LeBron James is going back to the NBA Finals for the 10th time in his career. On Saturday, the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Denver Nuggets in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals and will now face the Miami Heat for the championship. After the game, James told reporters that his drive to win has to do with the late Kobe Bryant, who won five titles during his time with the Lakers.
"Every time you put on purple and gold, you think about his legacy and what he meant to this franchise for 20-plus years, James said as reported by PEOPLE, noting that the two shared the same "mindset" about wanting "to be the best." James also talked about Bryant's Mamba Mentality being a vital part of the team's success this season.
"That drive to always want to be victorious, it stops you from sleeping," James added. "You sacrifice a lot of things, you sacrifice your family at times because you're so driven to be so great that other things fall by the wayside at times. I understand that. I'm one of the few that can understand the mindset that he played."
James made history on Saturday, becoming the fourth player in NBA history to reach the NBA Finals at least 10 times. The other three are Bill Russell, Sam Jones and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. James is happy about going back to the NBA Finals, but he's focused on getting his fourth championship ring.
"Right now, it don't mean s— unless I get it done," he said. "I got to get it done." James has had his share of playoff disappointments over the years. The last time he won the NBA Finals was in 2016, when he led the Cleveland Cavaliers over the Golden State Warriors. However, the Warriors were able to beat James and the Cavs in 2017 and 2018. James' first NBA Finals appearance was in 2007 when he was a member of the Cavs. The team lost the to San Antonio Spurs in four games. Since 2011 James has appeared in the NBA Finals all but one year, which was the 2018-2019 season.
"We're going to enjoy it tonight, as we should, because this is not promised every year," James said. "There's only two teams that can advance to the Finals every year. That means pretty much 30 players that only advance every year to the Finals. We're going to enjoy it tonight, but we understand we have bigger fish to fry."