Two years ago, LeBron James split the nation with his public announcement that he would be taking his services to Miami. His hometown city of Cleveland became the jilted lover, and Miami, with an already talented duo in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, would now be perennial contenders for the title. He left a place where he would get the ball every time in crucial situations to a place with other “game on the line” talent.
Now locked in battle with Indiana for the conference semi-finals, James is still reeling from criticism for falling apart in last year’s finals against the Dallas Mavericks, which was re-ignited by a poor closing in Game 2 of this current series. To clear his name away from the “choke” label, it has been said that he has to make amends and win now.
There also seems to be a way he needs to win: he needs to be alone on the mountaintop carrying his team on his back to glory, as opposed to blending in the shadows of a team with star depth. He has already received demerits for attempting to accomplish winning by having teammates like Dwyane Wade that can share the spotlight and the burden.
Titles take a team. Even though Jordan could have won without Pippen, he still won with Pippen and that speaks to Jordan’s ability to learn how to work with his teammates. That takes time and experience. Being head and shoulders above the rest is meaningless unless you master how to most effectively implement your dominance. You may even have to be greater to do so when there are many more egos and options in the room.
James is a great player. He has deservedly won the NBA’s MVP award for 2012. Just like many other great talents, like Shaq or Jordan, he may just have to wait for the right time for it all to gel. Will he rise to the occasion? We have to let it play out. If you’re feeling impatient, remember that James can rattle off 40 points, 18 rebounds, and 9 assists like he did in a pivotal Game 4. In the meantime, forget about the myth of winning “now.” It just makes us all look ridiculous if he were to rattle off 5 championships after he turns 30. Jordan was a year older than James when he won his first of six NBA titles. With his ability and his age, LeBron still has time on his side.
(MORE: NBA Nerd Alert)