LeBron James lorded over the Eastern Conference for nearly a decade, making eight straight Finals from 2011 to 2018 with the Heat and Cavaliers.
Two of the teams James regularly beat en route to those Finals appearances in the Eastern Conference Playoffs were the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors. On Monday, Paul George and Norman Powell, now teammates on the Clippers, commiserated over their shared experience of getting taken out by LeBron in the playoffs, swapping stories on George’s Podcast P show of how James was just an insurmountable obstacle at that time. Powell recalled James’ ability to know the Raptors’ playbook as a particularly demoralizing factor in their losses to the Cavs, as James wouldn’t just call out their plays, but every variant, cut, and counter they were about to run.
At one point, Powell remembered LeBron telling one of Toronto’s players what they were supposed to be doing on a play when that player turned to the bench to ask for the play call.
LeBron was wreaking havoc in the Eastern Conference
— Podcast P with Paul George (@PodcastPShow) October 30, 2023
As Powell noted, LeBron’s mind just operated on a “totally different level” as he’d call out the play and the various audibles for the Cavs to best defend each set. On the other end, they both explained how James would just enter a zone where it didn’t matter what defense you run, he was just gonna hit turnaround jumpers on you.
There are a lot of teams over the last decade-plus of the NBA who will always wonder what could’ve been had LeBron’s Heat and Cavs teams or Steph Curry’s Warriors teams not existed, but the further removed they get from those series, the more they’re able to appreciate the level James played at, even if it was at their expense.