James is 2-4 in the NBA's championship series, which some claim is a blemish on his resume that includes 12 All-Star appearances, four MVPs and two NBA Finals MVPs. West blasted those critics Saturday, per Stefan Bondy of the New York Daily News:
James is playing in his sixth straight Finals, but Michael Jordan, the man he is often compared to, is a perfect 6-0 on basketball's grandest stage.
While a .333 winning percentage is not ideal, the fact that James has even made it to the Finals so many times is a testament to his ability.
According to Sharon Katz of FiveThirtyEight.com, the weak supporting casts James has carried to the Finals mean he has already made 2.5 appearances more than he should have, given his teams' pre-playoff Basketball Power Index rating. ESPN uses BPI to measure a team's strength compared to the rest of the league.
James had above a 50 percent chance of winning the NBA Finals in just three of his appearances, per Katz. The BPI gave Cleveland a 25 percent chance of defeating the Golden State Warriors this year before Thursday's Game 1 loss.
West acknowledged this in his defense of James, per Bleacher Report's Kevin Ding:
West knows what disappointment in the NBA Finals feels like. In his illustrious 14-year career, he led the Los Angeles Lakers to nine Finals appearances, but he only won one title, in 1972.
What James is doing is incredible, as every year it seems to be a given his team will play for the Larry O'Brien Trophy. West is right to defend him, but a comeback against the Warriors would help silence James' critics.
Game 2 is set for Sunday in Oakland at 8 p.m. ET.