(Reuters) - The performance by LeBron James in the thrilling NBA Finals ranks near the top all-time, says Hall of Famer Magic Johnson, adding he felt “sick” that the series was over.
“For a basketball junkie like I am, I just loved it,” Johnson told ESPN Radio on Wednesday about the series claimed 4-2 by the Golden State Warriors over James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
”I was actually sick that the series is over,“ added Johnson, who won five NBA title rings with the Los Angeles Lakers. ”It was just truly greatness, and right in front of our eyes.
“It was a true delight and pleasure for me to watch Stephen Curry and LeBron James play in this series. Steph Curry is probably the greatest shooter we have ever seen. LeBron was the best player in the series. He dominated the series.”
Johnson said James raised his game to a new level, as he became the first to lead all players in an NBA Finals in points, assists and rebounds.
“This is as good as we’ve ever seen. It won’t be the top because he did lose. So we’re going to have to still go with (Michael) Jordan as one, but now he can probably take number two spot. It will be 1-A Jordan and 1-B LeBron,” Johnson said.
Despite Johnson’s comments, James did not win the Most Valuable Player award for the series. Instead, it went to Golden State’s Andre Iguodala, who received seven of 11 votes from the voting panel.
Playing without injured team mates Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, James nearly lifted undermanned Cleveland to the city’s first major professional team title in 50 years.
”Cleveland, get ready. You’re going to win probably two championships at least with this guy.
“It won’t be too long that you’ll be celebrating and you’ll have confetti coming down on their heads and the city will just be going crazy,” he said.
Some oddsmakers agree.
Cleveland was made an early 3-1 favorite to win next year’s NBA title by Bovada, rating them ahead of Golden State 5-1, Oklahoma City 7-1 and Chicago, LA Clippers and San Antonio, all at 10-1.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York.; Editing by Andrew Both