Monday, June 18, 2012

'No Ring . . . No Love?'

LeBron still searching for that first ring.
Hate is a strong word . . . unless of course, you're talking about LeBron James.  Many basketball fans use that term loosely when referring to him, and there are legitimate reasons as to why James, once one of the most beloved players in the NBA, has gradually turned into the league's top villain.  His biggest and most flagrant PR mistake: the sanctimonious departure from his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers in order to join forces with superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in South Beach.  The knock ever since is that James will never be as great as his idol, Michael Jordan, because of his inability/unwillingness to close in crunch time and carry a team to an NBA title. 
Last year, James' contribution in the Finals was considered marginal at best for a player of his caliber, and much of the blame for the Miami Heat failure to finish once again fell on his shoulders.  But in this 2012 postseason, James has been the clear-cut catalyst for the Heat, who are two wins away from a championship for the second year in a row.  LeBron put in two career performances in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics in Game 6 and 7 when facing elimination that for most players would be career defining.  Even in the Finals against the ever-so-likeable Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder, James has carried MIA on both ends of the floor and has not disappeared in crunch time, and the Heat hold a 2-1 series lead. 
But for most LeBron critics, it all won't mean a thing unless he gets two more wins.  It's probably unfair the amount of pressure put on James to win a ring --pressure from the media and pressure he put on himself -- because the longer it takes to get that ring, the greater a burden it becomes on a player who is not yet 30 years old and is a 3-time league MVP.  And then there is the possibility that he won't get love until he wins more than one championship (since LeBron was the one that promised Heat fans multiple championships).  Nowhere in sports history has a player needed to win more than one title to validate an already Hall of Fame career . . . but of course, we are talking about LeBron James.

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