Sunday, 8 July 2012
LEBRON JAMES-THIRD TIMES A CHARM
Once, twice, three times a champion.
By QUETT WALKER
As Lebron James lifts the Larry O’Brien trophy, the decibels on the hate o’ meter have fallen flatter than the sales of Joe Budden’s first album. All of the Miami Heat fans can be heard cheering throughout the American Airlines Arena for their team, who have won their second championship (first in 2006) since the franchise was formed in 1989. Lebron James was spectacular not only in Game 5 notching a triple double with 26 points, 11 Rebounds and 13 assists, but has been balling throughout the Finals averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 7.4 assists while playing an amazing 44 out of a possible 48 minutes a game. It was a no brainer that if (or when?) the Heat won the Finals, James would be the Finals MVP.
James has managed to achieve this with a lacklustre performance from the Miami bench (with the exclusion of Shane Battier who has been lighting it up in the Finals and oh yeah Mike Miller in Game 5), an ailing Chris Bosh and more nonchalant and less aggressive than usual Dwayne Wade.
The Miami Heat have performed what my friends and I called a ‘backway’ sweep in which a team wins 4 straight games after being down in a seven game series, essentially ‘sweeping’ the team to win the series. The Thunder were victims of this after they had similarly done the same to the San Antonio Spurs in the previous round. Kevin Durant and his teammates made their first Finals appearance playing against the Heat and they will most likely learn from this experience. They have some big decisions to make as to whether to resign James Harden and Serge Ibaka.
Although after getting his first chip, the haters are still going to continue their endless search to find things to nit-pick on rather than share in this momentous occasion where Lebron has started his journey to somewhat earn the title of ‘King James’. Everything from the fact that he left the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise to run to Miami to team up with D Wade as ‘he couldn’t do it by himself’, to the nationally televised ‘Decision’, to the Miami Heat media session where Wade, James and Bosh danced around on stage with James proclaiming that there are going to deliver not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6 not 7 championships.
We all make mistakes. No one can propose the argument to me that Lebron James is the first and only basketball player to make a mistake. Do I have to refer everyone to Michael Jordan’s gambling addiction or Kobe Bryant’s rape trial during 2003 - 2004 season? Ok I won’t go there.
Anyway this begs the question, why does Lebron James have so many haters?
I must admit I have been guilty of this in the past and anyone who knows me is familiar with my lack of fondness (that’s putting it nicely) for the Los Angeles Lakers, especially during the Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal dynasty era. Yes they were cocky and they had earned the right to be as they were 2 of the 7 superstars in the NBA at the time on the same team and they were just that good! So I ask myself why hate on them? That is when I entered into another dimension and realised that although they may not have been my favourite players and I didn’t have to like them, I wouldn’t be a true basketball fan if I didn’t respect them and I wasn’t appreciative of their talent and skill. A lot of the haters fail to grasp this concept and thus propagate hate just for hate’s sake.
This is extremely evident in the comparison of Kobe Bryant and Lebron James which has been going on since the age of time. Who exactly is the best player out of the two? I bet you can guess what the haters will say. Kobe Bryant has definitely won more accolades such as championship rings (5 to be exact) than Lebron James but James has won more season MVPs (3 to Kobe’s 1). Although Bryant has been in the league longer (7 years longer) it only took him his first 4 years in league before he won his first title. People fail to realise that he was playing alongside the most dominant player in the NBA at the time in Shaquille O’Neil who often demanded the attention of double and sometimes triple teams from the opposing team. This often allowed Kobe (who was an unstoppable force at the time anyway) to dominate games from time to time which definitely heavily contributed to the 3 rings he won with Shaq.
After 7 long years in Cleveland, Lebron went to Miami to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. This is the first time that Lebron James has played with someone who could create shots for themselves and take over games thus taking some of the pressure off of him. No one in history has won a NBA championship by themselves and is clearly demonstrated over the last few decades with duos such as Michael Jordan & Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant & Shaquille O’Neil, Hakeem Olajuwon & Clyde Drexler and in some instances trios such as, Tony Parker/Manu Ginobili/Tim Duncan, Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett/Ray Allen and Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol/Andrew Bynum. Lebron’s decision to flee to the Magic city in the sunshine state has resulted in 2 straight Finals appearances.
Kobe Bryant has been to the Finals 7 times yielding a 5 - 2 record while Lebron’s record is 1 –2. A lot of individuals are commenting that it took James’ third Finals appearance before he won the coveted NBA title. People often forget the great Jerry “Mr. Clutch” West, whose silhouette currently serves as the NBA logo, lost in the Finals 7 times before finally gaining his first and only championship on his 8th appearance.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not a Miami Heat fan nor do I think that James is a better play than Kobe Bryant at this point in time, but I acknowledge that he is very close and I appreciate his talent and recognise him as great basketball player. All of the haters need to realise that although James has not achieved the same level of success as Kobe, this by no sense means he’s that much of an inferior player. I am just sick and tired of everyone dismissing his superb talent, his amazing basketball ability and strong work ethic simply because he hasn’t won numerous championships - yet. These same people fail to acknowledge how great he is and therefore lose respect and cannot be deemed as true basketball fans in the eyes of the esteemed players, coaches, executives, writers, analysts and the true basketball fans of the NBA.
We all know winning is contagious and even though they always say the first one is the sweetest, we will enjoy the ride to see if Lebron can fulfil his promise to win not 1, not 2, not 3, not 4, not 5, not 6 not 7 championships.