The King finally has a jewel for his crown. LeBron James is an NBA champion today.
All of the critiques, all of the malice, all of the jokes, any unjust and unproven belittlement of James can be put to rest now. All of the vitriol and venom that the public had for James will now begin to dissipate because LeBron James is an NBA champion and a Finals MVP.
The first words that LeBron uttered as he was holding the Larry O’Brien trophy in hand were “Its about damn time”. I second that notion as well–it is about damn time. We’ve been waiting for this day since James stepped in the league with unquestionable talent and potential. We all had a feeling that this day would come; we just didn’t know when. When he reached the Finals in 2007 after carrying a Cavaliers team with a very mediocre roster, we all knew this was coming.
The majority of the public thought that James didn’t stand a chance against these Spurs and they were right. He ended up being swept, but every champion has to take his lumps. Kevin Durant took his lumps yesterday, Derrick Rose took his last season and even during his injury plagued season, Dwight Howard has taken his. LeBron took his with that sweep. He took his after no one had given him any before. Those were moments that were new to LeBron.
All throughout his basketball career he had been the best at what he did. LeBron was a basketball prodigy. He was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at the age of 16. There was so much expected of this young man with no father in his life at such a young age. He lived up to every single expectation that he had–above expectation, even. When LeBron entered into the NBA it was like a dream story had come to life. A kid born and raised in Akron, Ohio was supposed to bring the team that Ohio loved to the promised land. It sounded great. Everything was going oh so well and according to plan.
After those Finals versus the Spurs, LeBron had won two MVPs. The expectations began to evolve into a monster of disappointment as seven years into his career, James hadn’t won the most important piece of hardware that a basketball player could get. People were beginning to question where his heart was and if he was just a waste of talent. People had began to call him selfish because of his impending free agency and that got to him.
The Larry O’Brien was forever eluding his hands because they were already filled with the thoughts and hopes of others. He was carrying a city that was thirsty for a championship–and still is today. James’ talent was something Cleveland hadn’t seen since Jim Brown stopped running the ball for the Browns. There was a lot of pressure heaped on James’ back with that. James was always playing for someone else and not himself. When it finally came time to make a decision that was best for him, he did so. He made the move to South Beach with two fellow friends and All-Stars.
James didn’t have the supporting cast to eventually take a title home to Cleveland so he broke his promise. Of course, James still had love for Cleveland, but that wasn’t reciprocated in the least bit. As James left for Miami to go title chasing with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, better pieces than he ever had in Cleveland, there were people burning his jerseys and cursing the James name in his home state.
The venom that James received because of this move was unlike any other in the history of the NBA–professional sports, even. James is the most scrutinized athlete of all time because of the technology in the age that we’re all living in. 10 years ago, the slander that James faces today wouldn’t be twenty times as bad as what he’s facing today. When he first entered the league he was look at as a Godsend for the NBA. He was supposed to save the league and give everyone someone who they can love. He’s saved the league in the post-Jordan era. He’s just done it in a very different way.
He’s less of an ego-maniac than Shaq and Kobe. He’s more flamboyant than Tim Duncan. He doesn’t have the moxy of an Allen Iverson. James is a more polarizing figure than all of those guys because of the high expectation and the unlimited potential that he came into the league with. Some say that James felt entitled to everything that was given to him throughout his life. In some instances some would be correct, but we don’t really know what goes through his mind. James is his own man and he plays his own game.
That game is now the style of a champion. LeBron has accomplished everything that he’s been expected to do and he’s grown up in the process. He’s said multiple times that he played angry last season. Even last night during his press conference he had a pretty revealing quote.
I played to prove people wrong instead of just playing my game, instead of just going out and having fun and playing a game that I grew up loving and why I fell in love with the game.
Those are the words of a champion recognizing his path to the highest pedestal. Now, he must do it all over again. Except for this time, he’s got the experience and the know how. Here’s to the great journey that will be the rest of LeBron James’ career. Let’s get back to basketball, folks.