Sportsquota: Lebron, A Ring For The King


by Qiana M | ARCHIVES

Two NBA MVP awards, 2003 Rookie of the Year, Two All-Star MVP awards, All-NBA Defensive First Team, Two-time All-NBA First Team and 2008 Olympic Gold medalist – Lebron James name is synonymous with achievement. Dubbed “King James” by fans and the media, the 6’8 man-child has been rocking rims and commanding respect since causing a controversy for foregoing attending public school in his hometown of Akron, OH and instead opting for the more elite platform of private school St. Mary-St. Vincent High School.  James would once again raise eyebrows when he announced he would be “taking his talents” to South Beach after being drafted by and playing seven seasons for the Cleveland Cavaliers in a predictable yet somewhat distasteful hour long ESPN backed special entitled “The Decision.” Despite the multi-million dollar, six year contract with Cleveland, major endorsement deals, personal scoring bests and recognition by fans, peers and media alike as arguably the “Best In The Game” there was one thing missing —  a NBA Championship cementing his rank as “King.”

Since splashing onto the scene as a tall, lanky high school basketball player with an uncanny quickness exploding into the paint, accolades have come easy for Lebron. It all began with an AAU Championship title that was at the foundation of his relationship with former teammates, lifelong friends and business partners, Willie McGhee, Sian Cotton and Dru Joyce III. Then came his three year tenure as Ohio’s Mr. Basketball combined with back to back State Champion titles, an appearance in SLAM Magazine as “the best high school basketball player”, Gatorade’s “National Player of the Year” topped by landing on the cover of both ESPN The Magazine and Sports Illustrated.  There was no question there is something special about this freak of nature from Akron, OH.  Financial hardship and being shuttled from home to home had given away to Lebron playing before sell-out crowds televised on ESPN2 and regional pay-per-view.  Shortly after graduating, Lebron was selected as #1 overall in the 2003 NBA Draft to the Cleveland Cavaliers over 2003 NCAA Men’s Basketball Champion, Carmelo Anthony and Darko Milicic, sparking a new era in the NBA and breathing new life into the cursed sports town.

The Q Arena was alive and filled to capacity each season with die hard Cavaliers fans reenergized and boiling over with the promise of a NBA championship.  And Lebron delivered night in and season out until alleged disappearing acts during the final moments of several games of the 2007 NBA Finals versus brought James lack of maturity and his ability to lead into play. The firestorm surrounding James’ leadership abilities and true potential for greatness was further questioned when a notably frustrated and distracted ex-Cavalier squadron leader failed to rally his team to a return NBA Finals appearance, losing the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals to the Orlando Magic. The magnitude of the tough loss further heightened by James refusal to shake hands, showed not just poor sportsmanship on the part of James’ but disharmony and discord in the Cavaliers’ camp and with the 2010 NBA Free Agency on the horizon, a storm was brewing. Many speculated that Lebron would forgo resigning with the Cleveland Cavaliers instead opting to join his friend and fellow NBA superstar, Dwyane Wade in Miami. With his new status as free agent, failed promises by Cavaliers’ owner, Dan Gilbert combined with an even a far reaching declaration by Shaquille O’Neal to bring a “Ring For The King”  there was little to no incentive for James’ to renew his tenure as the face of the Cleveland franchise.

A post season of rumors and a ESPN special event inappropriately titled “The Decision” later, James’ confirmed what many insiders and arguably Lebron himself already knew — he was leaving Cleveland for the sunny skies, championship dreams and bigger market reach of South Beach.  Shocking was the outpouring of  harsh criticism and hatred that followed the “summer of Lebron.” Clearly outraged, fans burned Lebron James Cavalier jerseys, created anti-Lebron blogs/websites and took to social media at any given opportunity to express their hate for the man responsible for Miami’s newly formed “Big 3.” Lebron had gone from beloved to the villain. And it was the villain role that Lebron embraced — a move that along with the way he left Cleveland, James later admitted perhaps wasn’t the best idea.

His first year with the media dubbed “Super Team” was anything but great. An up and down regular season rollercoaster ending in a disappointing NBA Finals loss to the Dallas Mavericks, in which James’ all but crumbled, had the 28 year old guard eating his promise for “easy” multiple championship wins. Once again Lebron’s immaturity had overshadowed his immense talent, leaving his teammates holding the bag.  The  2011-12 NBA regular season saw a more determined, focused Lebron in both his performance and mostly importantly in his attitude. No longer unaware of how truly difficult the task of winning an NBA championship is, the “Super Friends” pushed through adversity and injury (Bosh-abdominal strain, Wade-back, knee and James-leg cramp) to fulfill what they had promised at that first press conference two years ago. The Thunder certainly didn’t make it easy.

Young OKC  led the series early, conquering Game 1 in what would be their sole win of the series. Kevin Durant and company put up a courageous effort through Games 2-4 losing only by a total of 16 points.  Durant’s 32 points and 11 rebounds while impressive, weren’t enough to overcome Harden’s absence, Westbrook’s inconsistencies and the team’s inexperience overall. The Heat would later go on a 19-0 run to oust Oklahoma City in Game 5, winning the game 121-106 and ultimately the NBA Championship. The difference this time? He didn’t have to do it alone. The support of key role players such as Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier and Mike Miller scoring in the double digits picked up the slack during crucial moments when characteristically in Cleveland, James’ had to do it alone.

“It’s about damn time,” James said on national television. Not just about time he was able to cradle a Larry O’Brien trophy in his arms or hold an NBA Finals MVP trophy up high – it’s about time he led. He wasn’t Robin to Dwyane Wade’s Batman. He didn’t shrink into the shadows when his team needed him the most. He rose to the challenge scoring 26 points, dishing out 13 assists, racking up 11 rebounds while rallying his teammates to a dominating 4-1 series conquest over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Sources: ESPN, USA Today, Washington Post


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“I dreamed about this opportunity and this moment for a long time, including last night, including today,” James said. “You know, my dream has become a reality now…. he best thing that happened to me last year was us losing the Finals. And me playing the way I played, it was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically, I got back to the basics. It humbled me. I knew what it was going to have to take, and I was going to have to change as a basketball player and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.”

Humbled and matured, Lebron James is a NBA Champion AT LAST!

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