The Los Angeles Lakers are NBA champions, defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, winning the best-of-seven series four games to two.
It’s the 17th title for the franchise, tying the Lakers with the Boston Celtics for the most all time in NBA history.
This was the Lakers’ first NBA Finals appearance since 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant won his fifth and final NBA title. Bryant, along with his daughter Gianna and seven others, died in a helicopter crash January 26.
It’s the fourth championship for LeBron James, in his 10th NBA Finals. James previously won two titles with the Heat (2012 and 2013) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016). On Sunday, he became the NBA’s all-time leader in playoff games played, at 260. He finished the night with a triple-double: 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. He was named NBA Finals MVP, the fourth time he has received this honor.
James is the first player in NBA history to earn NBA Finals MVP with three different teams. Only Michael Jordan has more NBA Finals MVP awards, with six.
“For me to be a part of such a historical franchise is an unbelievable feeling, not only for myself but for my teammates, for the organization, for the coaches, for the trainers, everybody that’s here,” James said on the court. “We just want our respect. (Lakers vice president of basketball operations and general manager) Rob (Pelinka) wants his respect. (Lakers head) coach (Frank) Vogel wants his respect. Our organization wants their respect. Laker nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect, too.”
This capped an NBA season — which ends just outside of Orlando, Florida — unlike any other, as widespread protests over racial injustice fanned out across the US during the coronavirus pandemic and with a contentious presidential election just weeks away. While leading his team to a title, James has been a leader among the sport’s most influential players in setting an agenda during the social justice movement.