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Los Angeles Lakers

NBA Finals 2020: LeBron James' 10th trip to the Finals is a reminder of his all-time greatness

LeBron James went 10-for-17 (58.8%) in the Los Angeles Lakers' Game 5 win over the Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference Finals.

Yes, I'm aware that LeBron actually finished with a ridiculous 38 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists on 15-for-25 shooting - this isn't a box score thing.

Allow me to clarify.

In his 17th NBA season, LeBron James is now set to make his 10th appearance in the NBA Finals.

If you take away the three years in which James-led teams failed to qualify for the postseason, you're looking at him appearing in the Finals 10 out of a possible 14 times (71.4%). And after tonight, teams that feature James have only lost once in the conference finals, his lone loss coming against the Orlando Magic in 2009.

Yes, LeBron now holds a 10-1 record in the conference finals.

James has become just the fourth player in NBA history to make 10 or more Finals appearances, tying Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Boston Celtics legends Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) are the only two players that have played on the NBA Finals stage more.

Most Finals appearances, NBA history
Rank Player Appearances Titles
1. Bill Russell 12 11
2. Sam Jones 11 10
3. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar 10 6
3. LeBron James 10 3
4. Tom Heinsohn 9 8
4. Magic Johnson 9 5
4. Jerry West 9 1

Say what you want about Finals records but to be quite honest, you can only lose in the Finals if you make it to the Finals. Jerry West, the Logo, took seven losses in the Finals before capturing that elusive title on his eighth try, only to lose for an eighth time while in pursuit of a repeat. Winning titles is hard, and getting to the Finals - win or lose - is not the type of accomplishment to scoff at.

The standard to which James is often held speaks to his greatness. That he's expected to lead teams to the Finals - in his 17th year, no less - is not normal.

Like, we-may-never-see-this-again abnormal.

We also know LeBron's star has shined its brightest in the Finals. The last time he was there, he opened with a 51-point, eight-rebound, eight-assist performance in what I consider to be one of the greatest individual performances I have ever seen - regular season or postseason.

Now, after a one-year hiatus from the postseason, James is four wins away from title No. 4 with team No. 3.

It's worth mentioning that Robert Horry and John Salley are the only players in league history that have won titles with three separate franchises. While Horry and Salley executed their respective roles to a T, LeBron is the first player to lead three separate teams to the finals, posting averages of 26.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists through the first three rounds, and also has a chance to become the first player to ever win a championship and Finals MVP with three different franchises.

With that being said, James and the 2020 Lakers still have four wins to earn before attaining basketball immortality. And in this league, nothing is guaranteed.

For now, appreciate the greatness of the accomplishment at hand. Unlike the fairly common sight of a player shooting 10-for-17 from the field, we may never see a player lead a team to the Finals in 10 of his 17 seasons ever again.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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