The legacy of LeBron James is complete. The Cavaliers’ superstar ended the 2016 NBA Finals with 208 points, 79 rebounds and 62 assists. James became the third player to have a triple-double in Game 7 of the NBA Finals and his 29.7 points per game now stands as the highest scoring average by a player on the winning team in the Finals since 2010, when Kobe Bryant scored 28.6 points per game against the Celtics. All good enough to earn James his third Finals most valuable player award and fulfilling his promise of bringing Cleveland its first major professional sports champion since 1964, ending a 52-year drought.
“Best player on the planet,” Cavs teammate Kyrie Irving said.
Also arguably the most clutch player in NBA history. And yes, that list includes Michael Jordan.
James is now 4-2 all-time in Game 7s, including 2-0 in those must-win games during the NBA Finals. His game score from Sunday night — a metric created by John Hollinger to give a rough measure of a player’s productivity for a single game – was 23.1, the fifth-highest for a Game 7. He also has the third-highest game score for a Game 7 (32.5 in 2013). His performances in Games 5 and 6 — both elimination games for Cleveland — earned him game scores of 39.2 and 42.5, respectively, two of the top three performances ever recorded in the NBA Finals.
There have now been 13 games in which a player has recorded at least 20 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds — James has five. Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are the only two players to have more than one. Charles Barkley, Tim Duncan, Jason Kidd and James Worthy have the others. Jordan has none.
James has also moved past Jordan in postseason value over replacement, a box score estimate of the points per 100 possessions that a player contributed above a replacement-level player. In other words, James, despite not winning as many championships as Jordan, is the most valuable playoff player of all time. It’s also worth noting that Jordan’s teammate, Scottie Pippen, appears on this all-time great list at No. 5. You have to scan to No. 12, Dwyane Wade, to find the best overall playoff performance by one of James’s teammates.
When you factor in regular season performance, James can now be considered the most valuable NBA player of all time.
“I’ve never seen a man in my life tell an entire state: `Get on my back, I got you. Get on my back and I’m going to carry you. I don’t care if we fail, I’m going to wake up the next morning and I’m going to start working out and prepare for the next year,”‘ Richard Jefferson told reporters after the game. “… He was like, `I’m going to come back home because I promised them that I would do something.’ And he carried us the whole way.”