Lebron James is about as successful as they come. In his 17 years in the NBA, he’s made 10 appearances in the NBA finals. The term “Lebron James Finals” certainly gels well together. While ten Lebron James Finals appearances are impressive enough, don’t forget that he still has many years left in the tank.
However, even with that massive success and making the NBA finals in almost two-thirds of his NBA career, it’s never been easy. He’s only won four of them, which is a testament to his perseverance, leadership, and moxie.
Whether you love him or hate him, you’ve got to admire his grit. There are many things that one can learn from dissecting his many finals appearances. See below for an in-depth review of them all.
2007 vs the San Antonio Spurs
If ever there was a “welcome to the NBA” moment for Lebron, it came during the 2007 finals against the all-powerful San Antonio Spurs.
With perhaps the worst supporting cast of all his Finals appearances, Lebron averaged almost 6 turnovers a game en route to being swept by the Spurs. What got the Cavs to that point failed them in the NBA Finals.
This appearance would be the only time he’d make it to the NBA Finals in his first go-around with the Cleveland Cavaliers. A brilliant seven-year span that, unfortunately, didn’t end with the championship that “The Land” had been hoping for.
2011 vs the Dallas Mavericks
After a controversial decision to “take his talents to Miami“, Lebron took the Heat to the NBA Finals in his first year with the team.
However, his dream team collided with a team of destiny in the form of the 2011 Dallas Mavericks, which contained players like Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Tyson Chandler, and Jason Kidd.
These finals taught Lebron that nothing is given in the NBA. Even if you have the most talented roster tandem in the league, any team can beat you if you let your foot off the gas.
The six-game series was a disappointment by Lebron’s standards. he averaged only 17 points, making it difficult for Miami to garner much offense elsewhere.
2012 vs the Oklahoma City Thunder
The 2012 NBA Finals provided a steep contrast for Lebron & Co from the NBA Finals a year prior. Instead of facing a veteran-heavy team like the Mavericks, they found themselves opposing an up-and-coming young team in the OKC Thunder.
At the time, that meant going up against the three-headed monster of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden.
However, Lebron wouldn’t be denied his first NBA Championship this go-around. He took over the series, leading to a jaw-dropping 4-1 series win. His game 5 performance was the most inspiring of all, achieving a triple-double to win the game.
2013 vs the San Antonio Spurs
Not only was Lebron excited at the opportunity of back-to-back championships, but he was also out for vengeance against the team that swept him in his first NBA Finals.
The 2013 NBA Finals was the most nail-biting of all Lebron’s NBA Finals appearances to that point. The Heat and Spurs traded blow for blow until James and the Heat were able to win game 7.
The most miraculous moment of the 2013 NBA Finals came in game 6 when the Heat overcame a 5-point deficit with only 28 seconds to go and forced OT on a Ray Allen 3-point shot.
While the Heat would enjoy the elation of winning back-to-back champions in 2013, it would be the last championship Lebron would win in a Heat uniform. A team he’d face in the finals years down the line in 2020.
2014 vs the San Antonio Spurs
2014 provided a bit of deja vu for all NBA fans, as the same two teams (Heat and Spurs) would once again face off in the NBA Finals.
That year, Lebron and his Heat wouldn’t have as much luck. While Lebron played extremely well (averaged 25 points a game), he didn’t get much help from an aging cast of teammates.
The Spurs went on to win the series decisively in the form of a 4-1 series win. After that NBA Finals loss, Lebron set his eyes on returning to his hometown and getting the city its first championship from one of their major sports franchises in 40 years.
2015 vs the Golden State Warriors
The 2015 NBA Finals would be a preview of an NBA Finals matchup that would run for four consecutive years, being the Cleveland Cavaliers against the Golden State Warriors.
During the 2015 Finals, there was little that Lebron could do to stand in the way of the Warriors’ eventual 4-2 series win. But that didn’t stop him from trying, as he averaged 35 points in all six games of the Finals that year.
He led all players (both Cleveland and Golden State) in total points, rebounds, and assists that year. However, the best was yet to come…
2016 vs the Golden State Warriors
Having a bad taste left in his mouth from the year prior, Lebron set out to right his wrongs against the Golden State Warriors in the 2016 Finals.
That plan didn’t come to fruition right away. In fact, the Cavaliers found themselves on the brink of elimination when the Warriors claimed a 3-1 series lead.
Lebron James and fellow star Kyrie Irving would then take over the series and win the championship in a nail-biting game 7 victory.
After such a miraculous weight lifted off his shoulders, Lebron fell to the floor as the final buzzer sounded, crying tears of joy for finally winning one with his hometown team.
2017 vs the Golden State Warriors
Besides being swept against the Spurs in the 2007 Finals, the eventual 4-1 loss to the Warriors in 2017 might be the most anti-climactic Finals in his career.
While Lebron averaged a triple-double and over 30 points in all five games, he couldn’t find much help elsewhere on the court. They stood no match against the high-powered Golden State Warriors offense, led by Kevin Durant.
The debate could be made that the NBA Finals would’ve been much different if not for critical injuries to both Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving.
2018 vs the Golden State Warriors
The last NBA Finals matchup against the pesky Golden State Warriors would be the worst one to swallow for Lebron and Cavaliers fans. Speaking of pesky, be sure to reach out to pest control in Ontario to keep your home comfortable this winter.
Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors would go on to sweep the Cavs in commanding fashion. The tides of the entire series were turned in Game 1 when JR Smith made a costly error to run the time out at the end of regulation.
After that season, Lebron became a free agent, where he eventually decided to move to LA and play for the Lakers.
2020 vs the Miami Heat
As fate would have it, the most recent of Lebron James Finals Recap’ appearances would have him matching up against the team he once was an NBA Finals MVP for.
The Heat and their new wave of talent (led by Jimmy Butler) would prove to be a worthy adversary opposite of Lebron, Anthony Davis, and company.
After working the series to a 3-2 lead in which they never scored fewer than 102 points, the Lakers would claim the crown in a dominant 106-93 victory. Even more impressive was the fact that the entire playoffs were done in a pandemic bubble.
This victory would have even more meaning to it, as it was won in the same season that the Lakers tragically lost iconic Lakers’ star, Kobe Bryant.
What Can You Learn from Lebron’s Finals Appearances?
While it’s true that many NBA players would kill to have as many appearances in the Finals as Lebron, that’s never been his end goal. His appearances in the Finals have had adversity, elation, and disappointment.
The main takeaway has to be perseverance and passion. He’s able to grind through the disappointing losses and stick to the plan. No matter what the circumstance, he always does as much as he can to help his team win.
Don’t let adversity overtake your life. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve taken second place, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and work hard to achieve your end goal!
Ten Lebron James Finals Appearances and Counting
While ten Lebron James Finals appearances are impressive enough, don’t forget that he still has many years left in the tank!
Who knows how many more he’ll end up tacking on to his resume? Regardless of the team that he has around him (which is currently very talented), an NBA championship is always his goal.
Be sure to browse our website for more articles on impressive accomplishments, as well as many other helpful topics that you’ll enjoy.