LeBron James has a career record of 4-6 in the NBA Finals, and while many use that as a knock against him, there are others that staunchly defend that record.
The primary reason why some believe that record is actually quite impressive is because James managed to take some pretty mediocre rosters to the Finals. In fact, one of James’ former Cleveland Cavaliers teammates, Drew Gooden, recently expressed his belief that the 2006-07 Cavs squad was the “least talented group” James ever took to the Finals.
“I think they might be halfway right on that one,” Gooden when asked by a TMZ reporter about the flack that roster has received over the years. “The reason why, I ain’t gon’ say scrubs, but you know what, I just want that to glorify how raw and talented LeBron James was at that age.”
Then after a bit of back-and-forth conversation, Gooden put his stance in no uncertain terms.
“We were the least talented group that he led to the Finals,” he said.
Looking back at the roster from that 2006-07 season, there is no doubt that James was not surrounded by players who would have likely otherwise advanced all the way to an NBA Finals appearance. After James, who averaged 27.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game that season, the second-leading scorer on the team was Larry Hughes with 14.9 points per game.
The frontcourt of that team was led by Gooden himself and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Other names that Cavs fans will remember, but perhaps fans of other NBA teams have long forgotten, include Anderson Varejao, Eric Snow, Sasha Pavlovic and Damon Jones.
It’s definitely not a very talented bunch, and while the Cavs were dominated in the 2007 NBA Finals by San Antonio Spurs, the fact that James was able to take that team to the Finals at all should be considered a very impressive feat.
Beyond that, it seems clear that losing that series taught James a very important lesson. Since then, James has not advanced to the Finals without having at least one more superstar on his team. With the Heat, he of course suited up alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. That trio won two titles together.
Back in Cleveland during his second stint, James took the floor with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Those three won one of the most iconic Finals series in league history in 2016.
Now in Los Angeles, he and Anthony Davis led the Los Angeles Lakers to a title in 2020.
These days, he is once again struggling to lead his Lakers to any kind of consistent success. The last two seasons have marked the first time fans have seen James struggle to advance to the playoffs since his early days in Cleveland.