Editor’s notice: This story was initially revealed on July 30, 2020 and has since been up to date to mirror the Lakers successful the NBA championship.
STANDING ACROSS FROM one another at middle courtroom, Kobe Bryant and LeBron James shook palms.
The 2016 NBA All-Star Recreation was the primary and solely worldwide All-Star Recreation in NBA historical past. And with Bryant taking part for the final time in his profession, he shared a playful message with the officers surrounding them.
“After I go away,” Bryant stated, pumping James’ arm with a sturdy grip throughout the ceremonial captains assembly, “he is the elder statesman.”
Three years after that second in Toronto, and midway world wide, Bryant’s phrases appeared prescient as James — now the face of the Los Angeles Lakers — addressed the players congregated in a Ritz-Carlton ballroom in Shanghai.
Houston Rockets common supervisor Daryl Morey had tweeted after which deleted his assist of protesters in Hong Kong simply days earlier. Because the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets arrived in China, confusion and uncertainty unfold throughout the gamers and staffers. James was embarking on his seventeenth season, and among the gamers there have been nonetheless in diapers when he entered the league. Each in stature and seniority, James was leaned upon as a guiding voice.
It did not make sense, James reasoned, for the gamers to talk to the practically 200 reporters assembled within the lodge foyer a number of flooring beneath when Morey and NBA commissioner Adam Silver had but to take action.
“What he was most vocal about was,” a supply acquainted with the assembly advised ESPN, “‘How are you going to ask us to do media while you yourselves usually are not?'”
Occasions had been canceled. Promotional appearances — some profitable alternatives, value upward of seven figures for some gamers — had been scrapped. Sightseeing was out. Workforce practices and media classes had been nixed too.
That left the Lakers with a ton of time and nowhere to go.
The Lakers had executed a blockbuster trade within the offseason to amass Anthony Davis, turning over their roster along with hiring a brand new teaching workers, and the all of the sudden wide-open schedule allowed for bonding alternatives. The Ritz-Carlton is related to the Shanghai Worldwide Finance Middle, which encompasses a high-end mall and a Morton’s steakhouse. With your complete staff in attendance, dinners at Morton’s lasted for hours. If it wasn’t a meal, it was a procuring journey to the mall or a gaggle exercise within the lodge health club.
“It was fascinating,” a staff supply stated. “They had been in a bubble. They began the season in a bubble, and they’ll finish it in a bubble.”
Over a nine-month span, the Lakers had been mired in a global state of affairs, handled every day life, loss of life and a pandemic. The Lakers had been on the highway in New York Metropolis the day of former NBA commissioner David Stern’s memorial at Radio Metropolis Music Corridor. That they had to determine as a franchise learn how to keep it up after the surprising loss of life of Bryant. And because the season got here to a halt in March, the Lakers had been coming off a weekend during which they beat each the presumptive Jap and Western Convention favorites within the Milwaukee Bucks and LA Clippers.
After a failure to launch within the first yr with James, the Lakers rose to the highest of the Western Convention as one of many title favorites in Yr 2. What occurred within the time between these bubbles was in contrast to every other in franchise historical past.
COACHING THE LAKERS for Frank Vogel meant taking the job solely after the group could not land its first two decisions. It meant Jason Kidd getting assigned to the teaching workers by the entrance workplace. And it meant Lea Thompson from “Again to the Future,” one in all Vogel’s favourite films, asking for a selfie. On his first flight to Los Angeles after being named head coach, Vogel was delighted to converse with the actress however was floored by the request for a photograph.
“I might have by no means, by no means in one million years thought … I might’ve thought it might be the opposite approach round,” Vogel says.
It was an intersection with movie star that the newly minted Lakers coach by no means actually thought of. In any case, the Jersey Shore native’s biggest brush with Hollywood to that point was as a 10-year-old brushing his tooth with a basketball spinning on the top of his toothbrush as a visitor on “Late Night time with David Letterman.”
“For me it was simply, they had been the cool staff out West,” Vogel says. “I did not actually go away the East Coast, I did not journey a lot as a child or something like that. So, it was like a international nation serious about California. They usually simply had palm timber and sunshine, simply had a aptitude to them that was movie star like, you realize? And the way in which their staff performed represented that. It was a present on the basketball courtroom, it wasn’t only a sporting occasion.”
That present adopted the Lakers wherever they went in 2019-20.
After a 101-96 win in Atlanta on Dec. 15, the scene was a spectacle. James and Davis took off their jerseys whereas nonetheless on the courtroom to offer to rapper Boosie Badazz, who was sitting courtside.
“Recreation jerseys, b—-!” Boosie stated on Instagram, displaying the haul on social media after leaving the sport that evening.
Again inside State Farm Enviornment, the guests locker room was packed. Former Lakers ahead Lamar Odom waited by the door to get a second together with his previous staff. There have been so many reporters surrounding James’ locker that they could not hear each other’s questions, inflicting James to be requested twice concerning the play the place he threw a between-the-legs move to a trailing Dwight Howard for a dunk. “We already received that one,” James politely replied.
The Lakers had been 24-3, however Vogel was listless, unimpressed by the marginal win over one of many league’s doormats.
“We now have to tighten some screws,” he stated to reporters afterward.
Dave McMenamin examines the additions and losses to the Lakers’ roster all through the NBA’s hiatus as LeBron James & Co. look to restart their quest for a title.
Dec. 16: JoAnn Buss, mom of Lakers’ governor Jeanie Buss, dies after a long-term sickness.
Dec. 17: Davis misses loss in Indiana due to ankle sprain.
Dec. 19: Bucks beat Lakers, the primary consecutive losses of season.
Dec. 22: James misses first recreation of season, Lakers lose to Nuggets.
Dec. 25: Clippers defeat Lakers for fourth straight loss.
Dec. 28: James performs by means of groin harm as Lakers win in Portland.
AS THE 16TH most populous metropolis of the 28 NBA metropolises, Portland, Oregon, would not have the identical bounty of luxurious motels as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
So when the Lakers rolled by means of city in late December with James and Davis combining their famous person energy with one of the recognizable manufacturers in sports activities, followers fiending for a glimpse of the newest iteration of the Lake Present did not need to dig too onerous earlier than descending on The Nines.
Positioned on the sting of Pioneer Courthouse Sq., the lodge — whose 331 rooms take up the highest 9 flooring of the Meier & Frank Constructing — has grow to be a most popular outpost for former Lakers coach Phil Jackson and stays a staple on the staff’s annual journey itinerary.
Having fun with a renaissance season, the staff was the most popular it had been in years. Throngs of hoopheads braved the winter chilly, huddling by The Nines’ fundamental entrance to catch a glimpse of the then-No. 1 seed within the West.
With the thoroughfare in entrance of the lodge already congested by Portland’s light-rail line and the followers offering an additional impediment for the staff buses to make the mile and a half journey to Moda Middle, the Lakers referred to as an audible. Reasonably than miss the entrance, the Lakers headed down the service elevators, by means of the lodge kitchen and out a street-level auxiliary exit.
“It is one thing I have not skilled for some time,” says veteran Jared Dudley, remembering his time on the Steve Nash-led Phoenix Suns for comparability.
For beginning guard Avery Bradley, seeing the hysteria up shut reminded him of grainy black-and-white footage from the Sixties.
“We felt just like the Beatles,” Bradley says.
AS A TRAINING camp invitee for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2015 and a late-season addition of the New Orleans Pelicans in 2016, Quinn Cook was already acquainted with James and Davis when he joined the Lakers for the 2019-20 season.
These connections had been part of his profession, however his relationship with one of many Lakers’ all-time greats in Bryant was one thing totally different.
“I grew up desirous to be similar to him,” he says. “Idolizing him. I took satisfaction in being the most important Kobe fan ever.”
Cook dinner’s Lakers fandom was handed on from his dad, Ted, who died when Quinn was 14. Lakers followers shortly embraced Cook dinner after he shared a photo as a teenager sporting a white Bryant uniform surrounded by dozens of Lakers jerseys, shirts, jackets and hats. When the Lakers retired Bryant’s Nos. 8 and 24 in December 2017 when L.A. hosted the Golden State Warriors, Cook dinner watched as a member of the opposing staff.
“Simply to see [not just] the love that clearly the Lakers present him, however simply the basketball world. Like your complete world,” Cook dinner says. “I keep in mind, like, the world stopped that day after they retired each his jerseys.”
He had the identical feeling when Bryant attended Lakers video games in November and December. “Everyone would watch the sport after which, simply watch Kobe,” Cook dinner says. “Even the gamers. I caught myself … I hit a shot and I needed to see if Kobe was taking a look at me.”
The Lakers heard of Bryant’s death while flying again to L.A. The evening earlier than, James had handed Bryant for No. 3 on the all-time scoring listing throughout a loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in Bryant’s hometown.
“Your entire week, week and a half main as much as that, we simply noticed Bron and Kobe highlights,” Cook dinner says. “And Bron simply talking on how nice Kobe is and the way a lot he means to him and the way a lot Kobe offers to him. And we had been celebrating him. And clearly for Bron to move Kobe, it wasn’t a Bron vs. Kobe factor — it was Bron and Kobe. They usually’re each Lakers.”
Cook dinner stepped off the airplane at LAX in his Nike Zoom Kobe 4 Protros, in the identical black and white “Del Sol” colorway that Bryant wore to the Lakers’ championship parade in 2009. They had been an intentional alternative. “I used to be sporting Kobes that complete East Coast journey,” he stated.
From there, Cook dinner did not know what to do. “I actually wasn’t pondering,” he says. “I used to be simply heartbroken.” He referred to as his mother and his sister. He referred to as his girlfriend. He referred to as one in all his faculty buddies, Jack Davis, who lives in L.A. and works in leisure.
Davis drove to El Segundo, California, to fulfill Cook dinner on the Lakers’ apply facility. They shared Kobe tales for an hour, and Cook dinner, seeing on social media that followers had been congregating at L.A. Dwell throughout the road from Staples Middle to mourn, received the urge to go.
“Any time I considered the Staples Middle, I considered Kobe Bryant,” he says. “And so I simply needed to go down there and simply pay my respects.”
Cook dinner borrowed a Bryant jersey from his good friend Davis — a blue, scripted, throwback No. 8 jersey — and headed downtown.
“I simply went into, actually, simply fan mode,” Cook dinner says. “Simply boy mode.”
Cook dinner blended in with the ocean of purple-and-gold grievers, and broke into tears as he stared on the black-and-white picture of Kobe and Gigi displayed on the outside video monitor. Though he was surrounded by strangers, he felt comforted.
“Followers had been nice,” Cook dinner says. “It isn’t like they had been shocked to see me, actually. They only patted me on the again. They gave me my house. They let me be. And it was good to be round that sort of love for that little second.”
Within the days that adopted, Cook dinner discovered different methods to honor his idol. He modified his uniform from No. 2, the quantity Gigi wore in her prep leagues, to No. 28, to have fun each father and daughter. Teammate Bradley did not get an opportunity to make it to the gathering downtown, so Cook dinner took Bradley to the impromptu memorial arrange in El Segundo by Lakers vice chairman of facility operations, Lisa Estrada.
There have been candles, flowers, basketballs, sneakers, jerseys and different mementos left in honor. And there have been lengthy white billboards arrange for followers to write down messages in remembrance of Bryant.
Cook dinner picked up a pen.
“I like and miss you a lot already!” he wrote. “You had been the best basketball participant ever and an excellent higher father. Kobe and Gigi will dwell by means of your complete world perpetually. My hero and idol Kobe Bean Bryant!! Love, your greatest fan, Quinn Cook dinner.”
THE MAIN ATTRACTION is at all times LeBron and AD.
Davis, eight years James’ junior, toiled the primary seven years of his profession in New Orleans, craving to win large on a grander stage. James, effectively into his again 9, needed a closing flourish in Los Angeles to cap a stellar profession.
Davis readily took his cues from James, wanting to fill in as his working mate — a state of affairs just a few others chafed at over time.
“You recognize, I was so upset and so, like, down, after we lose a recreation,” Davis says. “And he’d be like, ‘I carried out misplaced in-season collection to a number of groups. However when the playoffs comes, it is totally different.’ … For a man who’s carried out it yr after yr after yr after yr, eight occasions in a row [in the NBA Finals] … if he isn’t worrying, then I am like, ‘All proper, we’re positive.’
“However as soon as he begins getting a little bit upset, it is like, ‘All proper, we all know it is one thing that we have to repair.'”
Although Davis has been keen to take recommendation, he hasn’t shied from giving James the enterprise at occasions. “I mess with him,” Davis says. “I am like, ‘You getting previous, man.’ Earlier this yr, he had a dunk on a break, and it was like one thing so easy. And I advised him, ‘Man, that is a 3.’
“And so when he did the same [dunk] that Kobe did, he got here to me after the sport and stated, ‘Yeah, that was an 8.5, wasn’t it?'”
Confused by the quantity, Davis wanted to be reminded of the needle he gave James months earlier than.
“‘I am not previous but,'” Davis says, paraphrasing James’ quip.
Sharing the story gave Davis a happy smile.
“I am doing my job motivating him,” he says.
LAKERS ASSISTANT COACH Phil Helpful has a particular entry into the “Battle for L.A.” that grew to become a marquee matchup, with the league scheduling Lakers-Clippers on two of its premium calendar spots: opening evening and Christmas Day.
He was an assistant in Cleveland beneath Tyronn Lue, whom the Lakers spurned throughout contract negotiations final summer time by pulling their provide and finally hiring Vogel — somebody whom Lue had prompt to L.A.’s brass when discussing his potential teaching workers, sources say. Lue then joined Doc Rivers’ bench down the hallway at Staples Middle.
Helpful coached Leonard with the Raptors, giving him a relationship with the most important acquisition in Clippers franchise historical past.
The Clippers received the opener by 10, with Leonard outscoring James 30-18. They received on Christmas too, roaring again from a 15-point third-quarter deficit to win by 5.
On March 8, days earlier than the NBA would shut down, the Lakers put a tally on the board, beating the Clippers 112-103. James and Davis performed Leonard and Paul George to a draw, each duos scoring 58 factors, however Bradley put the Lakers excessive with a season-high 24 factors.
“Me personally, I felt like we shot ourselves within the foot,” Helpful says, wanting again on the season collection. “Look, the Clippers are a superb staff, man. They have unbelievable expertise. However I do not really feel that … I felt that, once more, we shot ourselves within the foot in these first two video games, and we should always have received each of them.”
By the point March rolled round, each groups had established two issues: They had been championship contenders, they usually appreciated pushing one another’s buttons.
“Me and T-Lue, we used to speak junk to one another throughout the timeouts throughout the ground,” Helpful says. “Mess with one another. Or Kawhi would come down in entrance of our bench throughout a timeout or one thing, and I might discuss his sneakers. Simply all of these issues. I believe these issues are all a part of the sport and also you attempt to acquire a bonus wherever you possibly can.”
The gamesmanship prolonged off the courtroom.
This season, a large black-and-white Clippers billboard was plastered on a constructing adjoining to the 405 South/105 West freeway interchange close to the Lakers’ UCLA Well being Coaching Middle in El Segundo.
It is the interchange James takes from his Brentwood residence to punch the clock, together with many different Lakers gamers, coaches and staffers. The billboard, up to date all year long, housed the Clippers’ new “L.A. Our Manner” advertising and marketing slogans: “Streetlights over Spotlights,” “Pushed over Given,” “Squad over Self.”
The intent was not misplaced on the Lakers. In a passing second of pettiness, a Lakers staffer prompt the staff hoard promoting house on buildings inside eyesight of the Clippers’ billboard marketing campaign and easily print the franchise’s 16 championship banners. No slogan. No tagline. Merely a reminder of their tangible accomplishments for the opposite staff to stew on.
VOGEL WAS TOO near the stand.
“Frank, if you happen to might simply step again a little bit bit, away from the mics, that might be nice,” a Lakers spokesperson stated.
It was Wednesday afternoon, March 11. The Lakers had been making an attempt to toe the road between normalcy and the brand new world created by COVID-19.
Vogel assumed his common spot by the doorway to the courtroom on the staff’s apply facility and readied himself for the questions certain to come back with a scope far higher than basketball.
Reporters positioned their recording gadgets on a black rolling tray desk — the sort you’d see carting round an overhead projector in a highschool science classroom — and a Lakers staffer rolled the tray near Vogel.
It was an effort, nonetheless nominal, to keep up some measure of security.
The evening earlier than, Davis joked concerning the virus, mentioning a clip had gone viral of him showing to lick his hand earlier than celebrating with Bradley throughout a giant win over the Clippers the earlier weekend.
“Everyone was taking part in and goofing round and calling us the ‘Corona Boys’ as a result of I licked my hand, however I did not. After we had been on the market, I by no means licked my fingers as a result of I considered that truly earlier than I did it,” Davis stated. “I truly considered it and I used to be like, ‘Do not do it.’ So I sort of, like, mimicked it … I am cleaner than that.”
By Wednesday, talking to reporters from the cordoned off nook of the apply facility, Davis’ tone had modified fully.
“You see individuals dying, and increasingly persons are getting affected by the virus. In order that’s actual for me,” Davis stated. “Individuals are shedding their lives.”
MORE THAN A month into the shelter-in-place order in Los Angeles, Flea emerged from the water with basketball on his thoughts.
Following a morning surf on the foot of his Malibu property, the bassist posed a query to Purple Sizzling Chili Peppers bandmate Anthony Kiedis.
“Man, wait, would the Lakers be within the first spherical in opposition to, like, Portland proper now?” Flea requested the entrance man.
On the time of the NBA’s hiatus, the Portland Path Blazers had been 3½ video games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed within the West, however had been anticipating the return of huge man Jusuf Nurkic. Given full well being for the stretch run, the Blazers might have caught the Grizzlies, and Flea, a Lakers season-ticket holder since 1997, fantasized concerning the postseason.
“Totally different gamers on Portland, we would discover causes to hate them,” he says, imagining his mindset with the Lakers again within the playoffs for the primary time since 2013. “Simply all these things, like, worrying about if Anthony Davis’ shoulder is OK. Like this complete factor, it simply left this large void. This large gap in my life, like, this factor that is so enjoyable to be enthusiastic about. …
“It simply left this large gap in my life, and I miss it. I miss all the pieces about it.”
Flea was courtside the final time the Lakers performed on March 10 — a 104-102 loss to the Brooklyn Nets when Davis missed a potential game-winner on the buzzer.
“It was form of like a hangover-after-a-victorious-weekend recreation,” Flea says, not letting the consequence mar what was a renaissance season.
“I simply actually felt this connection that they like one another. There’s this nice Dwight Howard redemption story. There’s these strong gamers like Danny Green and the enjoyable of Alex Caruso actually making it as an NBA participant and searching like he works at H&R Block. There’s this actually cool, enjoyable staff that like one another and assist one another. They usually’re successful. After which we have now this weekend proper on the finish of the season the place we back-to-back beat the Bucks and the Clippers.
“And it is simply probably the most thrilling factor ever after which, growth, hoopus interruptus. The COVID virus hits.”
Whereas he can dismiss the result of the Nets recreation, he cannot shake the circumstances round it. 4 Nets gamers — together with Kevin Durant — and two unnamed Lakers gamers, examined constructive for the coronavirus within the weeks that adopted.
He took fundamental precautions that evening, which really feel nearly pointless on reflection.
“I used to be going to the lavatory and washing my palms on a regular basis and telling my spouse to not hug individuals like she at all times does,” Flea says.
In the meantime, he noticed Nets gamers work together with followers within the entrance row. He noticed his 80-year-old buddy, NBA superfan Jimmy Goldstein, congregating within the area alongside 18,997 potential carriers.
“Trying again,” Flea says, “I used to be like, ‘Jeez, the coronavirus was flying far and wide!'”
He misses his Lakers. And, with the resumption of the season unsure in mid-April, Flea can solely think about what it might be like for James to overlook out on an opportunity at one other ring.
“He might have received a championship this yr and that might have been — for him to win it with three totally different groups and being just like the main man — it might be superb for him,” Flea says.
“And I needed that for him. I knew how nice he was, however to look at him intently the way in which that I did all season, it is simply, God, you possibly can’t assist however pull for the man.”
Could 12: NBPA president Chris Paul organizes a name with James, Davis, Leonard, Antetokounmpo, Durant, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook; the group involves consensus endorsing a return to play so long as correct security precautions are met.
Could 25: George Floyd is killed in Minneapolis, main NBA players to speak out against police brutality.
Could 30: Lakers gamers, at Bradley’s suggestion, share a unified message on their social media accounts: “If YOU ain’t wit US, WE ain’t wit Y’ALL!”
June 4: The league’s board of governors votes to resume the season with 22 groups in Orlando, Florida, on the finish of July.
June 15: A participant coalition, led by Bradley and Brooklyn’s Kyrie Irving, holds a call with nearly 100 participants to gauge curiosity in ending the season and determine what concessions the league must make.
June 23: Bradley opts out of Orlando, citing coronavirus concerns for his 6-year previous son, who has struggled recovering from respiratory diseases prior to now.
July 17: The NBA sends memo informing groups that regular-season awards will probably be based mostly solely on video games performed by means of March 11 with votes due earlier than the eight seeding video games in Orlando start. James, averaging a career-high 10.6 assists, turns into the oldest participant in league historical past to earn his first help title.
IT HAD BEEN 132 days since anybody exterior of the Lakers’ group had seen the staff on the courtroom collectively.
“1-2-3, Mamba!” they bellowed in unison as they broke from a pre-practice huddle on July 21.
Traditionally, that is the time on the calendar when James visits his trip residence in Cabo San Lucas. However now, the season is about to renew in what would be the longest highway journey of his profession.
“Yearly goes to have some issues that you must modify to that you could be not be prepared for,” James stated, sporting a bushy beard as he stared right into a flat-screen monitor simply exterior the courtroom in The Enviornment.
“Everybody retains asking, ‘How is the bubble?’ or, ‘How is it going?’ and I simply say, ‘It is 2020.’ Nothing is regular in 2020. Nothing appears as is, and who is aware of if it’s going to ever return to the way in which it was.”
The Lakers ended their first full apply in months on a makeshift courtroom, sitting atop the Western Convention standings with a possibility to contend for a title that was so tenuous simply weeks prior. 9 months have handed for the reason that Lakers first discovered themselves in a makeshift bubble in Shanghai.
As gamers lingered on the courtroom, James went about his post-workout cool-down routine: sitting on a purple train ball as he chatted with Davis, fulfilling his media obligations, then peeling off his No. 6 apply jersey for an ice bag to be affixed to his decrease again earlier than sipping from a gallon jug of water combined with Ladder hydration dietary supplements as he exits the health club. The cease to the season threw off his meticulous coaching routine, however there was little indication of rust as staff actions resumed.
“Fairly constant,” a staff supply says of James’ health post-hiatus. “Leaned up only a tad, however fairly even.”
Indicators of his 17 years within the league — the newest carrying extra consequence than 12 months are geared up to carry — is represented on his face. That bushy beard is splashed with flecks of grey and two patches of white on both aspect the place his jawline meets beneath the ears.
It is a look becoming for the elder statesman.
July 30: The NBA resumes common season play, with 22 of the league’s 30 groups invited to Orlando to play in eight seeding video games earlier than the playoffs.
Aug. 24: The Lakers put on Black Mamba jerseys on Kobe Bryant Day with a brand new commemorative patch for Gianna Bryant.
Aug. 25: Giannis Antetokounmpo wins 2019-20 Defensive Participant of the Yr; Anthony Davis finishes second in the voting.
Aug. 26: The Bucks boycott their recreation with the Orlando Magic as a protest in response to the taking pictures of an unarmed Black man, Jacob Blake, within the again by Kenosha law enforcement officials. The league suspends play till Friday, Aug. 28.
Aug. 29: The Lakers defeat the Path Blazers in the first round of the playoffs in five games.
Sep. 4: Rajon Rondo returns to the lineup for Recreation 1 after fracturing his thumb in July and affected by again spasms.
Sep. 8: LeBron James passes former Laker Derek Fisher for the most wins by a player in NBA playoff historical past.
Sep. 12: The Lakers defeat the Rockets in the second round of the playoffs in five games.
Sep. 16: Kyle Kuzma says the Lakers had been ‘never focused‘ on the Clippers, a day after the Clippers misplaced in Recreation 7 to the Nuggets within the convention semifinals.
Sep. 18: Giannis Antetokounmpo wins his second consecutive MVP award; LeBron James finishes second in the voting.
Sep. 20: Anthony Davis sinks a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer to offer the Lakers a 2-0 collection lead.
Sep. 26: The Lakers defeat the Nuggets in the conference finals in five games.
Oct. 11: The Lakers defeat the Miami Warmth to win the franchise’s 17th NBA championship. It’s LeBron James’ fourth title.