Rich Paul says LeBron James has always been the underdog in the NBA Finals outside of 2011, 2012

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

LeBron James is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history, and one of the things he’s most proud of is his four championship rings.

Although some would disagree, his close friend and agent Rich Paul feels he has been the underdog in most of his 10 NBA Finals appearances throughout his career.

“At 22 years of age, he took a team to the Finals as the underdog,” said Paul. “Always been the underdog. Every Finals he ever played outside of 2012 and maybe 2011 was the underdog, for the most part.”

Although James has reached the NBA Finals 10 times, he has won only four championships, which, according to some, is a big blemish on his resume.

In 2007, he was making his first appearance in the championship series, and his Cleveland Cavaliers went up against a San Antonio Spurs team that had Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili and was becoming dynastic. The Spurs swept the Cavs, who had won 50 games in the regular season, and James had a poor individual series.

The Cavs were in a similar situation in 2018, as Kyrie Irving had been traded away the previous offseason, leaving them bereft of firepower. They went up against the Golden State Warriors, another dynastic squad, and they again lost in a four-game sweep.

James’ Los Angeles Lakers most recently got swept by the eventual world champion Denver Nuggets this past season in the Western Conference Finals.

But even at age 38, he seems to have plenty of game left in his body, and if he is lucky enough to avoid major injury, he could have enough left to win a couple more titles and significantly improve his Finals record.

James will have more help this coming season than he’s had in a while. Guard D’Angelo Russell will give him some help in terms of advancing the ball, setting the table for teammates and scoring points off the dribble, as will the fast-emerging Austin Reaves.

In addition, forward Rui Hachimura could help further reduce his workload and minutes.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.