Conquering the NBA with three different teams proves LeBron James has a winning formula and highlights his greatness, according to former team-mate Joel Anthony.

James and the Los Angeles Lakers crushed the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals on Sunday to claim their first championship in 10 years.

The four-time NBA MVP was in typically fine form, breaking the record for most playoff appearances with 260 as he posted an 11th Finals triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists.

The win sealed a fourth ring for 16-time All-Star James, who made history by becoming the first player to be named Finals MVP with three different franchises.

Having previously won the championship with the Heat (2012 and 2013) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (2016), helping the Lakers back to the top of the pile was his ultimate goal upon joining in 2018.

Anthony, who was part of James' Heat team that lifted the Larry O'Brien Trophy in successive years, believes the 35-year-old's greatness is summed up by succeeding with three different sides.

"To me, he's always been a winner," Anthony told Stats Perform News. "He's always played on really good teams, for the most part, except for early on in his career where he was still trying to figure things out.

"He's always been able to win but once he took that next step and he was winning championships, I feel he's definitely figured out the type of formula and gets it. He gets it.

"He knows truly what it takes to be able to win at the highest level. It shows, the fact that clearly the man's been able to do it with three different teams. That in itself explains how much he understands and knows what it takes.

"I would say one of the biggest things about him is his mind. Physically, obviously very impressive, and even more so impressive because he's been able to do it for so long.

"He's averaged close to 30, 10 and eight in the finals. Mentally, where he is, to be able to keep his mind sharp and to be able to also lead and inspire those guys, that's the biggest thing to me.

"Even if he was able to play at a certain level, to be able to bring his team along that journey and to be able to lead them, I feel, is what's really impressive because that is an extremely difficult thing to do."

LeBron James is an NBA champion for the fourth time in his career after playing a typically starring role in the Los Angeles Lakers' 4-2 Finals series triumph over the Miami Heat.

A convincing 106-93 Game 6 win on Sunday earned the Lakers a first NBA title in 10 years, while James became the first player to be named Finals MVP with three different franchises.

James was a two-time champion with the Miami Heat and again with the Cleveland Cavaliers four years ago, prior to his latest success with the Lakers.

It is clear the superstar has been an influence in each of his four championship triumphs, but just how influential has he really been?

We crunch the numbers from each of James' four Finals triumphs to take a look.

2012 – Heat beat Thunder 4-1

It was not until his ninth season in the league that James became an NBA champion and it happened in some style as the Heat blew away the Oklahoma City Thunder a year on from losing the Finals to the Dallas Mavericks.

A 105-94 win in Game 1 proved a false dawn for the Thunder and James was already putting his stamp on the series, providing 30 points despite the Heat's defeat.

There were 32 points in a narrow 100-96 win to tie up the series, while a double-double of 29 points and 14 rebounds in the 91-85 Game 3 victory put the Heat into a lead they would not relinquish.

James really showed his superstar status in the next two games: 26 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds set up a 104-98 win for a 3-1 advantage, while in Game 5 there were 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in a memorable triple-double.

On average, James put up 28.6 points, 7.4 assists and 10.2 rebounds per game across the series, while he nailed 47.3 per cent of his field-goal efforts and 16.7 per cent of three-point attempts.

He made 80.8 per cent of free throws and averaged 0.4 blocks, 1.6 steals and 3.8 turnovers.

 

2013 – Heat beat Spurs 4-3

A year on and a great rivalry produced a great series as the Heat overcame the San Antonio Spurs in seven.

Trailing 2-1 in the series, including a 113-77 rout in Game 3, James came to life to level things again with 33 points in a crucial 109-93 triumph in the fourth contest.

But it was Game 6 when James really produced the goods, where officials had already brought out yellow tape to block out the court for the Spurs' trophy celebrations.

A fired-up James played the entirety of the second half and overtime as the Heat emerged 103-100 winners, with their talisman putting up 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds – making the go-ahead shot with one minute and 43 seconds of the additional period to play.

He then scored a game-high 37 points in the decider to lead the Heat to back-to-back titles, the only time James has managed this feat in his career.

Throughout the series, James' numbers were 25.3 points, seven assists and 10.9 rebounds per game, while he was 44.2 per cent from the field.

In terms of free throws, James was 68.3 per cent and his success from three-pointers was 34.8 per cent. Defensively, he had 0.9 blocks, 2.3 steals and 2.6 turnovers on average.

 

2016 – Cavs beat Warriors 4-3

Was this James' finest series win?

With the Cavs trailing 3-1, James led the underdogs to a remarkable comeback against the star-studded Golden State Warriors, who they faced in four straight Finals from 2015 to 2018.

James was the catalyst for putting the Cavs on the board in a Game 3 120-90 blowout, scoring 32 points, collecting 11 rebounds and providing six assists.

Remarkably, he put up 41 points in winning efforts in Games 5 and 6, while a triple-double of 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in the all-or-nothing decider inspired a 93-89 triumph to help the Cavs win their only series of the four against the Warriors.

In total, James averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.9 assists. Additionally, he had a 48.6 per cent field goal success rate and nailed 37.1 per cent of his three-pointers and 71.8 per cent of free-throw attempts.

With 2.3 blocks, 2.6 steals and 4.4 turnovers averaged per games, James also played his part defensively in a famous success.

 

2020 – Lakers beat Heat 4-2

After missing out on the playoffs for the first time in 14 years during his first season with the Lakers, James rebounded in style to defeat a familiar franchise this year.

Playing alongside fellow superstar Anthony Davis, the Lakers ended a difficult 2020 – that included the death of the legendary Kobe Bryant and the disruption to the season caused by the coronavirus pandemic – with championship glory.

James was once again series MVP, starting with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds before putting up 33 points in the 124-114 win in Game 2.

One of his best performances over the six showdowns actually came in a losing effort in Game 5 when 40 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists were not enough to prevent a 111-108 defeat.

But it was business as usual in Game 6, a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists contributing to the 106-93 triumph that ended the Heat's brave resistance.

As you would expect, the numbers show James' influence. He averaged 29.8 points, 8.5 assists and 11.5 rebounds.

He was 58.6 per cent from the field, 60.8 per cent from the free-throw line and drained 39 per cent of three-point shots, while there were 0.5 blocks, 1.2 steals and 3.5 turnovers per game.

Frank Vogel hailed LeBron James as "the greatest player the basketball universe has ever seen" after he inspired the Los Angeles Lakers to end their NBA title drought.

James claimed a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers cruised to a 106-93 Game 6 victory on Sunday to become NBA champions for the first time in a decade.

The legendary James was named NBA Finals MVP for the fourth time and became the first player to land that award for three different franchises.

James is now a four-time NBA champion and Lakers head coach Vogel ranks the 35-year-old as the best player of all time.

Asked about his decision to take the job in May 2019, when there was perceived to be uncertainty around the Lakers, Vogel said: "Well, there's not uncertainty in my mind with LeBron James.

"And [when] I took the job, we didn't have Anthony Davis. We didn't have the whole team. It was a different team after the fact.

"But I have always believed in LeBron James. He's the greatest player the basketball universe has ever seen, and if you think you know, you don't know, okay, until you're around him every day, you're coaching him, you're seeing his mind, you're seeing his adjustments, seeing the way he leads the group. You think you know; you don't know.

"It's just been a remarkable experience coaching him and seeing him take this group that was not in the playoffs last year, the roster was put together overnight, and just taking a group and leading us to the promised land, so they say.

"He was terrific the entire season leading us, and I can't say enough about him."

Vogel paid tribute to the mental strength shown by his players since they entered the bubble at Walt Disney World in Orlando.

He said: "Yeah, I've always believed in our mental toughness, and our experience. Not just LeBron, I believe Anthony Davis was destined to be a champion, and the pairing of the two of them together took us here.

"But the experience of the group, the IQ of the group, [Rajon] Rondo, Danny Green, JaVale McGee having been there, the talent level of the other guys, other guys willing to buy into starring in their roles.

"Just we had a strong belief in this group. When we got into the bubble, it was about focusing on the work, staying in the moment, focusing on day to day, and after one point - I don't know if there was really one point.

"I think beating Portland was a huge confidence booster for us because they were playing as well as anybody in the world. We know what Dame Lillard is capable of, and it just built from each series."

Anthony Davis opened up on how "respect" for and "true friendship" with LeBron James off the court built the foundations for the duo leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a record-equalling 17th NBA title.

The Lakers clinched a thrilling Finals 4-2 courtesy of a 106-93 defeat of the Miami Heat in Orlando in Sunday's Game 6, after which James was named series MVP.

Davis' first season in LA has been an unmitigated success and he averaged 25 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.2 assists during the Finals, as well as shooting 57.5 per cent from the field.

The prediction that the signing of Davis to play alongside superstar James would end the Lakers' 10-year title drought came to fruition and the former New Orleans Pelicans star says his relationship with his team-mate was key.

"[It's built on] respect. True friendship. Off the court – we're close on the court, but you've got to see us off the court. It's unreal. I'm always at his house. He's always at my house. This is true the entire season," Davis said.

"There's no jealousy. No one is envious of each other. Guys don't have personal agendas. We're just two guys who just want to win for various reasons. We were able to do it.

"And having a team who gets on us. Do [Rajon Rondo], Duds [Jared Dudley], all these guys are in our ear every single game about being great.

"When you've got a supporting cast like that, who make shots, and big shots for you, it makes our jobs a hell of a lot easier to go out there and just do what we do, knowing that if we have bad games, they pick us up. And if they are playing pretty bad, then we pick them up.

"We have a great team who trusts one another. It starts with me and Bron. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. I challenge him. He challenges me. It's not always sweet and smooth, but it gets the job done.

"You're going to have confrontations and arguments throughout the season to win a championship. We had our fair share. But at the end of the day, we respect one another. We respect what each one is trying to do. I respect his game, he respects my game and we just put it all together."

Davis, who had 19 points, 15 rebounds and three assists in Game 6, is about to enter free agency and said, "I have no idea" and "I'm sure we'll figure it out" when probed about his future.

It seems unthinkable Davis will depart the Lakers and the 27-year-old spoke about the moment he realised he was part of a team capable of winning the championship.

"It was really after the first couple games of the regular season where we would start rolling – playing defense, scoring the basketball – and we realised how great of a team that we are and that we got enough to become champions this year," he added. 

"The entire time here in the bubble, he [James] never let us get too high, never get too low after losses. Just said, 'One game at a time'. And he knows what it takes on both sides, being up in a series and being down in a series and winning."

Towards the end of the game, Davis walked into the back with James chasing after his team-mate and the former revealed some light-hearted ribbing from the latter.

"I was 25 seconds from becoming a champion. I got emotional. It's the type of journey that I've been on, my team has been on, the organization has been on – it all came just full circle with this championship. So, I just got real emotional," he said.

"He [James] was bothering me, saying, 'You're soft. Oh, you cry baby'. I walked to the back, and there was a banner trophy. I kind of grabbed it. Then we walked back out to the court. It was an unbelievable feeling, and just an emotional moment for me."

LeBron James said doubters have fuelled his drive for success after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their first NBA championship since 2010.

James was crowned Finals MVP for a fourth time as the Lakers outclassed the Miami Heat 106-93 for a 4-2 series triumph at Walt Disney World Resort on Sunday.

Lakers superstar James celebrated a fourth league title after posting his 11th Finals triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in Orlando, Florida.

It is his first championship with the Lakers, having struggled for form and fitness during his maiden season in Los Angeles in 2018-19.

James – who set the record for most postseason appearances with 260 – had a point to prove this season and the 35-year-old capped it with championship and MVP honours.

Often compared to Hall of Famer and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan as his position among the greats is debated, James told reporters post-game: "I think personally thinking I have something to prove fuels me.

"It fuelled me over this last year and a half since the injury. It fuelled me because no matter what I've done in my career to this point, there's still little rumblings of doubt or comparing me to the history of the game and has he done this, has he done that.

"So having that in my head, having that in my mind, saying to myself, why not still have something to prove, I think it fuels me."

James is the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP with three different teams, having also received the honour with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat, per Stats Perform.

In his 17th season, James moved clear of Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan with a fourth Finals MVP – now only trailing Michael Jordan (six).

James is the fourth player all-time to score 30,000-plus points and win four or more championships. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the list with 38,387 points and six titles, ahead of Michael Jordan (32,292 points and six titles) and Kobe Bryant (33,643 points and five titles).

The Lakers' 17th championship came amid the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the 2019-20 season to be suspended in March before resuming behind closed doors inside the Orlando bubble in July.

James and the top-seeded Lakers overcame the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Denver Nuggets and Heat en route to a memorable title.

"I can't sit here and say one is more challenging than the other or one is more difficult than the other," James said when asked to compare the difficulty of his championships. "I can just say that I've never won with this atmosphere. None of us have. We've never been a part of this. If you've been here throughout the start -- I mean, we got here July 9th. Our ballclub got here July 9th. It's October 11th now.

"So this was very challenging and difficult. It played with your mind. It played with your body. You're away from some of the things that you're so accustomed to make you be the professional that you are. This is right up there.

"I heard some rumblings from people that are not in the bubble, oh, you don't have to travel, whatever. People just doubting what goes on in here. This is right up there with one of the greatest accomplishments I've had."

James and fellow All-Star Anthony Davis combined to end the Lakers' wait for glory, with the latter tasting success for the first time in his maiden season since joining from the New Orleans Pelicans in a blockbuster deal at the start of the campaign.

"I can't really explain it," James replied when asked about his relationship with Davis. "There's just certain things you just know. And any type of relationship, you know that vibe. You have that respect. You have that drive. Sometimes you can't explain what links you with somebody, and then it's that organic.

"Sometimes, you don't even try to explain it. You guys ask me about my relationship with AD, the first thing I think about is the respect, the no ego, the challenging each other. We want each other to be better than actually ourselves.

"I want AD to be better than me. AD want me to be better than him. Every single night, every single day. And we challenge ourselves. I think that's a part of it."

For the first time since 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers celebrated an NBA championship on Sunday.

The Lakers outclassed the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 to seal a 4-2 series victory in the NBA Finals at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Lakers superstar LeBron James led the way with a triple-double (28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists) as his fourth league title was capped by a fourth Finals MVP.

As James and the Lakers party inside the Orlando bubble, we look at the numbers behind their success using Stats Perform data.

 

- With a 17th NBA title, the Lakers tied the Boston Celtics for the most championships all-time. The next three teams on the all-time list have combined for 17 titles (Chicago Bulls and Golden State Warriors: 6, San Antonio Spurs: 5).

- The Lakers' plus-6.8 average rebounding margin in this postseason was the highest for any NBA champion since the 2001 Lakers (+7.4).

- Los Angeles are the first team to with the title despite shooting a lower percentage from three-point range than their opponents in the playoffs since the 2000 Lakers.

- The Lakers' 15.4 turnovers per game this postseason were the most by any NBA champion since the 2006 Heat (15.5).

- The Lakers minus-1.9 average turnover margin in the NBA Finals was the worst by a champion since the 2005 Spurs (-5.9).

- James, who broke the record for most playoff appearances with 260 on Sunday, is the fourth player all-time to score 30,000-plus points and win four or more championships. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tops the list with 38,387 points and six titles, ahead of Michael Jordan (32,292 points and six titles) and Kobe Bryant (33,643 points and five titles).

- James and Danny Green join John Salley and Robert Horry as the only NBA players to win a title with three different teams.

- Former Cleveland Cavaliers and Heat star James is the first player ever to win NBA Finals MVP with three different teams. In fact, no player in MLB, NBA, NFL and NHL history has ever won the championship MVP award with three different teams.

- James averaged 27.6 points, 10.8 rebounds, 8.8 assists, and shot 56.0 per cent from the floor. He is the first player in NBA history to average 25.0-plus points, 10.0-plus rebounds and 8.0-plus assists per game while shooting 50.0-plus per cent from the field in a single postseason (minimum 15 games).

- And at 35 years, 286 days old, James is the second-oldest player to win the Finals MVP, behind only Abdul-Jabbar (38 years, 54 days in 1985).

LeBron James said he wanted respect after leading the Los Angeles Lakers to their first NBA championship in 10 years.

James posted a triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists as the Lakers crushed the Miami Heat 106-93 on Sunday to seal a 4-2 series win in the NBA Finals.

The 35-year-old won his fourth title and was later named the NBA Finals MVP for the fourth time in his career.

James was delighted to bring the Lakers a 17th championship, saying he – and the franchise – wanted to be respected.

"It means a lot. It means a lot to represent this franchise," he told ESPN.

"I told Jeanie [Buss, Lakers owner] when I came here that I was going to put this franchise back in a position where it belongs. Her late, great father did it for so many years and she just took it on after that and for me to be part of such a historical franchise is an unbelievable feeling, not only for myself, but for my team-mates, for the organisation, for the coaches, for the trainers, everybody that's here.

"We just want our respect. Rob [Pelinka, Lakers general manager] wants his respect, coach [Frank] Vogel wanted his respect, our organisation want their respect, Laker Nation want their respect and I want my damn respect too."

James' fourth NBA title and Finals MVP further cemented his place among the greatest players of all-time.

But, the 16-time All-Star said he simply wanted to continue delivering for his team-mates.

"One thing I can do is commit to the game. I put myself, my body and my mind in position to be available to my team-mates," James said.

"I've never missed a playoff game in my career and the best thing you can do for your team-mates is be available.

"For me to be available to my team-mates and put in the work, I just hope I make my guys proud and that's all that matters to me. I make my guys proud, make the fan base proud, my family back home, I can't wait to get back home to them, Akron, Ohio, we did it again and that's what it's all about."

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James capped a championship-winning campaign with a fourth NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award.

James secured a fourth title and the Lakers claimed their first championship since 2010 after routing the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 on Sunday.

The 35-year-old's 11th Finals triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists helped deliver a 17th championship to the Lakers at Walt Disney World Resort.

James is now the first player in NBA, MLB, NFL and NHL history to win the Finals MVP with three different teams, having also received the honour with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat.

In his 17th season, James moved clear of Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal and Tim Duncan with a fourth MVP – now only trailing Michael Jordan (six).

James also set another NBA playoff record, appearing in his 260th postseason game.

He moved into first place on the all-time list for playoff appearances, surpassing Derek Fisher.

Of the 4,489 players to have participated in an NBA regular-season contest, 63 per cent have not reached 260 games.

The LeBron James-led Los Angeles Lakers annihilated the Miami Heat 106-93 in Game 6 of the NBA Finals to claim their first championship since 2010.

Jimmy Butler and Miami delayed the Lakers' title celebrations by winning Game 5 to stave off elimination at Walt Disney World on Friday.

But there was no denying the red-hot Lakers on Sunday as the storied franchise ended their 10-year wait for glory with a 4-2 series victory in Orlando, Florida.

James – who broke the record for most playoff appearances with 260 – captured a fourth NBA title after posting his 11th Finals triple-double of 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, while Anthony Davis (19 points and 15 rebounds) had a double-double for his maiden championship.

The Heat were buoyed by the return of star guard Goran Dragic (5 points), who made his comeback from a foot injury, which had sidelined him since Game 1.

But Miami were outplayed from the outset as the Lakers extinguished the Heat with a defensive masterclass.

The Lakers made a hot start, leading 28-20 at the end of the first quarter behind James' nine points, five rebounds and three assists.

Los Angeles showed no mercy as they took a comprehensive 64-36 lead into half-time – 15 points apiece from Davis and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (17 points) fuelling the Lakers.

Rajon Rondo (19 points) dazzled off the bench, managing 13 points on six-of-six shooting from the field while he made his only three-point attempt.

It came as no Heat player scored double-digit points through two quarters.

While the Heat were only outscored by a point in the third quarter, the damage was already done as the Lakers cruised to their 17th NBA championship following a season which saw franchise great Kobe Bryant tragically killed in a helicopter crash alongside his daughter in January.

Bam Adebayo led the steamrolled Heat with 25 points and 10 rebounds, while Butler put up 12 points, eight assists and seven rebounds.

The Los Angeles Lakers claimed their first championship since 2010 and LeBron James won a fourth title after comprehensively sealing a 4-2 series victory over the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals.

Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James set another NBA playoff record, appearing in his 260th postseason game.

Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Lakers and Miami Heat on Sunday saw James move into first place on the all-time list for playoff appearances, surpassing Derek Fisher.

Of the 4,489 players to have participated in an NBA regular-season contest, 63 per cent have not reached 260 games.

The sixth showdown at Walt Disney World Resort is also James' 55th NBA Finals clash – tying Jerry West for fourth in league history as Bill Russell (70) tops the list.

The Lakers lead the Heat 3-2 in the best-of-seven series as the storied franchise stand on the cusp of their first championship since 2010, while James nears a fourth title.

James posted 40 points and 13 rebounds in Friday's Game 5 loss in Orlando, where the 35-year-old became the first player to post 40-plus points in a loss with a chance to clinch in the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan in Game 5 in 1993, per Stats Perform.

LeBron James said the Los Angeles Lakers must play better after failing to clinch the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat on Friday.

The Lakers stood on the cusp of their first championship since 2010 but went down to the Heat 111-108 in a wild Game 5 at Walt Disney World Resort.

James posted 40 points and 13 rebounds as the Lakers' series lead was cut to 3-2 after Jimmy Butler's triple-double fuelled the Heat in a thrilling showdown in Orlando, Florida.

Eyeing his fourth title, James became the first player to post 40-plus points in a loss with a chance to clinch in the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan in Game 5 in 1993, per Stats Perform.

The Lakers can still close out the Finals on Sunday, and James warned improvement is needed if the storied franchise are to end a 10-year wait for glory.

"Obviously it was back and forth, big play after big play," James told reporters following an entertaining finish, which saw seven lead changes in the final three minutes.

"A couple of questionable calls that swayed their way and put Jimmy to the free-throw line. Obviously, we can't do that. He's been damn near perfect at the free-throw line in the series.

"We just needed to get one stop. We felt like if we could get one stop, we could do something on the offensive end. But we got a hell of a look. We got a hell of a look to win the game, to win the series.

"Didn't go down. And then we got the offensive rebound, we turned the ball over. I thought we had a lot more time than I think we even thought after the offensive rebound, and a pass wasn't executed as we would like.

"But we've got to be better. We've just got to be better in Game 6 and close the series."

James added: "I've always stayed even keeled. You know, throughout the highs, throughout the lows, you stay even keeled and get better with the process. You stay in the moment, which I am, and understanding that we can be better.

"And how we make the adjustments and how we learn from tonight, tomorrow in our film session and when we get together and prepare ourselves for Sunday, will show the difference."

The Lakers had a chance to win the game at the death and clinch the title as James – surrounded by three defenders – found team-mate Danny Green alone at the top of the key.

However, Green's shot fell short as the Heat went on to close out the win with back-to-back free throws.

"I won't let a play here or a play there change my outlook on the game and how I play the game. I mean, if you just look at the play, I was able to draw two defenders below the free-throw line and find one of our shooters at the top of the key for a wide open three to win a championship," James said. "I trusted him, we trusted him, and it just didn't go. You live with that. You live with that.

"It's one of the best shots that we could have got, I feel, in that fourth quarter, especially down the stretch with two guys on me, Duncan Robinson and Jimmy, and Danny had a hell of a look. It just didn't go down. I know he wish he can have it again. I wish I could make a better pass. You know, but you just live with it."

Jimmy Butler was instrumental again with a 35-point triple-double as the Miami Heat prevailed 111-108 in a breathtaking Game 5 to put the Los Angeles Lakers' NBA championship party on ice.

The Heat trailed 3-1 in the NBA Finals and faced elimination heading into Friday's showdown at Walt Disney World Resort, where LeBron James' Lakers were looking to seal a first title since 2010.

But Butler had other ideas, finishing with 12 rebounds and 11 assists to help the rallying Heat stay alive and force a Game 6 in the best-of-seven series in Orlando, Florida on Sunday.

Butler became the first player with a 35-point triple-double in the NBA Finals when facing elimination since James Worthy in 1988 Game 7, according to Stats Perform.

James – who had 40 points and 13 rebounds – also became the first player to post 40-plus points in a loss with a chance to clinch in the NBA Finals since Michael Jordan in Game 5 in 1993, per Stats Perform.

Heat star Butler and James went head-to-head in stunning fashion, and the former came out on top down the stretch, which featured seven lead changes during the final three minutes.

The Lakers had trailed for most of the game, having not led since the first quarter, but they moved ahead 97-96 on a Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three-pointer with just over six minutes remaining.

But with their backs against the wall, the Heat never surrendered as Butler and Duncan Robinson (26 points) continued to step up in clutch moments.

Robinson made a pair of three-pointers in the final period, including a huge 27-foot jumper from beyond the arc to give the Heat a 101-99 lead before James levelled things up again with back-to-back free throws.

It was box office entertainment as Butler and James traded shots, while Anthony Davis' two had the Lakers up 108-107 with 21.8 seconds on the clock.

However, Butler made a pair of free throws to restore Miami's advantage 16.8 seconds from the end before team-mate Tyler Herro also nailed both of his free throws to seal victory.

Davis put up 28 points and 12 rebounds for the Lakers, but struggled late in the fourth quarter with an apparent ankle injury.

LeBron James is not thinking about his legacy as the Los Angeles Lakers stand on the cusp of an NBA championship.

The Lakers lead the Miami Heat 3-1 in the NBA Finals and can clinch their first title since 2010 with victory in Game 5 on Friday.

James, alongside Anthony Davis, has led the way as he closes in on his fourth championship but first since joining the Lakers in 2018-19.

The 35-year-old is also well placed to claim a fourth NBA Finals MVP, having not scored under 25 points in four games against the Heat at Walt Disney World Resort.

James also has three double-doubles to his name in this season's Finals as debate about his position among the league's greats continues.

However, James is far more interested in inspiring others after telling reporters on Thursday: "I don't really think about it too much. I think the story will be told how it's supposed to be told and be written how it's supposed to be written. But I don't live my life thinking about legacy.

"What I do off the floor is what means more to me than what I do on the floor. Seeing my kids on the back of a Wheaties box yesterday was one of the best moments of my life. Seeing my mom unveil the box back in my hometown of Akron, Ohio, yesterday was some of the best news, videos and pictures that I've ever seen, that I could ever get.

"The game of basketball will pass me by. There will be a new group of young kids and vets and rookies throughout the course of this game. So, I can't worry about that as far as on the floor.

"How I move, how I walk, what I preach, what I talk about, how I inspire the next generation is what matters to me the most. And if you appreciate my game, then cool. If you didn't, then that's cool, too. That's what it boils down to."

James is preparing for his 259th playoff game, tying Derek Fisher for the most all-time.

The former Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat superstar has also won 17 of his past 18 games with an opportunity to close out a series.

Asked about his mindset, James added: "[It is] Just who I am. Just the way I prepare my mind, prepare my body, prepare for the moment. Just having that desperation coming to a close-out game. I've been victorious after having that mindset.

"But that's just who I've become and how I've challenged and channelled my mindset. Living in the moment and not taking it for granted and just channelling that desperation, just knowing that the opponent and the man that's across from you has that same feeling. That's what it is."

In an unprecedented year, it is nice to know that some things remain the same – LeBron James is on the verge of making history.  

With his Los Angeles Lakers leading the NBA Finals 3-1 entering Friday's Game 5 against the Miami Heat, the 35-year-old forward appears likely to win his fourth championship, adding to an impossibly long list of career accomplishments.  

But James also has a chance to win another Finals MVP award, a distinction that could cement his legacy as one of the two best players in NBA history.  

James has won Finals MVP in each of his three title runs in 2012, 2013 and 2016, and is in a class with Magic Johnson Tim Duncan and Shaquille O'Neal with three such awards.  

With a fourth Finals MVP, James would trail only Michael Jordan and his six. James would also become the first player to win Finals MVP honours with three different teams – perhaps a fitting distinction for the man who ushered a new era of player movement in 2010 when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miami.  

But what of Anthony Davis, an All-NBA performer and perhaps James' best team-mate of his career?  

Davis is the Lakers' leading scorer this postseason with 28.2 points per game. He knocked down a three-pointer and blocked a Jimmy Butler layup in the last 40 seconds of Tuesday's 102-96 victory in Game 4.  

Davis has been incredible since joining from the New Orleans Pelicans, but James is still the most vital component in the Lakers' superpowered engine and the primary reason Los Angeles are on the cusp of winning their 17th NBA title and first since 2010.  

James has increased his scoring on the NBA's biggest stage, averaging 27.8 points in the Finals and scoring at least 25 in each game. Davis, on the other hand, scored 28.8 points per game in the Western Conference playoffs but is down to 25.8 per game in the Finals after 15- and 22-point performances in Games 3 and 4.  

James also has better numbers cleaning the glass than Davis in the Finals, averaging 11.0 rebounds per game to Davis' 9.3.  

But James' greatest attribute may be his ability to elevate his team-mates. The NBA's regular-season assist leader at 10.2 per game, James has recorded an assist on 51 of Davis' 189 made field goals this postseason.  

The Lakers' point differential per 100 possessions this postseason with James on the court is +10.5. Without James on the court in these playoffs, the Lakers have a -2.9 differential per 100 possessions – a net difference of 13.4.  

Davis is still very important with a net difference of 9.8 (+9.6 on the court; -0.2 off), but the Lakers are better equipped to play without him than James.  

And while there is plenty of objective evidence to support James' case to win Finals MVP, his story and career arc may also play a role in the eyes of the 11 beat writers and national media members who vote for the award.  

James is averaging 26.9 points, 10.5 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game in the playoffs and is on the cusp of joining Larry Bird as the only players to win a championship while averaging at least 25-8-8 over the course of the playoffs.  

James is already the all-time postseason leader in points (7,423), minutes (10,729), field goals (2,643), free throws (1,730) and steals (441). On Friday, he will play in his 259th career playoff game, tying him with Derek Fisher for the most all-time.  

Despite playing at the end of his 17th NBA season, James has shown few signs of his production falling. His 512 points this postseason are the most ever by a player at least 35 years old. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only other player to even have 400 in a single playoff run at that age.  

Simply put, James is doing far more at an advanced age than any player in NBA history.  

The case for James does not diminish the enormous contributions of Davis, without whom the Lakers went 37-45 last season. But with one more win against the Heat – whether it comes in Friday's Game 5 or is delayed – James will likely be crowned Finals MVP, adding yet another feather to his already crowded cap.  

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