From the most hated to the champion of god flow: LeBron James knows that feeling too well.
“No one man should have all that power.”
It’s no secret that LeBron is the NBA, as the NBA is LeBron. He’s currently the most recognized athlete in all of basketball, eclipsing Kobe Bryant’s dwindling reputation as he sets off for the sunset, while also separating himself from co-Nike athlete, Kevin Durant. What James wears will be the next big thing tomorrow. What James says will be the headlines the next day. What James does will be the talk of the town in a couple hours.
Love him or hate him, LeBron James is everywhere.
Love him for being the voice of the kids who don’t have anything, and yet still dare to dream of being someone in this world, striving for greatness. Hate him for hiding in the Boys and Girls Club in Ohio, when he made the switch to Miami, leaving a promise broken for a city hungry for a win. Love him for being the 2-time Finals MVP and 4-time Season MVP, while continuing to improve his game and his potential. Hate him for losing his confidence during the 2011 NBA Finals against Dallas (1.8 ppg in 4Q of the series), and not doing enough to stop the Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.
He could score, rebound, pass, and defend all 5 positions, but it still wouldn’t be enough for his critics. Not even Kobe Bryant faced these kinds of questions regarding his game during his peak years. But not even Kobe can accomplish what LeBron has done for Cleveland, Miami, and the NBA.
“The clock’s ticking, I just count the hours.”
7 years. 2 MVPs. 0 rings. The whispers of him not being a winner is slowly getting loud. The best team in the NBA with the pivotal home-court advantage throughout the 2010 Playoffs that suffered another playoff loss to Boston was the last push to break the ice of LeBron’s relationship with the Cavaliers. Off to the private jet that was going back to Ohio, and his Cleveland jersey was nowhere in sight. Dan Gilbert and Mike Brown knew then, the MVP is not coming back. He needed to make the most important decision he’ll ever go through, while thinking about what was best for his family, and his career.
At the same time, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were available in the free agent market. They weren’t any getting younger by the hour. All of them tried to do it on their own, but they couldn’t move past the horrible losses that have piled up. Even Superman needed Batman to win. Legacy on the line, LeBron decided to form the most criticized big-three in NBA history.
Their first season was half-bust, half-brilliance. They started with a paltry 9-8 record, way below the expectations of many casual NBA fans who were naming them the best team in NBA history. No team was hated more than the ’10-’11 Miami Heat. How could they team up when there was supposed to be a competitive balance in the NBA? Has LeBron James finally conceded the fact that he can’t do it by himself?
They then accepted the villain role, and went on a roll. He was mad. People seldom forget how good he was that season – his averages of 26.7 ppg, 7.5 rpg, and 7 apg on 51% shooting speaks for itself. Believe it or not, despite those numbers, he wasn’t voted the NBA’s MVP. His focus was on his first ring though, the only way his name will be forever included in the top echelon of greatest players to ever play. That dream had to wait when Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks took care of business in the ’11 NBA Finals.
It’s all back to zero for all three of them.
“Stop tripping, I’m tripping off the power.”
It was all too familiar. LeBron started the ’11-’12 season without any ring to showcase. It was tough, but at the same time, held him down to earth. His post game was reconstructed with the help of Hakeem Olajuwon, and he had to make playing basketball fun again. The villain tag was off. He was there to not only win, but to help his team improve. They matched their best start to the season (16-5) with all cylinders firing for the Miami Heat. He continued to collect accolades throughout the season, each award humbled him and letting everyone know he couldn’t have done it without his teammates. Order was back in the NBA as the Miami Heat were back on top.
The New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers, and the Boston Celtics gave valiant efforts to stop their quest for a ring, but the Heat were just too strong. It was an exhilarating debut for both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook in the NBA Finals, but they were no match. No one was stopping him from getting his first ring. The weight on his shoulder was gone – he’s now a winner.
The next season was one of the toughest years for Miami; defending their crown through an 82-grueling season with all teams playing their best against them. It didn’t matter again. A Ray Allen 3-pointer saved the whole team, and James did the rest in Game 7 to cement their status as one of the most dominating teams in league history. They had everything. LeBron James is now a 2-time champion. The quest for a 3 peat begins.
“Till then, f*** that, the world’s ours.”
LeBron James and the Miami Heat would go on to an unprecedented 4th straight Finals appearance, something that has not been done in the last 30 years of the league. This time, it wasn’t a fairy tale ending. He lost to the San Antonio Spurs, who proved that they really were the best team during that season.
James was now 2 out of 5 during the NBA Finals.
In comparison with his peers, Jordan and Kobe were 6/6 and 5/7 respectively.
It didn’t bother him that much. In fact, he was taught on how to become a winner by the Miami organization, that he became the teacher when he went back to Cleveland. He wasn’t going to make any promises this time to his beloved hometown. Love him or hate him, we have to respect him. From the villain to the hero. Like his game, LeBron James just makes everything easy.
Not even Michael Jordan can accomplish what he has done for Cleveland, Miami, and the NBA.
– David Gamboa
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