The first eight years of his NBA career, LeBron James hadn’t earned his moniker any more than other shameless souls who sit on a throne of their own making.
You see, a true king is a leader. He’s a man who fought hard and overcame adversity to take that throne. He earned it.
After these NBA Finals, a 4-games-to-1 Miami Heat win over the upstart Oklahoma City Thunder–LeBron can now lay claim to all the spoils of being a king.
Let me admit something right now: I’m chowing down on a heaping helping of crow here. I’ve never been a LeBron fan. I never faulted him for leaving Cleveland, but the way he left was abhorrent. Moreover, a man of his immense physical talents and abilities should never have to play the role of sidekick to anyone.
Yet, there he was taking his talents to South Beach to be Robin to Dywane Wade’s Batman. He came off as either too lazy or too self-deprecating to be “The Man” on a championship team.
A king doesn’t take shortcuts. He cuts his way through any and every one who gets in the way of what he wants.
That’s what we finally saw from LeBron in the 2012 Finals. He carried the load and was the ultimate facilitator on a title team that damn near everyone outside of South Florida was rooting against. That was #6 clutching the Finals MVP trophy, not Wade.
Don’t get me wrong: LeBron had help.
Mario Chalmers was huge in Games 4 and 5. Mike Miller was unconscious from 3-point range in the Game 5 closeout victory. Wade showed up in a major way for Games 3 and 4. But LeBron was clearly the straw that stirred the drink, and he looked like the dominant figure we were promised long ago.
Numbers have never been LeBron’s problem. He can fill up a box score like few others: he put up a triple double in Game 5 and scored 25 or more points in 15 straight playoff games. His main issue was closing the deal in the latter stages of the 4th quarter, with the biggest indictment against him being the total no-show in the final 3 games of last year’s Finals.
This year? The Chosen One finally arrived. And we all bore witness.
So say what you will about the receding hairline. He’ll never live down the “not one, not two, not three” line.
But talk of how “he can’t win the big one” is over. No more calling LeBron a choker or a fraud or a bigger version of Scottie Pippen.
On this day, we call him a champion. And if only one time, it’s LBJ that gets the last laugh.