A Rookie of the Year award, one scoring title, two All-Star MVPs, eight NBA All-Star and All-NBA selections, a gold medal and most recently a third MVP award. Between his years with the Cleveland Cavaliers and his most recent run with the Miami Heat, LeBron James has compiled quite a closet of honors throughout his eight years of NBA experience. One thing remains missing.
Even though it is a team accomplishment, James’ legacy won’t be complete until a ring is placed on his finger. And even one ring won’t even be enough in the eyes of NBA fans, analysts, players and coaches. There has to be a starting point, however, and if James does not help his team get it done this year LeBron’s legacy will be questioned more than ever.
A loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Finals will erase anything miraculous he has done so far this postseason, which includes 13 30+ point performances, a field goal percentage of 50.2 percent and a postseason career-high 9.5 rebounds. All that will be remembered are LeBron’s failings and how again “he” couldn’t get the job done.
Something different about LeBron’s play this postseason compared to his time with the Cavaliers is that it’s not the problem. With Chris Bosh missing time and Dwyane Wade not coming up as big as the Heat expected him to, James has had to put a lot of the workload on himself. That’s exactly what LeBron needs to do to create a legacy comparable to some of the greatest NBA players in the history of the game.
Players like Shane Battier, James Jones and Mario Chalmers have been along for the ride to help at times, but LeBron knows that as the best player in the league he has to be able to take over in order for his team to win. Making all 12 of his free throws in Game 2 to secure the first victory the Thunder has allowed at home all playoffs long put any questions of James’ clutch gene to rest, at least until Game 3.