BY CHRIS GOMES
The Los Angeles Lakers have revived their franchise following the retirement and later passing of legendary player Kobe Bryant. On Sunday, October 11, the Lakers won the championship for the 2019-2020 National Basketball Association (NBA) season, with players LeBron James and Anthony Davis at the helm, in a 4-2 series.
With this win, the Lakers claim their first championship since 2010, when Bryant led the team’s battle against the Boston Celtics in seven games. Many fans, and even the Lakers general manager Rob Pelinkatook, took to Twitter to dedicate the 2020 championship to Bryant, who passed earlier in the year due to a tragic helicopter accident.
The 2020 Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) LeBron James became the first NBA player to win such an award with three different franchises: the Miami Heat, the Cleveland Cavaliers and now the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 35-year old James received the unanimous Finals MVP vote after putting up at least 25 points in each of the six games with help from Anthony Davis, who had an equally impressive series boasting great statistics. Davis averaged 25 points, 10 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 2 blocks and 1.3 steals per game in the Finals.
On the other side of the court, the Miami Heat had quite an impressive run despite losing the championship, being the first 5th seed to advance to the Finals. Heat player Jimmy Butler led the team in every major statistical category throughout the championship games, which seemed similar to that of James’s 2016 Finals performance with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Two key injuries seemed to plague the Heat and their team’s Finals performance the most, however. Bam Adebayo, the Heat’s center, suffered a neck strain throughout the series, and Goran Dragic, the Heat’s point guard, suffered from a torn plantar fascia.
These injuries overwhelmingly put the Heat at a disadvantage in a series they were already considered underdogs in. However, Butler continued the “Heat Culture” idea of continuing the battle with maximum effort, making no excuses through the games.
Two key injuries seemed to plague the Heat and their team’s Finals performance the most, however.
The Miami Heat were able to win two games in the series– Game 3 and Game 5– with mainly Butler-oriented offense and defense. Butler was able to post up two triple double stat lines, with 40 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists in Game 3 and 35 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists posted in Game 5. Butler’s will managed to push the Heat to a 6-game series, in a Finals that was widely considered to be a sweep following the injuries.
Throughout the NBA Finals, Butler’s performances were compared to Hall of Famer Allen Iverson, but unfortunately fell short of giving the Heat the championship they desired due to utter dominance from the Laker’s James and Davis.
Both teams and the rest of the NBA look towards the offseason after the conclusion of this year’s championships, yet many questions remain regarding this. The NBA Bubble located in ESPN’s Wide World of Sports existed for more than 100 days, keeping players isolated away from families and friends, but has since closed due to the season’s end. Trades and notable free agents persist, including Anthony Davis for the Lakers and Goran Dragic and Jae Crowder for the Heat.
The NBA timeline as a whole has been thrown off due to the COVID-19 pandemic and an official start date is nowhere to be seen. These situations are yet to be dealt with in the months following the 2020 NBA Finals.
Photo courtesy of NBC Los Angeles