Steve Kerr has had to put a lot of time and energy into preparing for LeBron James during his time as the Warriors’ head coach. Golden State has squared off with LeBron 38 times since Kerr took over, including 22 times in the NBA Finals.
Kerr also was a broadcaster before joining the Warriors’ coaching staff, and was on the call for plenty of James’ playoff games over his decorated NBA career. During an interview with 95.7 The Game’s “Damon, Ratto and Kolsky,” Kerr explained why he believes that despite LeBron being 35 years old, James looks better than he did when he was at his athletic peak with the Miami Heat.
“I think LeBron is actually a way better player now than he was six years ago when he played in Miami,” Kerr said. “It’s remarkable watching the offensive transformation since then, and his confidence in his shooting, and that’s what Miami has to deal with.”
Kerr had to deal with that offensive transformation up close, as the Warriors faced LeBron's Cleveland Cavaliers four straight times in the NBA Finals from 2015-18. James arguably could have been the MVP of the 2015 series despite losing in six games to the Warriors, and officially won after Cleveland upset Golden State in the 2016 Finals.
James and the Los Angeles Lakers rolled through the 2020 NBA Playoffs after being the best team in the Western Conference through the regular season. James controversially finished second in the MVP voting to Giannis Antetokounmpo, but has posted four triple-doubles in the postseason and led the Lakers to a matchup with one of James’ former team in the Finals.
Los Angeles definitely looked like the superior team in Game 1, as they rolled to a 116-98 win over the Heat behind a 25-point, 13-rebound and nine-assist performance from James.
Being in the West means there won’t be any more NBA Finals showdowns between LeBron and the Warriors, but it wouldn’t be surprising if these two teams faced off in next year’s playoffs, if the Warriors can return to being one of the NBA’s top squads after a brutal 2019-20 season.