LeBron James is excited about making the NBA Finals, but he’s staying focused on winning.
After Saturday night’s game, when the Los Angeles Lakers won Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets, the basketball star, 35, made it clear that this year’s journey is far from over for him.
“We’re gonna enjoy tonight as we should because this is not promised,” he said. “But we understand that we got bigger fish to fry. We understand there’s a bigger goal.”
On a personal note, the victory also marked the 10th time James would be heading to the NBA finals, making him the fourth player in history — after Bill Russell, Sam Jones and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — to achieve the impressive accomplishment.
However, when asked about what it meant to him to be advancing to the finals, James made it clear that the accolade wouldn’t mean as much if he couldn’t help bring home a championship. "Right now, it don't mean s— unless I get it done," he said after the game, according to ESPN. "I got to get it done."
While speaking about his drive to win after the game, James also reflected on Kobe Bryant’s legacy. “Every time you put on purple and gold, you think about his legacy and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years,” he said, noting that the pair shared the same “mindset” about wanting “to be the best.”
For the Lakers, this year's finals appearance will be the team's first since 2010 when Bryant won his fifth championship.
“That drive to always want to be victorious, it stops you from sleeping,” he continued, referencing Bryant's Mamba Mentality. “You sacrifice a lot of things, you sacrifice your family at times because you’re so driven to be so great that other things fall by the wayside at times. I understand that. I’m one of the few that can understand the mindset that he played.”
As for his own legacy, James said that while he’s never “cast himself as a superstar,” he hopes that at the end of his career, he’ll be remembered with respect.
“I want to travel my own journey because it is my journey. As Frank Sinatra would say: I did it my way,” he said. “At the end of my career, I just hope that I’ve inspired enough people to play the right way, and have that respect from my teammates, that respect from all the opponents that I played against, all the teams that I played against and the organizations that I played for.”
The Lakers will play against the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals (either the Miami Heat or the Boston Celtics) in the NBA finals, which are slated to start next week.
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