heat put on a show, defeating two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks in five games and Jayson Tatum and the Celtics in six games. Yet, going into the Finals, many people didn’t even give the Heat a chance against the Lakers based on their lack of experience and the team’s build.
“To upset the Lakers, I give them a 0 percent chance, it’s not happening,” NBA champion Kendrick Perkins said on ESPN’s “First Take.” “The depth of Miami’s bigs is not enough to overpower the Lakers.”
The Heat managed to steal two games in the series as both stemmed from outstanding performances by Butler, but injuries proved to play a major role in the series. Ultimately, two of the Heat’s best players went down early in the series, resulting in a 2-0 series deficit to start the series. Bam Adebayo and Goran Dragic got injured in Game 1, as both missed substantial parts of the series with Bam out for Games 2 and 3 and Dragic missing Games 2 through 5. Adebayo dealt with multiple upper-body injuries to his shoulder and neck while Dragic suffered a torn plantar fascia. Even through the injuries, the Heat managed to put up a good fight against the talent- ed Lakers through the series.
“The Heat performed as well as they could despite all the injuries, you could tell Bam and Goran weren’t 100 percent but still fought hard to play,” Heat fan Kory Russell-Brown said. Kobe Bryant was a name that remained on the minds of the Lakers organization as they celebrated their 17th NBA title. Through the night, fans took to the streets outside of Staples Center in Los Angeles and began chanting the late, great Bryant’s name.
“Ever since the tragedy, all we wanted to do was do it for him, and we didn’t let him down,” Davis told reporters after the game. “I know he’s looking down on us, proud of us.”