The Cleveland Cavaliers are underdogs heading into the 2017 NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, despite winning the title last year. Does that bother LeBron James? Does he get an extra bit of motivation from the challenge of proving doubters wrong? That’s something James was asked ahead of Game 1.
And his answer was outstanding.
— NBA TV (@NBATV) June 1, 2017
James also recently said the challenge of beating Michael Jordan’s mark of six titles isn’t an extra motivator for him. For him, it’s about creating his own legacy rather than chasing Jordan.
“It has nothing to do with passing him in rings, passing him in points, passing him in MVPs. (Chasing his ghost) is just my personal goal to keep me motivated,” James said, via Michael Singer of USA Today Sports. “That’s all, you guys going to have the conversations about who’s the greatest of all time, things of that nature. It doesn’t matter to me.”
It’s easy to be skeptical about these statements and wonder if LeBron James doesn’t use the comparisons to Jordan and constantly being viewed as an underdog as extra motivation.
But given his track record of playing at his best when it matters most, we can’t really doubt James’ words, either. For a guy who’s had the spotlight on him since he entered the NBA as an 18-year-old rookie fresh out of high school, he’s lived up to the hype and then some.
And we must say, the promotion he speaks of suits him nicely. James is the best in the business, and he’s a consummate professional on top of his on-court achievements.
The bottom line is this: he really doesn’t have anything left to prove. If his career ended before the 2017 NBA Finals, he’d still be considered one of the game’s all-time greats. Everything he achieves from here on out is just gravy.