2017 NBA Finals: LBJ More to Gain or KD More to Lose?


In a recent debate on ESPN First Take, Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman brought the subject to light about who’s legacy will take a bigger shot in June. After the result of the almost certain 3rd consecutive Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors NBA Finals; Will LeBron James’ legacy have more to gain? Or will Kevin Durant’s have more to lose?

These two future Hall of Famers met in the NBA Finals for the first time back in 2012, where they were mostly under the opposite circumstances in terms of making statements on their legacies.

James was at the point where his legacy, as a top 10 player of all-time, would become completely tarnished for going 0-3 in the NBA Finals. Since he was a freshmen in high school, the media has been watching LeBron’s every move like a hawk. If he were to lose, he wouldn’t live up to the nearly impossible expectations set for him as a rookie. Being compared to the biggest icon in NBA history (Michael Jordan) since high school, James finally had a team capable of winning the NBA Finals. If he couldn’t do it now, then would he ever be able to?

Durant was in the 5th year of his NBA career, as a 3x All-Star and 3x Scoring Champion; Durant didn’t have much to lose, only so much to gain. Going up against the 46-20 (lockout season) Miami Heat with LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, Durant’s legacy would make a huge statement against other legends. Durant would have a championship in only his 5th year in the league, which is faster than: Shaquille O’Neal, Isiah Thomas, David Robinson and even Michael Jordan.

Photo From SB Nation

Fast forward 5 years later…LeBron has already cemented his legacy as not only a top 10 player of all-time, but top 5 and arguably top 3. He’s a 4x MVP, 3x NBA Finals Champion, as well as a 3x NBA Finals MVP. He’s now in his 14th NBA season, with only more to gain after beating the San Antonio Spurs in the finals, the 73-9 Golden State Warriors and the Oklahoma City Thunder that had 3 players on their roster, that are now top MVP candidates. He can’t lose much facing a much superior team with 4 All-Stars, including 2 former MVPs. He can only gain a better resume in the GOAT conversation at this point.

Kevin Durant’s now 10 years into his NBA career with 1 MVP, 8 All-Star appearances and 6 All-NBA team honors. He has some of the most impressive accolades in a 10-year NBA career, all that’s missing is a championship ring. Durant was almost on his way to his second NBA Finals appearance last season, until he and the Thunder lost 3 straight games in the Western Conference Finals to his now current team, the Golden State Warriors. What many have called a “cowardly” move, KD’s signing to Golden State, not only gave him a great shot at the NBA Finals, it pretty much gave him a wide opened layup. To join the already historic 73-9 Golden State Warriors, there has never been more pressure on an NBA team to not just go to the NBA Finals, but win it with flying colors.

The pressure is on for the Slim Reaper. KD’s on arguably the most talented NBA team in the history of the league, if he doesn’t end 2017 as an NBA Champion, his legacy may forever be blemished. He’ll go down with Charles Barkley, Karl Malone and Carmelo Anthony as some of the NBA’s greatest talent who never had what it takes to win a championship.

King James will now have the opportunity to be neck and neck with or even possibly have an equivalent resume to Michael Jordan as the GOAT. Having 4 championships in a much more talented NBA era, facing much harder NBA Finals opponents, there isn’t much you can criticize the only player in NBA history to finish in the top 10 in career points and top 15 in career assists.

So the question remains:

Is there more to gain going down as the GOAT? or is there more to lose in never becoming an NBA Champion?

About Juwan M. Davis

Editor/Writer for NBALEAD. Born and raised in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Living in Los Angeles. Minnesota Timberwolves fan. Twitter: @JuwanMalikDavis

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