Ever since the 2010/11 NBA season, LeBron James got used to reaching the NBA Finals in the Eastern Conference. During his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was clearly the hardest rival in the conference for the rest of the teams. Plenty of squads suffered against the King but the biggest loser during LeBron’s era in Cleveland have to be the Toronto Raptors, which couldn’t win a single series against Bron’s Cavs.
DeMar DeRozan, one of the biggest figures of that Raptors team, recently talked about how focused the team was to beat LeBron, knowing that beating him meant they were going to the Finals. Sadly, they were never able to defeat James, who earned the nickname of ‘LeBronto’ thanks to his domination over the Raptors.
“For years I always got so much flak. People don’t realize it’s tough to get past this motherf**ker. I don’t care who you are. To see him come to the west and be able to do the same thing it’s a testament to his greatness and his IQ of the game,” DeRozan said on JJ Redick’s podcast, ‘The Old Man and the Three.’
— TheOldMan&TheThree (@OldManAndThree) October 9, 2020
He told a story of the time LeBron blew his mind with his basketball IQ. The Raptors reached the Conference Finals for the first time in 2016, but Bron was ready to get rid of them and end their hopes to make it to the biggest stage.
“I remember it was a play we were trying to run when our teammates forgot the play and LeBron told him the play. It was some crazy stuff. We call a play and he (teammate) was like ‘What’ and Bron told him what our play was. It’s a testament to who he is, why he has been to 10 Finals, and why he is on the verge of getting his fourth ring.”
Redick explained that it was really hard to beat Bron in the playoffs and players had to put the maximum effort and a little more to get to beat him.
“It’s incredibly difficult to beat a LeBron team four times in a series … He’s just unbeatable in the playoffs, he’s so tough to beat. And it takes just a certain level of intellect to get to his level.”
James always had a big impact on the Raptors. He dominated them throughout his entire time with the Cavaliers in the 2010s. Curiously, after he left Cleveland to go to Los Angeles, the Raptors won the title. That time, though, DeRozan wasn’t leading the team. Instead, Kawhi Leonard took them to the promised land in a surprising season for the Canadians.