The Cleveland Cavaliers are the defending NBA champions and have won seven straight postseason games this year, something that has LeBron James wondering what he has left to prove to anyone about his abilities as a professional basketball player.
It feels like this postseason has been a bit of a breakthrough for LeBron and the Cavaliers after slogging through a regular season as champions that seemed disinterested and sloppy. But all that’s gone now. James and the Cavaliers are easily handling the Eastern Conference and are on the verge of cruising into the conference finals.
James was honest with the media after a Game 3 win on Friday night, openly asking what more the 3-time NBA champion needs to accomplish after 14 seasons.
“What else do I have to prove?” he asked according to Cleveland.com. “Seriously, what else would I have [to do] I’ve won championships, I won my first one and I’ve won for my teammates, I came home and won. There isn’t anything I have left to prove.”
James had 35 points in the 15-94 Game 3 win, including 13 in the fourth quarter to shut the door for good. It looks like the Cavs are officially firing on all cylinders after what at times felt like a shaky regular season. Despite finishing 20 games over .500 and getting the second spot in the East, Cleveland’s team defense struggled and many in the media got caught up on whether James and Co. should be resting to prepare for the postseason.
Whether the Cavs lost focus or not, it appears that it’s possible to flip the switch and take control in the postseason. It also looks like James is more than ready to lead a Cavaliers team that’s poised to defend its title, even if they go on the road to start the next round.
“If you’re not in a place where you can win, where you might not have the opportunity, then that might not be what it’s about for you,” James said. “For me, I’ve always won. Ever since I started playing this game, my first year in youth (basketball), we went 6-0 and won the championship. And then we won it again.”
That could be perceived as a shot at other NBA superstars that can’t find a way to win in the playoffs, or rather just a frank explanation for the moves James has made in his career. The decision to go to Miami was about chasing a championship. James admitted it himself many times over, but it appears in his mind that moves like that are what players should be doing more often.
It’s could also be seen as defense of Kevin Durant‘s decision to jump to Golden State after Oklahoma City struggled to get past them in the Western Conference. If it’s not working—if you’re not put in a position to succeed with a franchise—go find success elsewhere.
Still, the fact of the matter is that James seems to create success wherever he’s playing. A lot of that is his own preparation and work ethic. James, for example, has “no idea” why he became a right-handed player when everything else in his life he does with his left hand.