The Los Angeles Lakers have been the best team in the NBA this year and there is no asterisk on their title win, says Sky Sports NBA analyst Mo Mooncey.
With a dominant 106-93 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night, the Lakers clinched their 17th NBA championship with LeBron James winning the fourth Finals MVP award of his career.
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The Lakers ended the regular season with the best record in the Western Conference and raced through the playoffs with relative ease, dispatching the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets and Denver Nuggets all by 4-1 series scorelines.
Their biggest test came in the Finals against Miami who, thanks primarily to the spectacular play of Jimmy Butler, were able force the Lakers to the late stages of a series for the first time despite losing two of their starters – Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo – to injury for much of the series.
Speaking on Sky Sports Arena after the Lakers lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy, Mooncey reflected on their title triumph in a season that began almost a full year ago.
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“Three hundred and 57 days since the season tipped off. What a journey it has been. If the Lakers are going to win a championship any time, it is only right this year, given the journey the city of Los Angeles has been on,” he said.
“One thing I want to make very clear [because] there has been a lot of talk about this: there is no asterisk on this Lakers’ title. It is fully deserved. The Lakers have been the best team in the NBA title this year. They are fully deserving of this championship. They played fantastic basketball throughout the playoffs and the regular season as well to come out of the West. All credit to them, coach Frank Vogel and every player down their roster. They have had an amazing season.”
The consistent excellence of 35-yer-old LeBron James throughout the Finals series drew huge praise from Mooncey.
“LeBron is defying the laws of time and space because there is no way that any one at his age should be able to produce at such a high level on the basketball court. Respect is due. Even from his biggest critics, they have to acknowledge how great this man really is,” he said.
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“The greatness of LeBron James is not just about what he does on the court. He is an exemplary role model for everybody off the court: opening his school, speaking about against injustice, calling out people when they are in the wrong.
“LeBron James is an absolute role model to any young people growing up. The career he has had and the longevity of it is proof of his dedication to his craft, taking care of his body, making sure nothing comes before him striving for greatness.
“At the start of the season, people [were calling him] the ‘Washed King’. Well, he is going to be washed in champagne tonight celebrating this championship.”
Three-time NBA champion BJ Armstrong added his voice to the praise of James.
“Any time you achieve what [James] has achieved, not only this year but throughout his career, you have to give him the ultimate respect,” he said.
“One of the things we heard him say after the game was how he has been available to play. His health through this 17-year run that we have witnessed has been remarkable. I didn’t realise until I heard him say it, but he hasn’t ever missed a game in the playoffs.
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“I want to say congratulations to the Lakers franchise and, most importantly, to the players who made so many sacrifices to come out and play and get it done.”
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