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LeBron James’ Legacy Rests On These NBA Finals

This is his chance.

NBA Finals – Tonight marks the beginning of something special for LeBron James – or something awful.

Two years ago, the three-time NBA MVP bolted Cleveland to team with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami – a move that made him perhaps the most polarizing figure in sports.

Love him or hate on him.

James comes face-to-face with that decision in the NBA Finals, which begin tonight in Oklahoma City.

In a very real way, this is a must-win series for James. He is where most expected him to be at this point in the season. But if he does not hoist the championship trophy in about two weeks, he will not be where he was expected to be in his career.

And he thought last summer was agonizing. . .

James’ status as the best player on the planet was solidified with his amazing Game 6 performance in Boston, when, facing eliminating, he spun one of the all-time most dazzling playoff performances. He did not replicate that gem in Game 7, but 30 points and 15 rebounds certainly register as a stellar effort.

And so here he is now, on basketball biggest stage with the most to gain of anyone. Wade already has a championship. Bosh is just a complimentary piece – an important one, but a piece nonetheless. Kevin Durant of Oklahoma City is just 23, with a strong team and many more years of brilliant play and championship opportunities ahead of him.

No, this series is about James. Will he finally be crown King James or will he bury his head in a crown with another less-than-awesome NBA Finals.

“I will be happy with (what happens in the Finals) because I am giving it my all,” James said.

Sounds like a man trying to talk himself off a ledge before he actually gets on it.

A title gets him to a place he deserves to be – on the way to being compared to Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant, who possess six and five championship rings respectively. But you cannot catch them if you don’t get your first one, right?

This is his best chance, even more than last year when he still uncertain about asserting himself or acquiescing to Wade. No more. He distinguished this season – and especially in the postseason – that the Heat belong to him.

Tonight is the start of LeBron James’ legacy. What he did to this point is buildup to what happens now. This is his moment, his stage. Win it all and he and the Heat might run off a few in a row. Lose the series and an avalanche of blame will come down like never before for any other player, fairly or not.

A special time for James, yes. And scary.

What people are saying

5 thoughts on “LeBron James’ Legacy Rests On These NBA Finals

  1. Troy Johnson says:

    Yeah James' quest for a ring is indeed polarizing by his "flat-leaving" the faithful Cleveland fans. Many are rooting against Lebron for just that reason. Almost the opposite of the way folks rooted for NY's Patrick Ewing to win just one. Curtis while you have to remain unbiased I can express my opinion: Go OKC! 🙂

  2. Curtis Bunn says:

    Troy, that's an interesting perspective, throwing Patrick into the mix. Do you remember when Patrick sued to get out of his contract in the early '90s. I was covering the Knicks for the Daily News at the time. If he had won and signed with, say, Miami, you can rest assured Knicks fans NEVER would have forgiven him. That said, I'm down with OKC, too. 🙂

  3. Troy Johnson says:

    I'd forgot that Pat sued to get out his contract. I think given the Knicks' coaching and management over the years people would have been a little more sympathetic to Ewing's plight. Ewing was more low key than Lebron James; plus 10 years into his career Patrick was not exactly the asset LeBron James is… Game 2 should be a goodie!

  4. Curtis Bunn says:

    New Yorkers sympathetic? Some, maybe. Most might have called him a "punk" for bolting when things got tough – or STAYED tough. 🙂 Relatively speaking, Ewing was likely just as much the asset – he was the first ever lottery prize; he was playing in New York. And the Knicks had no other real assets. The franchise was built around him. He wasn't as big a star as LeBron is league-wide, but for THAT franchise, he was EVERYthing!!! In any case, didn't know you were avid sports guy. We could have been chopping it up long ago!!!. . . Wade has to show up tonight. So does Harden. Can't wait.

  5. Troy Johnson says:

    I would not describe myself as an "avid" sports fan. So conversation on the subject would be somewhat limited compared to yours. As a former D1 athlete I can appreciate and respect those who achieve at a high level.
    Reports like your which bring out the nuisance behind the physical competition make sports more interesting — keep up the good work Curtis!

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