LeBron’s Legacy

By on June 22, 2013

LeBron James (6) drives to the basket between Tim Duncan (21) and Kawhi Leonard (2) during the third quarter of game seven in the 2013 NBA Finals at American Airlines Arena as Manu Ginobili spectates. (photo by: USA TODAY Sports Derick Hingle)

Not five, not six, not seven. Nope, only two championships for LeBron James and his Miami Heat after three seasons which include a Finals loss to the Mavericks that first season. Yes, many people outside of the Heat fan base (and their newly acquired fans) were irked by LeBron’s television event to hang several teams out to dry in lieu of South Beach. Yes that included the Cleveland Cavaliers, the team located 30 minutes from his childhood home in Akron, Ohio. But forget that. Forget the fact that LeBron embraces the villain role. Forget that he, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh had a championship celebration before playing a game together. Let’s focus on just the basketball of one LeBron Raymone James.

 

First off, outside of how LeBron did what he did in bringing the Heat together let’s not act like it’s the first time there have been superstars on the same team. Magic Johnson had Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Larry Bird had Robert Parrish and Kevin McHale. Bill Russell had Bob Cousy and John Havliceck and Wilt Chamberlain had Elgin Baylor and Jerry West. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and Steve Kerr. You know who didn’t play alongside many other obvious future Hall-of-Fame players? Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller, none of whom have a championship either. It takes more than the best player in the game or even a bunch of good players to win a championship.

 

What Miami has is two future Hall of Famers in James and Wade, plus a superstar in Bosh, and a bunch of good role players who do their job and not much else. You don’t hear about these Heat players getting in legal trouble or throwing crazy parties or fighting amongst themselves. The only “bad” thing these guys have done that the public is aware of is their big three acting like idiots on stage in front of a sold-out American Airlines Arena before the start of their first season together.

 

On the court there is even less to criticize with James. He is not a ball hog. He doesn’t shy away from the big moment. He just led a championship team during the playoffs in points (25.9), rebounds (8.8), assists (6.6), steals (1.8) and guarded the other team’s best player in crunch time and many times for the entire game. LeBron James is a 6’8” power forward and he successfully shut down Tony Parker, a great point guard, for games 6 and 7 of the Finals. James has been called by many of his teammates, including his Cleveland teammates, the best teammate they’ve ever had. He has fun with his guys, something Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan didn’t exactly do. The thing that some people fail to see is that it doesn’t take away from his competitive nature.

 

Look, I’m a Philadelphia sports fan so I as much as anyone else understand championships aren’t that easy to come by, even when a team spends money and makes moves. Also, throw in to that I’m a pretty big supporter of Ohio sports, so I was less than thrilled when James made a beeline to South Florida while he still had unfinished business in Northeast Ohio. Regardless of how you think of him or the way you feel about how he’s done it, what he has done is built a dynasty in Miami. I, like many others, think that dynasty may be short lived with the Bulls and Pacers already being viable opponents in the east, but with the success James and the Heat have already had it may not matter.

 

Looking ahead to the future this could be James’ last year in Miami. He has a player option and could become a free agent after the 2013-2014 season, so this is a true legacy season. Say the Heat pull of the three-peat. Then what? Does James go off to Los Angeles with the Lakers like many people have suggested? Does he go to Chicago to really flare up those Jordan comparisons? Does he go back home to Northeast Ohio to revitalize the Cleveland Cavaliers (as many Cavs fans are desperately hoping)? No matter what happens next season and what James does the rest of his career he’s already etched himself as the best player in the post-Kobe/Shaq era. He’s only 28 years old and entering his 10th NBA season so has at least five to 10 more years to build upon his two championships and four MVPs.

 

When the Heat got up on stage in the summer of 2010 with a celebration to the theme of “Yes. We. Did.” they made the claim that the NBA was Miami’s world and the other 29 teams were living in it. They were kind of right. The NBA is LeBron’s world and everyone else is just living in it.

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