By Wesley Kaminsky
You didn’t want to admit it, but you knew LeBron James would be holding up the Larry O’Brien trophy one day. In fact, you had to know it was coming pretty soon.
It took him nine seasons, two NBA finals losses, two eastern conference finals losses, and three MVP’s, but James has finally reached his goal. A long, overdue goal. A weight off the chest of the guy who guaranteed he would bring multiple titles to Miami.
We all know the story of LeBron, and why there is now this cult as to why it is appropriate to root for him to fail. Believe me, I’m one of those guys. I could write all day about how I feel about the infamous “Decision,” in which LeBron became the most hated athlete in pro sports. I’m not getting into that today.
It’s time to appreciate his greatness. Did I just say that out loud?
After falling just short of winning a championship his first year in Miami, all the pressure was on James in the upcoming season. The Heat had just fallen to the Mavericks, dropping three straight games after leading 2-1, and the blame was all on LeBron. Rightfully so. It was LeBron who shied away from the spotlight in the fourth quarter of many of the games. It was LeBron who didn’t look like he wanted to be there. His poor finals performance fueled his haters and it validated all the criticism that he had been receiving throughout his career. Stuff like, “LeBron doesn’t have that killer attitude.”
Blah, blah, blah.
What you didn’t realize was that it fueled LeBron, and a monster was created.
In a shortened, compressed season, LeBron put up the same numbers he’s been putting up his entire career. He finished the regular season averaging 27 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists, which is just routine LeBron. It earned him his third MVP award. The award meant nothing, really. So what if LeBron wins another MVP award? The only thing people care about is winning a ring. The bad news was that LeBron was getting ready to win both. Oh, and a NBA finals MVP. More on that later.
Was this going to be the year the Heat reached their goal? Just like last year, it was championship or bust for Miami. With Derrick Rose tearing his ACL on the first day of the playoffs, the stage was set for the Heat to return to the championship. What we didn’t know however was how resilient they would be in the playoffs.
After breezing past the Knicks in the first round, the Heat faced a 2-1 hole against the Pacers. Just like the media tends to do in sports, they overreacted. They hit the panic button and were already planning on Erik Spoelstra getting fired. Then, in Game 4, James and Wade combined for 70 points, turning the series around as the Heat would win the next three games.
Next up, it was the veteran-laden Boston Celtics, without Chris Bosh for much of it. After the Heat won the first two games in Miami, Boston stormed back, winning the next three games. The Heat were on the ropes. Spoelstra’s job was on the line, and the “Big Three” of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh, apparently needed to be split up because they couldn’t mesh well together. Thanks, Chris Broussard, for that.
All the pressure was on the shoulders of LeBron James, the King. The sports world was just waiting for him to fold and lay down like last year. This time was different though. LeBron was a different animal. And on June 7, 2012, James put on one of the best playoff performances of all time, pouring in 45 points, 15 rebounds, and 5 assists in a 98-79 victory.
30 of those points came in the first half.
In an elimination game.
In the Boston Garden.
If that’s not resilience, than I’m not sure what is. I have a feeling when we look back at all of LeBron’s titles, we will be talking about Game 6 in Boston. Yes, I think he will win multiple titles. In Game 7, the Heat overcame a seven point halftime deficit to beat the Celtics 101-88, earning a trip back to the NBA finals against the Thunder.
Just like in their previous two series’, the Heat trailed, this time only 1-0. After losing Game 1 in Oklahoma City, the Heat stormed back to win the next four, finally crowning LeBron as an NBA champion. The Heat became the first team in NBA history to win a championship when trailing in three series. What can you say about him now?
Writing about it now, it almost doesn’t seem real. It’s hard to believe that LeBron finally won a title. LeBron put it best saying, “It’s about damn time.”
Wasn’t it so easy to take the easy way out and say LeBron is overrated because he hadn’t won a ring? James averaged 30.5 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.3 assists during the playoffs, including 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.2 assists per game during the NBA finals. That’s a pretty special playoffs if you ask me.
Even with this championship, will it change peoples’ perception of him?
Absolutely not. LeBron winning a title is the worst nightmare of sports fans come true, especially if you live in Cleveland. There are also those people who will never get over the “Decision,” and that will never change. The funny thing about the hate for LeBron is that it all stems from an hour-long ESPN special. Not because of anything he’s ever done off the court. He’s not a guy who has ever been a problem in the locker room, with the media, or anything. His teammates love him. I won’t mention Delonte West.
The truth is that LeBron winning a championship validates everything he has done throughout his career. He won the Heat this championship, not Dwyane Wade. He showed Kevin Durant that he is the true MVP.
And to think, I don’t even like LeBron. At all. There is something about the guy I just cannot stand. But It’s time to finally appreciate him, as if it wasn’t before.
Stay tuned for the next edition of TheSportsKraze.