LeBron James' legacy has been highly disputed by fans across the world. Some recognize him as the greatest of all time while others try to squander all of his accomplishments. He has a chance to reshape his legacy with the Los Angeles Lakers in this coming fortnight against the Phoenix Suns, beginning with a crucial Game 2 in Arizona.
LeBron James could accomplish something Kobe couldn't
LeBron James could do something that the late great Kobe Bryant was not able to accomplish. Back in 2006, Kobe and the Lakers lost to the Suns in a seven-game series. The Lakers were the 7-seed while the Suns were the 2-seed which is the exact same situation in 2021. While Kobe wasn't able to accomplish this feat, LeBron has a great shot to do it.
The Lakers lost Game 1 of the series and it looks like it will be a close series. LeBron has typically used Game 1 as a feel-out game and proceeds to dominate throughout the rest of the series. Hopefully it's the same in this series as Devin Booker looked electric for the Suns. Playing a 2-seed is a tall task in the first round but LeBron James and the Lakers are the defending champions. An injury-ridden season caused the Lakers to fall to the 7-seed which makes it a tough journey. Lakers stars LeBron and Anthony Davis both missed significant time throughout the season but are now ready to compete in this first round.
LeBron James could cement his legacy even more by beating the Suns in a tough first-round matchup.
LeBron James shows toughness as Michael Jordan once did
Another way LeBron can reshape his legacy is by playing through injuries. Some people knock him for not playing through injuries but he appears to be playing through one now. In Game 1 LeBron's shoulder was injured after being undercut on a box-out attempt from Chris Paul. He seemed to be in a lot of pain but played through it because it is the playoffs. When asked about his injury in the postgame press conference, LeBron James said, “I'll be ready [for Game 2].” He is not inclined to go in-depth about injuries, but whatever pain he is feeling he will play through.
Many Michael Jordan fans hate on LeBron's lack of toughness but playing through an injury in the playoffs draws parallels to Michael Jordan's flu game back in the 1997 NBA Finals. This happened in Game 5 of the NBA Finals where Jordan willed his team to victory. LeBron playing through injury could gain respect from Jordan fans as it would be very similar. While he may not talk about the injury, James will definitely be playing through one. In a very tough first-round matchup against the Suns, he will have to elevate his game even with an injury.
Playing through an injury could completely reshape fans' point of view on LeBron's legacy.
The first-round series has a ton of star power beyond James. Although the Lakers duo is proven to be great, the Suns showed in the regular season what they can do. Booker and Paul are a star-studded backcourt that look ready to compete at the highest level. This series is primed to be great as both teams have good enough rosters to be title contenders. Booker went off for 36 points in game one and the Lakers didn't have an answer for him.
After winning the 2020 championship LeBron James said, “And I want my damn respect too.” LeBron will have a chance to earn respect while playing through an injury to give the Lakers a chance in the series.