The Los Angeles Lakers are your 2020 NBA Champions after defeating the Miami Heat 106-93 in a Game 6 that was nowhere near as close as the score. Los Angeles showed why many picked them to win the title almost a calendar year ago. The longest season in NBA history, literally and figuratively, is finally over and what a fitting end it was. The King regained his crown, the premier franchise in the NBA is back and the Lakers fulfilled their promise of winning title number 17 in honor of the late Kobe Bryant.

There is no asterisk in the record book when they mark this down in permanent ink, in fact if anything this was the most difficult championship in league history, especially for the Lakers.  Anytime you have Lebron James on your team, the pressure and media scrutiny are ramped up to 100, and when you add in trading half the team away for Anthony Davis in the offseason, the chatter outside the locker room grew even louder. The thing is, none of that has ever slowed them down before and it wasn’t going to start now.  The Lakers came out of the gate hot, rolling to a 17-2 record to start the year.  They never relinquished the top seed in the west after November 1st and it seemed as though they would roll straight through the season and the playoffs en route to title 17.  

Lakers teammates celebrate with Star Lebron James on court minutes after securing the NBA title. Wally Skalij, USA TODAY

Then, on January 26th tragedy struck the basketball world as NBA legend Kobe Bryant tragically passed in a helicopter accident.  The NBA was devastated to say the least, and the Lakers cancelled games in order to pay their respects to the Greatest Laker of All-Time. As if that wasn’t enough, Covid-19 hit the United States less than a month later and the season was in jeopardy. It took nearly 4 months, but the NBA was able to save the season with the Orlando bubble.  It was a genius, innovative move by Commissioner Adam Silver that helped us to crown a champion, even if it took longer than any season before it. 

Once the season restarted, and the seeding games concluded, the Lakers dominated the competition from the first round through the finals. Remember when the Portland Trailblazers were going to sweep the Lakers? They took care of business 4-1.  In the next round, the Rockets small ball lineup and star duo of James Harden and Russell Westbrook were supposed to be a terrible matchup for Los Angeles. Again they dispatched them with ease 4-1.  The Western Conference Finals were supposed to be the Battle of Los Angeles between the Lakers and Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and the Clippers. Alas, little brother couldn’t keep up their end of the bargain, blowing a 3-1 lead to the Denver Nuggets.  Jamal Murray made his star turn seemingly before our eyes in these playoffs and excited the basketball world with his 50 point games and two comebacks from down 3-1.  What did the Lakers do to them? The same thing they did all playoffs, dominate on the way to another 4-1 win. 

On to the NBA Finals against Lebron’s former team and coach in the Miami Heat and coach Erik Spoelstra. The Heat weren’t supposed to be there, to say the least, as they were the third team seeded 5th or lower to make the Finals, but they showed everyone they deserved to be there. After being dominated in games 1 and 2, the Heat, led by Jimmy Butler’s two historic performances in games 3 and 5 got the series to 3-2, the closest anyone came to beating LA. In game 6 however, the Lakers left no doubt about who was the best team in the NBA, demolishing Miami from the opening tip. They took a 32 point first half lead, led by 28 at the break, only allowed 36 first half points, and secured their 17th title and the 4th for Star Lebron James.

Lebron holds his fourth championship trophy and 4th finals MVP trophy after winning game 6 Sunday Night. Wally Skalij USA TODAY

The King has made it back to the top of the mountain, the Lakers are back to being the best franchise in the NBA, and JR Smith took his shirt off. Things are as they should be in the basketball world. Don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this title means less because of the circumstances surrounding it. It’s one of the hardest things to in sports, winning it all that is, imagine doing it during a pandemic, locked away in a bubble for over 3 months. The way they dominated along the way is something people will tell their children about for years to come. Remember that time the NBA had to take 4 months off, and then finished the season in a bubble at Disney World? I do, that was the year the Lakers and Lebron James reminded everyone who really was the best in the world. Congratulations on banner 17 LA, you deserved. And the best part of it all? They don’t even have to travel to go to Disney World.

Photo Credit: Wally Skalij USA TODAY

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