If you live in America and you’re not a cat-crazed, technophobic hermit, you’ve probably heard the news. The Miami Heat have won this year’s NBA championship and LeBron James, Finals MVP, finally became, legitimately, King.
Despite winning his third consecutive NBA Most Valuable Player award this season, averaging an impressive 27.1 points per game, alongside 7.9 rebounds and 6.2 assists, and posting career-highs in both overall field-goal percentage (.531) and three-point field-goal percentage (.362), people were still calling James a choke-artist of Picasso-like proportions.
After his performance in the playoffs last year, that’s certainly understandable.
In the Championship series against the Dallas Mavericks, for instance, after leading the Heat to an initial 2-1 series lead, James scored a mere 46 points total in the series’ final three games. With his paltry performances, including an embarrassing 8 point Game Five, the Heat wound up losing the series 4-2. The supposed Dream Team general manager, Pat Riley had orchestrated over the summer of 2010, convincing James and Raptors’ forward Chris Bosh to leave their long-time homes, the Cavaliers and Raptors, respectively, to join with Heat star Dwayne Wade, had failed to deliver on its promise.
This year, LeBron changed all that.
Lebron became the anti-Lebron, repeatedly leading the Heat back from the depths of defeat. In the second round against the Pacers, with the Heat having just lost back-to-back games, stuck in a 2-1 hole, James scored 40 points and grabbed 18 rebounds in a historic Game Four performance which catapulted the Heat to a series win. Likewise, in the Eastern Conference Finals, with the Heat down 2-3, LeBron scored 45 points alongside 15 rebounds in a Game Six trouncing of the Celtics, tying the series up on the way to a second straight Finals berth.
And in those Finals, James was unstoppable, a titanic force. Leading the Heat to a 4-1 series victory over the favored Oklahoma Thunder, James finished the Heats’ season-long sojourn with a rare Finals triple-double (26 points, 11 rebounds, 13 assists).
People can boo and hiss all they want, call James a mercenary, a traitor to his hometown Cavaliers, what have you, but they can’t take away that championship ring—that gleaming symbol of his, and the Heat’s, magnificent achievement.
So what’s next for LeBron to accomplish? All-Star Game MVP? He already has two of those. Average thirty points in a season? He did that in 2008. What about NBA All-Defensive First Team—he can’t be a great defender, too, right? Actually, he’s earned that honor four times. In that case, maybe he can average a triple-double next season? Or turn water into wine?
Either way, at this point, I don’t think anyone would be surprised.