Since he’s entered the NBA, I’ve been what many would consider a “hater” of Lebron James. I didn’t like an 18 year-old kid entering a league with the nicknames “The Chose One” and “King James”. Granted, he was a kid back then, but one that lacked self-awareness and maturity. I “hated” on him even harder when he created the “Decision” and made a spectacle of himself. I laughed when he lost the title that first year in Miami, and was bitter the following two years when he won his first and second championship(s).
What James has done so far in this year’s Finals have been nothing short of sensational. He’s carried the load for a team that has a remaining roster of players [outside of Shumpert and Thompson] that wouldn’t be the top choices for a pick-up game. He’s scored the most points ever in the first 3 games of the Finals (123) and it’s evident (especially after last night’s Game 4 loss) that this team will only go as far as he takes them.
The spotlight on James is brighter than on any other player in the league. Now to be fair, he’s brought that on himself. When you come into a league anointing yourself a “King” before you win anything, expectations are going to be set. Let’s remember, HE’S the one who tattooed “Chosen One” across his back and wanted to be compared to Michael Jordan. Now, I’m willing to admit that some of the criticism that he’s received over the course of his career has been a little much, but it’s not like a majority of it wasn’t warranted.
With that being said, I’ve come to an extremely unfortunate conclusion:
If James wins the NBA Championship this year, I will consider him [and accept] that he’s the greatest basketball player to ever play the game. He would accomplish a feat that no other player has, not even Jordan. There has never been a superstar that has ever won a championship by himself; Jordan didn’t win without Pippen, Magic had Kareem, Kobe & Shaq etc. James has JR Smith and Matthew Dellavedova; not exactly an al-star lineup. Not to mention his playing against a heavily favored [although a bit inexperienced] Golden State Warriors team that won 67 games this season.
I have been one of James’ largest critics throughout his career, but there’s no denying the greatness that he’s displayed. As a basketball fan, I grew up watching Jordan and believed that there would never be another player who could do what he did; and that belief may very well change by the end of these Finals. Even if the Cavs don’t pull this out, there’s a valid argument to make James the Finals MVP, even though he’d be on the losing team (he’d be the 2nd player ever to accomplish that feat, Jerry West was the first).
James has an opportunity to not only change my perspective (not that it means anything in the scope of things) but the perspective of all those who have questioned the legitimacy of his hype all these years. If he walks away at the end of these Finals holding that trophy, he will cement his legacy as the greatest of all-time.