Like it or not, James’ title run was fitting end to season
Published: Monday, June 25, 2012
Updated: Monday, June 25, 2012 09:06
Face it: Even though you may not like the Miami Heat, there was something about last week that just felt right.
Maybe it was the fact that this was LeBron James’ third try on the game’s biggest stage. Maybe it was because James finally emerged as the undoubted alpha (via an injury-slowed Dwyane Wade) on a team that had lacked clarity in that area.
Maybe it was seeing guys like Shane Battier and Juwan Howard get a title.
Or maybe it was seeing former Florida Gator and Orlando Magic sharpshooter Mike Miller save his best for last, shooting the lights out in a close-out game before his likely retirement.
The reality is that with regards to James, this is how the NBA usually does, and should, work. Sure, the guy has been labeled as the second coming of Michael Jordan since he hit puberty, but in terms of actual on-the-court, NBA results, the man has paid his dues.
Two Finals defeats, devastating Eastern Conference losses to Orlando and Boston – LeBron has seen rock bottom and, as has been all too well documented, he didn’t necessarily handle all of it with grace.
He is easily the most scrutinized player, ever, and as he closed out his first championship, it really was a moment of what’s left to scrutinize?
Has anyone that doesn’t like this guy bothered to look at his numbers? One person shouldn’t be allowed to score, rebound and pass as well as he does. One person shouldn’t be allowed to effectively guard dynamic point guards and elite power forwards and centers – in the same game, if need be.
If you had to draw up the perfect basketball player, physically, he’d probably look a lot like LeBron James (you can take or leave the receding hairline).
Plenty of you don’t like the Heat, and sure, there are some good reasons. There’s like this core group of 20 or so Miami sports fans that follow the Heat, Marlins and Dolphins through thick and thin, and then there’s the 90-plus percent who can’t name any role players or explain a pick-and-role but get the loudest when they’re winning.
But it’s pretty standard. Anyone remember how many folks were all of a sudden diehard Magic fans the year they went to the Finals?
But take all the side noise out of the equation – your annoying friend who is a “reborn” Miami Heat fan, a general dislike for superstars teaming up and even a dislike for LeBron’s personality – and look at this for what it is: the best player of this generation winning his first ring.
Did you really want to see the best player on the planet go his career without a ring?
I can’t in good faith say I never wanted to see LeBron win a title. Sure, the Internet memes when he loses are good for a chuckle and a re-post, but no amount of memes compares to watching greatness happen.
The best part of all this is that there’s more greatness brewing. No one should feel sorry for the Thunder or Oklahoma City. They had a great season, and as Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden huddled together in the waning moments of Game Five, soaking in their defeat on the cusp of greatness, you have to imagine what’s to come. If the Thunder are to be champions, a dynasty even, as some have suggested, they will take this loss and build resolve around it. That’s what champions do – they feed off of defeat. Just ask Jordan about the Pistons.
The core of that team is 23 years old and younger, so by no means should anyone feel bad for OKC; in fact, be excited for that city and that team.
In fact, be excited for the NBA.
Sure, plenty of people don’t like LeBron or the Heat. That works; they’re now the legitimate (champion) evil empire. The good guys everyone wants to root for – the Durants and Derrick Roses – they’ll build their respective teams and take their shots at LeBron and Co.
It’ll make for a great decade of basketball to come, and we get to sit back, watch and enjoy.
The way it ought to be.