The LeBron James Dynasty
The term dynasty in sports is an ever evolving term. If you were to ask someone what a dynasty was in 2000 they would tell you it is a team that wins consecutive championships for an extended run (i.e. Jordan-Pippen Bulls, late-1990s New York Yankees, 1970s New York Islanders). If you asked someone that same question today they would tell you it is a team that wins a good amount of titles in a given time span, but not necessarily in consecutive years (i.e. Buster Posey San Francisco Giants, Belichick-Brady Patriots, Toews-Kane Blackhawks).
The universal definition of a sports dynasty is “a team or individual that dominates their sport or league for an extended length of time. The definition of dynasty by some academics [who?] implies a single leader over the bulk of that period.” One of the pillars of being labeled a dynasty is championships. In popular sports culture it is assumed that dominance does not mean anything if hardware is not part of the equation (i.e. 2007 New England Patriots). Under that assumption LeBron James’s dominance over the Eastern Conference the past six seasons does not hold much significance.
This is why that paradigm of thinking is incorrect and LeBron James is a dynasty. The key trait in a dynasty is dominance over an extended period. Since taking his talents to South Beach in 2010 LeBron has gone 419–178 (85–36 in the playoffs) with six straight NBA Finals appearances and two championship rings. Despite this dominance over the conference many view LeBron’s run as really good, but do not appreciate just how historic this run is.
LeBron detractors will immediately point out that LeBron had the help of future Hall of Famers Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen in Miami and now Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in Cleveland. Those are valid points, but we have seen super teams crash and burn before (2004 Los Angeles Lakers) and at the end of the day the games must be won. LeBron has racked up wins by the boatload winning 70-percent of his games since 2010 and has been the alpha during each of these runs.
He has gone through a metamorphosis in these six seasons. When he first arrived at Miami he was someone that overpowered you physically and mentally, getting to the rack at will, sprinkling in jump shots here and there. After the 2011 Finals he morphed into the hoops version of The Terminator killing teams from every spot on the floor, shooting at an insane 57-percent (including a career-best 40-percent from three) clip. Upon his return to Cleveland he has slowly transformed into a traditional big man with the bulk of his damage coming in the paint.
So how can someone still say LeBron is not a dynasty? His finals record currently sits at 2–3 since 2010 and 2–4 overall. As mentioned before if a season doesn’t end with a title it’s commonly looked at as a failure. But if you take into account that no other player has cleaned out his conference like this since Bill Russell — reached eight straight finals in the late 1950s and early 1960s — and the fact that he has done this during what could be known as the best era in NBA history there is no doubting the historical feat. LeBron James is a dynasty regardless of what happens over the next two weeks whether you like it or not.
Originally published on Sidelines June 2016