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LeBron James places himself in the GOAT conversation, Lakers fans honor Kobe Bryant, more sports news

LeBron James may have a 4-6 NBA Finals record, but his case as the greatest of all-time grew on Sunday night.

Anthony Davis won his first career NBA championship and may be LeBron James' best sidekick of his NBA career.
Anthony Davis won his first career NBA championship and may be LeBron James' best sidekick of his NBA career.Read moreMark J. Terrill / AP

Those that have denied putting LeBron James' name in the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) conversation, your job just became harder. James' performance this season should solidify his position among the best ever.

James led the Lakers to a 4-2 series win over the Miami Heat and earned his fourth NBA title after Sunday’s 106-93 win in Game 6. The Lakers are the third franchise he’s led to a championship title.

Earlier in the series, fans debated whether James or Anthony Davis earn Finals MVP, but ultimately James secured it for the fourth time. He’s the first player in NBA history to win a Finals MVP for three different franchises.

James’ NBA Finals record improves to just 4-6, but okay ... so what? Only Sam Jones (11) and Bill Russell (12) have more appearances. Russell’s last championship came in 1969. The facts say that it’s been 50 years since a player has had a comparable sustained winning pedigree.

It’s easy to nitpick at the NBA Finals record, but getting to the NBA Finals 10 times can’t be ignored. The fact that James did this in his 17th season at age 35 is why it’ll be one of the biggest arguments used in those future GOAT debates. He averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists in the NBA finals.

There’s Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Magic Johnson, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and others that receive consideration in the GOAT conversation, but it’s hard to say James doesn’t offer the entire package.

If winning is your main talking point, he’s won 10 conference championships and NBA titles with three franchises. If you like statistics, James is the all-time leader in points, second in assists, and he’s sixth in rebounding in the NBA playoffs. He’s the only player in the top 10 of all three categories. If you like the wow factor, James' chase-down blocks and windmill dunks should be enough to tell your kids and grandkids about. And he also has five career playoff buzzer-beaters, which is the most of all time.

“Rob [Pelinka] wants his respect, coach Vogel wants his respect, our organization wants their respect, Laker Nation wants their respect, and I want my damn respect, too,” James said postgame.

James has had his postseason failures, but all of the greats go through them. No matter if you think he solidified himself as the GOAT or not, James solidified his position in the conversation last night. And while father time is undefeated, James is winning the battle now, because he’s still playing at a peak level.

Fans pay tribute to Kobe Bryant at Staples Center

Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna Bryant may be looking down on the Lakers with the biggest smiles. Bryant’s “job’s not finished” mindset was echoed by the Lakers throughout the playoffs, and that’s how they played. The Lakers didn’t let one series get to a Game 7.

After the win, fans and players honored Bryant. A large crowd of Lakers fans chanted “Kobe!” at the Staples Center.

It was the Lakers' first title since Bryant led them to back-to-back titles in 2009 and 2010. Knowing Bryant’s mentality, he’d probably be challenging James and the Lakers to get their 18th championship ring now to pass the Boston Celtics on the all-time list.

Rafael Nadal remains king of the clay

It wasn’t Novak Djokovic’s first loss in 2020, but it was the first time he saw an opponent win three sets against him. Rafael Nadal continued his mastery on clay and won an Open Era-record 13th career French Open title.

Nadal’s dominance on clay shouldn’t be a surprise, considering his 100-2 record at the French Open. But the way he controlled the match against the top-seeded Djokovic was different. Nadal won 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.

Djokovic hadn’t loss a match he finished in 2020, but that just goes to show how dominant Nadal is on the red clay. The win tied Nadal and Roger Federer with 20 career Grand Slam singles titles, which is the most all time for men. Considering Nadal has won 13 of the last 16 French Open’s, he’s destined to add a couple more to the historic resume.