During the 2018 NBA Playoffs, the Cleveland Cavaliers had a tough time dealing with the Indiana Pacers in the first round. In Game 7 of the series, the Cavaliers narrowly won by a score of 105-101 and advanced to the second round.
The Athletic’s Joe Vardon recalled that during the series, he and Jason Lloyd questioned LeBron James about how his legacy would be affected if he were to lose in the first round of the playoffs. Understandably, James didn’t like his legacy being questioned.
“There was a time, though, during a first-round series where a small piece of his legacy landscape was on the table,” wrote Vardon. “In 2018 in Cleveland, the Cavs fell behind 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers. LeBron’s attitude to that point in the series was fairly nonchalant. The Athletic’s Jason Lloyd and I questioned him about it publicly and also spoke to him privately about losing in the first round in what might be (and turned out TO BE) his last season in Cleveland. LeBron didn’t like that, at all, but in the final three wins of that series scored 32, 44 and 45 points.”
On their way to the NBA Finals, where they were swept by the Golden State Warriors, the Cavaliers were able to get past the Toronto Raptors and the Boston Celtics. The 2017-18 season wound up being James’ final one in Cleveland before he signed with the Los Angeles Lakers in the offseason.
During his career, James has yet to lose a first-round playoff series. However, he is currently in danger of losing his first ever first-round series as the Phoenix Suns currently lead James and the Lakers 3-2 in the series. The Suns have a chance to clinch the series on Thursday night, as Game 6 takes place in Los Angeles.
A first-round loss would certainly sting, but one has to believe that it wouldn’t tarnish James’ legacy.
A hypothetical Game 7 between the Lakers and Suns would take place on Saturday in Phoenix.