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Los Angeles Lakers capture 17th World Championship

Lebron James selected Finals MVP

City News Service | 10/15/2020, midnight

The Los Angeles Lakers won their record-equaling 17th championship with a 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat on Oct. 11 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals.

LeBron James was selected as the recipient of the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Award. The Laker forward had his lone triple double of the finals Sunday, with 28 points, a game-high 10 assists and 14 rebounds, one short of Anthony Davis’ 15.

The Lakers never trailed Sunday night, becoming the third wire-to-wire victory to clinch an NBA title over the last 50 years, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, the NBA’s official statistician. The others were the 1982 Lakers and 1986 Boston Celtics.

This was James’ fourth championship. He said each of the championships he has won “are all special in their own right.”

“They all have their obstacles, things that went on throughout the course of the year, both on and off the floor,” James said.

“But one is not less than the other, because when you’re able to put yourself in this position to be able to win a championship, first thing you start to think about is how much work you’ve put in over the course of the year.

“How much you’ve sacrificed, how much you’ve dedicated to the game and to your craft. That’s always been the most fulfilling thing for me, besides seeing my teammates as happy as they are.”

The entire playoffs were played at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. because of the coronavirus pandemic. James said at times he “was questioning myself, ‘Should I be here?”’

“Is this worth sacrificing my family?” James said. “I’ve never been without my family this long. Missing the days of my daughter being in kindergarten, even though it’s through Zoom. Missing my son’s 16th birthday, which we all know is a big birthday if you have kids.

“Seeing my middle child continue to grow and be who he is. First of all, big-time shoutout to the late great Steve Jobs, because without him, without his vision, those FaceTime calls wouldn’t be possible.”

The victory came two nights after the Lakers 111-108 loss in Game 5.

“Losing a game in the NBA Finals is one of the worst experiences of my life,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “I think our group collectively felt that way, and the challenge was to channel that into effort and focus and energy and enthusiasm, positive energy, into the next game.

“I put a challenge on our group to be a team that’s going to respond to losses all throughout the season, try to never lose two games in a row. That applied to all of these playoff series. We wanted to channel that, whatever you want to call it, the misery of losing the game, into the next game.

“Boy, did we ever tonight.”

The Lakers never lost two games in a row during the playoffs.

This is the fourth time James has received the finals MVP award. He won it in 2012 and 2013 with Miami and 2016 with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Only Michael Jordan has been selected for the award more often, receiving it after all six of the Chicago Bulls championships in the 1990s.

Vogel called James “the greatest player the basketball universe has ever seen.”

“If you think you know, you don’t know ... until you’re around him every day, you’re coaching him, you’re seeing his mind, you’re seeing his adjustments, seeing the way he leads the group. You think you know. You don’t know.

“It’s just been a remarkable experience coaching him and seeing him take this group that was not in the playoffs last year, the roster was put together ... overnight and just taking a group and leading us to the promised land, so they say.

“He was terrific the entire season leading us, and I can’t say enough about him.”

The championship is the Lakers first since 2010 and comes after they missed the playoffs for a franchise-record six consecutive seasons, including in the 2018-19 season when they were 37-45.

Of the 22 players to have played for the Lakers in the 2018-19 season, six were in uniform Sunday—James, Rondo, Caldwell-Pope, Kyle Kuzma, Alex Caruso and JaVale McGee.

The Lakers are the third team in the last 60 years to win an NBA championship after finishing below .500 and missing the playoffs the previous season, joining the 1977 Portland Trail Blazers and 2008 Celtics.