This is about to get as petty as petty can be and ya know what? I do not care. Watching LeBron James lose in the finals is one of the few joys I get as a basketball fan considering my favorite team is a one-man army surrounded by the most out-of-place 2017 roster imaginable, and my “hometown” team is the league’s biggest hopeless dumpster fire East of Sacramento.
LeBron has now lost 5 NBA finals in his career completing his journey to being the complete antithesis to Kobe Bryant. I’m going to rank them from the least to most enjoyable. The first couple are pretty easy, but the list gets harder as it gets tighter.
5) 2007 vs the San Antonio Spurs
My LeBron hatred wasn’t really a fully developed thing yet and I’m not sure I watched more than 10 minutes of any of this trash. Only one game reached 170 points which is bananas considering the totals of this year’s games. I hardly even noticed this series so not a whole lot to say.
4) 2017 vs the Golden State Warriors
Don’t get me wrong, a great sense of jubilation took me over watching LeBron come to accept defeat with about 5 minutes left in the 4th – a trademark of his. However, there was no joy watching these Warriors win. The “comeback” angle does nothing for me whe the biggest crux of that comeback was the addition of a top-three player. Combine that with the emptiness brought on by beating the Kawhi-less Spurs, and it was frankly hard to want the Warriors to win – the only emotion was wanting to see the Cavs lose.
Durant’s decision to jump to the 73-win team that overcame a 3-1 deficit to beat him the previous season was 100% the right move for the things he apparently considers to be important – spoiler: he doesn’t give a single fuck about the fans or their #HotTakes. The Warriors played beautiful basketball, and I can appreciate that, but there needs to be a balance with competitiveness. I enjoy the NBA significantly more than college basketball, but the NCAA tournament is the best 2-3 weeks in sports because of the competitive nuclear warhead upset that can drop at any moment.
3) 2015 vs the Golden State Warriors
These top-3 are pretty hard and I’ve flipped them a few times, but I’m going to go with 2015 as the least enjoyable because of the circumstances that I had to watch these games. Generally I was crippled over in a hangover or sitting at my desk giving my computer e-AIDS trying to watch an illegal stream. Those Australian time differences are real nifty. With that said, this series did have a special meaning to me as Andre Iguodala is my favorite player of the modern era. Getting to see Iggy earn a finals MVP award while being matched up against the player I hate the most in the league was special.
For that reason I wanted to rank this higher, but since this is a petty-hate blog, I want to really embrace the better. Watching the Heat lose was infinitely more enjoyable than the City of Cleveland receiving yet another punch in the dick.
2) 2011 vs the Dallas Mavericks
This was delicious and if it weren’t for some other circumstances, this might be #1. Watching Rick Carlisle put LeBron and Wade’s heads in constant pretzels using the corpses of Jason Kidd and Shawn Marion to do so is something I’ll never forget. You had Jason Terry dropping bombs, Tyson Chandler convincing people he was a top-flight center in the NBA, and of course, Dirk going on one of the most dominant stretches of basketball in playoff history.
This was year-1 with the Heat and to see a total underdog roll them up and throw their corny asses into the trash was euphoric. What people forget is that the Heat actually had a 2-1 lead before the Mavs ripped off three straight to close them out. It only delayed the inevitable, but the extra year of ringless-LeBron jokes made the world a better place.
1) 2014 vs the San Antonio Spurs
Yeah, this was the best. The Spurs were 5 seconds away from beating the Heat in 2013 before some of the most unlucky bounces ever earned LeBron back-to-back titles. Though his legacy was already fairly rock solid at this point, Timmy D moving to 2-1 against Bronbron was poetic. Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard made his first appearance to the world as a defensive force with a developing offensive game.
The Spurs rolled the Heat in a completely uncompetitive series, almost even moreso than this last one. Notwithstanding a game-2 loss, the Spurs beat the Heat by 15 in game 1, 19 in game 3, 21 in game 4, and 17 in a closeout game 5. I was spending the summer in Ann Arbor and was fortunate enough to be out and about for most of these games surrounded by other drunk idiots takin the same about of weird pleasure in a group of men failing to reach their goals.
This was also the series that led LeBron to thinking his Heat window had closed and him ditching them the next offseason to go back to Cleveland. The Miami Heat run was so obnoxious for what they did, and their move to all band together is what has led to a new mindset of NBA players. If you can’t beat them, join them. “Fight harder? Nah, couldn’t be me” – Most top-level free agents now.
So last night was pretty great. All of my bets on the game hit, Riley Curry made an appearance, and Javale McGee got to celebrate a ring in LeBron’s face. That’s pretty cool. At the end of the day though, I know he doesn’t care, his life is infinitely better than pretty much anyone’s, but sometimes you have to take little victories. This was one.