The View From Pluto: LeBron James Is At His Best Despite Defeat

Jun 14, 2017

Terry Pluto says despite losing in the NBA Finals, LeBron James has never been better
Credit Brandon Davis

LeBron James said he had no reason to hang his head after the Cavs lost the NBA title to the Golden State Warriors Monday. That’s because he had his best postseason performance in his 14-year career.

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto explains how James is at his best despite defeat:

"For an athlete in this time and place, this was an exceptional postseason for LeBron because he did so many things right on so many fronts," Pluto says.

On the court 
James became the first player in NBA history to average a triple-double in the Finals. He scored an average 33 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists during the series. And, Pluto says James also made 57 percent of his shots.

"He’s been carrying this group. This was his eighth time in the finals and six of those times he’s been on the underdog team. So, his record in the Finals is 3-5 and I would say he's overachieved."

And, Pluto says he was impressed by how James handled himself following the team's Game 5 loss. "James said he gave his all and that the other team was better."

Off the floor
Pluto says during the playoffs, two things happened off the court that were defining moments for James. 

1. In May, he won the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award, selected by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. He was selected among 26 players nominated for their service and dedication to the community.

'He eloquently talks about ... if this gets people to face the fact that racism is under the surface, it's good. He could have been really angry.'

James was recognized for his work through the LeBron James Family Foundation in Akron. The foundation has helped more than 1,000 at-risk children by providing educational opportunities, school supplies, bicycles and outings. 

The award also mentions his work this year to create the I PROMISE school in partnership with Akron Public Schools. 

“He said this was part of the reason he came home to Akron, so he could get even more invested in the things he was doing in Northeast Ohio," Pluto says. 

2. Earlier this month, a racial slur was painted on the gate of his home in Los Angeles. James addressed the media about the incident on the eve of the NBA Finals. 

“He’s up there and he’s supposed to talk about race relations in American based on what happened at his house. And you’re 32-years-old and you’re a basketball player and you didn’t go to college.

"And he eloquently talks about that, if nothing else, if this gets people to face the fact that racism is under the surface, it’s good. He could have been really angry.”

Pluto says James' display on and off the court should "increase our appreciation of him."