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LeBron James is celebrating his Los Angeles Lakers clinching the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference even though the home-court advantage is virtually meaningless inside the NBA bubble.
James told the Los Angeles Times that he'll "enjoy this one" because skeptics "said I couldn't do it."
The 16-time NBA All-Star spent the first 15 years of his career playing in the Eastern Conference, which has been regarded as the less competitive of the two in recent years.
This season marks the first time the King has dominated out West, suggesting that his success was not dependent on competing against weaker opponents in the East.
A No. 1 seed heading into the NBA playoffs means less than ever before, but that won't stop LeBron James from celebrating his Los Angeles Lakers' latest feat.
David Zalubowski/AP Images
With a win against the Utah Jazz on Monday, the purple and gold secured the top spot in the Western Conference for the first time in 10 seasons. And though clinching the first seed doesn't come with its usual high prize of home-court advantage, James told the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli that he'll "enjoy this one" a little bit extra because skeptics "said I couldn't do it."
"I can just say it feels damn good to be the number one seed in the West," James said. "For me, personally."
The 16-time All-Star spent the first 15 seasons of his 17-year career playing in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which has been regarded as the less competitive of the two conferences in recent years. Many of James' doubters attributed his years of success with the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat to facing weaker opponents in the East, but his breakthrough with the Lakers this season suggests that his dominance is not dependent on which conference he plays in.
James has clearly been taking note of haters as he reaches the twilight of his career. After recording his third consecutive triple-double with a 30-10-11 stat line against the Chicago Bulls in November, the four-time NBA MVP quietly rebuffed claims that his reign atop the NBA had come to an end via his Twitter.
—LeBron James (@KingJames) November 6, 2019
Last month, James all but confirmed that he used those doubts as motivation throughout the 2020 season — his second with Los Angeles. He told the press that his continued supremacy with the Lakers at 35 years old "showed what I'm capable of doing" and should be factored in "as far as the MVP race."
"There was a lot of conversation about, 'LeBron can do those things in the East but if he ever came to the West what can he do?'" James said. "I heard all of that."
"To have our team at the top of the Western Conference and playing the way that we were playing... that's definitely a good feeling," he added.
—Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) July 20, 2020
James and the Lakers will play five more games to close out the regular season before taking on the Western Conference's eighth seed — which six squads are currently vying for down the stretch — in the opening round of the playoffs.
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