The Drive to Win the NBA Cup: LeBron James’ Quest to Surpass Michael Jordan

The NBA Cup/In-Season Tournament finally concludes in Las Vegas this week. LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Phoenix Suns in a scrappy game Tuesday night to advance to the semifinals. James put on a show against Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, scoring 31 points, dishing 11 dimes, and grabbing eight boards. For a tournament the jury is still out on, you’re probably wondering why the King is going all out for this crown. It’s simple when you factor in the overall scope of his career versus other greats. The NBA Cup champion is one title Michael Jordan can never have on his resume. It’s a never-ending battle for James to overthrow Jordan in everyone’s mind when they think of the greatest basketball player of all-time. Since the odds of LBJ winning another Larry O’Brien trophy have greatly diminished, the next best thing is winning the inaugural NBA Cup. James’ Lakers are only a couple games away from doing that in Sin City. It wouldn’t be quite right if there wasn’t a bit of controversy surrounding LA’s win over Phoenix on Tuesday. Whether you think the refs got it right or wrong, this was a difficult play to catch in real-time and even on the instant replay. It looks like the ball is loose prior to James signaling for a timeout, then you look again and are unsure. That’s a huge call that bounced Bron’s way this time. Luckily for the Suns, they will meet the Lakers again later this season and potentially in the postseason. Now, the King must prepare for his date with destiny and a semifinal matchup against Zion Williamson and the New Orleans Pelicans. Should the Lakers surpass that challenge, we’ll see James and Anthony Davis in the championship on Saturday. Maybe we’ll get another speech about snatching respect from the doubters like we saw after the Lakers’ bubble championship triumph in Orlando in 2020. Everyone should root for the Lakers to win this tournament to see how over the top James gets with his victory speech and celebration. Ultimately, this comes down to James owning a championship the real GOAT can never possess. You’ll never hear James say it publicly (not while he’s active, anyway), but he desperately wants to add this title to his list of career accolades: First-ever NBA Cup champions, LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers. Hopefully, for James, the masses (including NBA players) will accept this championship instead of calling for an asterisk in the record books like the COVID title. It’s not likely, but we’ll keep our fingers crossed.