He finally did it. He finally got it done. Miami Heat superstar LeBron James may never rid himself of his haters, but one thing he’s put to rest for sure is the notion that he’s a ring-less King without a throne.
No longer can we say “but he’s never won a championship,” like we can for other great players like Charles Barkley or Patrick Ewing or Stockton and Malone. LeBron has assured himself that he will not be the greatest basketball player never to have reached “the mountaintop” as Dwyane Wade has put it numerous times.
The pressure of winning that first ring is behind him now and I’m sure that’s as much of a relieve as anything. The percieved pressure on his shoulders was so intense it makes you wonder how it even got to that point? Where did all that pressure come from and who’s next to bear it?
To answer the latter question first, absolutely no one! Not Melo, not D-Rose, not CP3, not even Mr. Unibrow himself, #1 draft pick Anthony Davis.
The pressure on LeBron was unprecedented and unrepeatable. Now that the pressure is off of LBJ, there is no ‘Who’s Next,” and here’s why in no particular order…
5. High School Status
When LeBron was just a Junior at St. Vincent-St. Mary’s high school in Akron, Ohio, the attention he garnered was already that of a superstar.
He was the only player on his team who would play in the NBA but their games were being aired on ESPN. None of his teammates even played for a big time college program. It was all LeBron even back then.
The spotlight was on him early and it would only get brighter, and hotter, under that light. No current player has ever had their career under such a microscope from such an early stage and there’s no one comparable in the forseeable future either.
4. Style Of Play
The way LeBron plays the game has a lot to do with why expectations reached such a high level for him. His size combined with the things he can do on the court are so rare. He can score, rebound, set up his teammates, and fill the stat sheet from top to bottom.
Sometime he’s described as the most unselfish superstar in the league and even though that’s been his downfall on more than a few occasions, it’s a nice attribute to have when you have two All-Star teammates by your side.
Who in the league can do what this man does at 6’8 and 250+?
Never have nicknames been such a driving force for why people were critical of a player like they were for ‘King James’ or “The Chosen One.” I think the saying goes, “With great nicknames, comes great responsibility,” or something like that.
Was that ever any more clear than with LeBron? The hype surrounding him paired with his talent resulted in people expecting him to win a championship in no time and the ‘Chosen1′ tattoo on his back didn’t help relieve any of that pressure.
2. The Decision
Need I say more?
On July 7th, 2010, LeBron hit the fast track to becoming public enemy #1. The only thing that could have increased the hate he’d see after that day is if he had this guy make the announcement for him.
1. LeBron James
With all that being said, the one thing that may have ratcheted up the pressure on LeBron even more was of his own doing. When Darius Miles did it, no one cared. When Alonzo Gee did it, hardly anyone noticed. It didn’t matter when J.R. Smith or Jason Richardson did the exact same thing, but when someone like LeBron does it, it’s an entirely different story.
Eventually, LeBron would realize the magnitude of this one decision he made as a player of his caliber which leads me to this quote:
“He can’t get the logo [Hall of Famer Jerry West's silhouette adorns the NBA's logo], and if he can’t, something has to be done. I feel like no NBA player should wear 23. I’m starting a petition, and I’ve got to get everyone in the NBA to sign it. Now, if I’m not going to wear No. 23, then nobody else should be able to wear it.” -Source
Ironically, if it hadn’t been for Pat Riley retiring #23 for the Miami Heat in honor of Michael Jordan, LeBron might not have not changed his number to begin with and we all know why he chose that number. I bet he’d think twice about that # if he could.
Either way, the expectation bar had been set thanks to LeBron, his fans, and the media to a height we won’t ever see again.
That’s why asking which athlete needs to win a championship next isn’t reasonable. No one needed it as much as LeBron. It’s almost as ridiculous as asking who the next MJ is, Now wouldn’t you agree?