LeBron James has had the respect of his peers for years but after bringing a championship to Cleveland, the praise is still pouring in from around the league.
The latest person to throw praise James’ way is Dallas Mavericks point guard and former All-Star Deron Williams. Speaking to the Dallas Morning News, Williams, who has played against James for his entire career, appreciates how James led a Cleveland team in dire straits to championship glory.
“He went back to a team that won – what? – 20 games before he got there, and took them to the Finals, and now they won a championship,” Williams said. “And if you take him off that team, I don’t know where they’d be, they’d still be a good team, but they wouldn’t be competing for a championship.”
James, 31, left the Cavaliers after the 2009-2010 season to form a super team in Miami. Along with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, the Heat dominated the NBA for four seasons, capturing two championships during their run together.
However, James elected to return home for the 2014-15 season and led the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals, falling short of upstaging the Golden State Warriors. This season, the roles were reversed as Cleveland, led by James and company, staged an improbable comeback. Trailing 3-1 in the finals, the Cavaliers won three in a row to bring Cleveland its first championship since the 1964 Cleveland Browns.
“I said it after [LeBron] won, that did a whole lot for his legacy,” Williams said. “That changed a lot because a lot of people were criticising LeBron when he did what [Kevin Durant] did, when he left to go form a super team."
After re-signing with Cleveland on a three-year, $100 million deal, he will look to repeat as champion in Cleveland.