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NBA Finals: LeBron James wins fourth career MVP award

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For the fourth time in his 17-year career, LeBron James has climbed the mountaintop.

lebron james

James and the Lakers coasted to a 109-93 victory over the Heat in Game 6 to win the 2020 NBA Finals. James finished the night with 28 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists, extending his record of career triple-doubles in the NBA Finals to 11. He averaged 29.8 points, 11.8 rebounds and 8.5 assists, shooting 59.1% from the field for the series, winning his fourth career Finals MVP award.

The win puts James in second place by himself for career Finals MVP awards, trailing only Michael Jordan, who won the award six times. Three others have won the award three times: Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Tim Duncan.

Lakers fans: Get SI’s special-edition L.A. Lakers 2020 NBA Champions commemorative issue here | SI Presents: Kobe Bryant Tribute issue

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Dribble Handoff: Which four-year college player in the 2020 NBA Draft class will have the best pro career?

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The three biggest stars in the NBA Finals took three distinct paths to the NBA. LeBron James jumped straight to the professional ranks after high school, while Lakers teammate Anthony Davis played one season of college basketball at Kentucky. Both were No. 1 picks in their respective drafts after taking the quickest path available to the NBA (rules had changed to keep high school prospects from entering the draft by the time Davis came along).

But Miami Heat leader Jimmy Butler’s journey to the game’s highest level looked much different than the paths James and Davis took. He played at a junior college in Texas before transferring to Marquette, where he exhausted his collegiate eligibility before the Bulls selected him 30th overall in the 2011 NBA Draft.

Several other NBA Finals contributors also exhausted their collegiate eligibility, including Jae Crowder, Duncan Robinson and Kendrick Nunn of the Heat. Same for Danny Green and Alex Caruso of the Lakers. Of the group, Butler was the only one taken in the first round in the NBA Draft. 

But he and the other former four-year college players prove that you can still find your way to the NBA spotlight even without one-and-done hype. With that in mind, our writers responded to the following prompt for this week’s dribble handoff: Which four-year college player in the 2020 NBA Draft class will have the best pro career? If you think it’s an easy question, go look at the 2020 prospect rankings. There are some intriguing choices but no obvious answer.

Cassius Winston, Michigan State

My favorite thing about this Heat team is how it’s made up of such an unlikely cast of characters while the Lakers’ starting lineup features the No 1. pick of the 2003 NBA Draft (LeBron James), the No. 1 pick of

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LeBron James Calls Game 4 Of NBA Finals One Of The Most Important Games Of His Career

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When LeBron James woke up from his pregame nap, he sent his teammates a text. 

It was hours before they took the floor against the Miami Heat for Game 4 of the NBA Finals and he wanted them to know how much this game meant to him.

He called it a “must-win,” a term he sparingly uses. 

“I just felt that vibe,” James said. “I felt that pressure. I felt like for me, personally, this was one of the biggest games of my career and I just wanted to relay that message to my teammates, what type of zone I was in, what type of moment it was, because I just know how great of a team that we’re playing against.”

The Lakers went on to beat the Heat, 102-96, to take a 3-1 series lead. They’re one win away from their first championship since 2010.

James said he felt compelled to send that message after the Lakers’ lackluster performance in Game 3 when Jimmy Butler danced around their stagnant defense en route to a 40-point, 13-assist and 11-rebound performance in their 115-104 loss. 

He knew the Heat was feeling confident. 

And he wanted the Lakers to be ready. 

They responded with a hard-fought, defense-first game in which there were nine lead changes, nine ties and neither team ever built a double-digit advantage. 

The Lakers pulled ahead down the stretch. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a three-pointer followed by a layup on consecutive possessions — both off of assists from James — to turn a two-point Lakers advantage to seven points, 95-88, with 2 minutes left.

Anthony Davis put the nail in the coffin with 39.5 seconds remaining after making a three-pointer to give the Lakers a nine-point lead, 100-91.

James said he didn’t hesitate to pass the ball to Caldwell-Pope with

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Isaiah Thomas, New Hip and All, Ready to Resume NBA Career

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Isaiah Thomas isn’t done yet.

After getting cut loose by the NBA last winter and having hip-resurfacing surgery, the former University of Washington guard says he’s ready to resume his pro basketball career, confident he can play again.

“In some way, the time off because of COVID was a blessing in disguise for my career,” Thomas told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski. “It allowed me to take the time to get this procedure done and get back physically to a level I need to be to compete in the league.”

Thomas, a two-time All-Star, had his body deteriorate following nine seasons in the league with seven teams, to the point the Washington Wizards released him last February. 

A Tacoma, Washington, native, Thomas was a two-time Pac-10 tournament MVP player for the Huskies who passed up his senior season to enter the NBA draft. Washington retired his jersey No. 2, which was previously worn by Nate Robinson. 

He’d been battling debilitating hip issues for the past three seasons. He was injured in the 2017 playoffs just as his game reached its highest level with the Boston Celtics, when he was averaging more than 28.9 points per game. 

The shooting guard believes he returned to the court too soon the following season after his trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers. He played just 52 games in two years. 

Thomas, 31, sought out New York orthopedist Edwin Su with the hope the physician could restore his balance and eliminate his chronic pain.  

“It’s like night and day for me,” Thomas told ESPN. “There’s no more pain. For three years, I was trying to play the best players in the world on one leg.”

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Stephen Curry’s Trainer Says Warriors Star Has ‘A Lot Left’ in NBA Career | Bleacher Report

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Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) dribbles the ball up the court against the Toronto Raptors during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Francisco, Thursday, March 5, 2020. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Stephen Curry has officially logged more than a decade in the NBA, and those close to him see the three-time NBA champion and two-time MVP continuing his masterful run for quite a bit longer.

While Curry has previously said he wants to pay at least 16 seasons—the same length as his father Dell Curry spent in the league—his trainer, Brandon Payne, believes that may be setting the bar too low. During an interview with NBC Sports’ Tom Haberstroh on The Habershow podcast last week, Payne said Curry’s body hasn’t reached its peak yet.

“He’s a young 32,” Payne said (h/t NBC Sports Bay Area’s Drew Shiller) “He’s still gaining strength, he’s still gaining power, he’s still getting faster. Those aren’t things you see out of guys that are 32 years old. He’s still refining movement patterns, and all athletes develop at different speeds.”

Payne noted Curry has “got a lot left” and that he wasn’t just saying that because he’s his friend and trainer.

Even if there were a concern about years of high-level basketball stressing Curry’s body, he only played five games this season because of hand injury in October.

During Curry’s previous full season, the guard posted 27.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 5.2 assists per game. The Warriors are hoping a healthy Curry and Klay Thompson can help extend their title window a bit longer. Payne has given no reason to doubt that assessment.

“If you saw him right now physically—and we don’t put a whole lot out there on Instagram, there are reasons we don’t—he’s getting

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