NBA Finals Recap: Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Miami Heat

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LeBron James strove to become a four-time NBA champion at the ripe age of 35 as his Los Angeles Lakers squared off against his former squad, the Miami Heat, led by all-star shooting guard Jimmy Butler.

The Lakers were led by two dominant all-stars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The duo powered their squad through the regular season as they secured the best record in the Western Conference and wound up taking down the Heat in six games.

However, another forceful team in the NBA playoffs was the Miami Heat. Both teams entered the finals series with a 12-3 record in the 2020 playoffs. The Heat entered the playoffs as the fifth seed in the Eastern Conference, which would have been the lowest seed ever to win the NBA Finals.

Aden Salim, ’21, a fan of the NBA, described his feelings about the Miami Heat team.

“The Miami Heat is a wonderful surprise to the NBA bubble and is an electric team to watch but the Lake Show has too much star power,” Salim said.

An intriguing element of this matchup was the vastly different composition of these two teams. On one hand, the Lakers are stacked with star power with two max contract players controlling the bulk of their scoring.  The Heat, on the other hand, have just one max contract player in Jimmy Butler, but a far more balanced squad overall. They have several different ballers who can lead their team on any given night.

Luke Chutko, ’21, described his feelings about the Heat’s star players.

“Jimmy Butler is a phenomenal player on both ends of the floor and allows his teammates to flourish as well,” Chutko said.

In the 2010 NBA free agency, LeBron James shocked the world as he infamously announced his landing spot on a program titled, “The Decision.” He was taking his talents to South Beach to play for the Miami Heat. LeBron promised the city of Miami multiple championships. The media and rival teams did not appreciate his confident tone as the Heat quickly became the villains of the league. However, LeBron and his co-stars, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh followed through for Miami as they won back-to-back championships in 2012 and 2013.

Fast forward to 2020, and LeBron is a champion for the Los Angeles Lakers after defeating his old team in The Finals as both franchises showcased a collection of new faces.

Not long ago, all-star Jimmy Butler was widely viewed as a team problem for the Chicago Bulls, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Philadelphia 76ers. Jimmy Buckets has proved his doubters wrong as he cemented his legacy in NBA record books this past series. In game three of the finals series, Jimmy Butler became just the third player in NBA history to record a 40-plus point triple-double, joining Jerry West and LeBron James.

Starring alongside Butler was all-star center Bam Adebayo. At the end of the regular season, Adebayo finished second in the running for the Most Improved Player. He enjoyed a breakout season at the age of 23. Similar to Anthony Davis, he can handle the basketball in fast break situations and make the correct pass or finish at the rim. This versatility is the new wave of big men for today’s NBA.

Another worthy storyline to note for the Miami Heat is their first-round draft pick, Tyler Herro. In their fourth game of the Eastern Conference finals versus the Boston Celtics, Herro became the second-youngest player in NBA playoff history to score 35-plus points following his 37-point performance. With this phenomenal scoring display, he surpassed Magic Johnson’s effort in the 1980 Finals, as Herro was 29 days younger than the Lakers icon.

However, the finals starter shocking most people is the Heat’s former Division III standout Duncan Robinson. Robinson began his collegiate career with the Williams College Ephs and won the Division III Rookie Of The Year Award in 2014. After leading the Ephs to the championship game during his first year, Robinson decided to transfer to the basketball powerhouse at the University of Michigan. In his three-year career at Michigan, Robinson was consistently an above-average player, but never a star. Robinson eventually signed with the Heat as an undrafted free agent in 2018. In his second season with the Miami Heat, Robinson broke the Heat record for made three-pointers in a single season with 270 of them.

Lakers point guard Rajon Rondo, aka “Playoff Rondo,” also cemented his name into NBA legacy. Game six of the finals series was Rondo’s 122nd NBA playoff game. Rondo averages nearly a career double-double in the playoffs with a stellar stat line of 14 points, nine assists, and six rebounds per game. With another solid playoff performance, Playoff Rondo presents a serious case for his induction into the NBA Hall of Fame.

The constant rise of the ranks for both head coaches in this series reflected each team’s gritty style of play. They both began their NBA coaching careers with the role of video coordinator. Lakers Coach Frank Vogel got his start in the ’90s under head coach Rick Pitino. Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra began his duties with the Heat in 1995. This is only the third time the Heat have reached the postseason since LeBron’s departure. Spoelstra and the Heat’s Front Office deserve major credit because they never tanked to receive a high draft pick. Instead, the Heat continuously built their roster with depth and made effective player acquisitions.

In a strange 2019-20 NBA season that tragically featured the horrific death of Lakers superstar and fan favorite Kobe Bryant, an NBA championship means much more than just a trophy to the Lakers organization and fanbase.

Graham Johnson, ’20, was saddened about the death of Kobe Bryant.

“I am not typically a fan of basketball but after the tragic passing of Bryant, I was cultivated to the sport after realizing the everlasting effect he had on many lives,” Johnson said.