LeBron James career, since he has ‘taken his talents to South Beach’ has been marred by controversy. There have been epic heights and meteoric failures.
Many have fallen out of the public’s good graces but the quickness of James’s fall is a compelling look into how society treats polarizing figures.
The Decision led to vilification, burning his jersey and in some cases, outright hatred of James.
Despite all of that, fans, the media and his NBA peers were ready to hand James back his crown had he won the NBA Finals. But it was not to be.
A terrible showing in the fourth quarters of the NBA Finals slumped James back to slouch status.
Fast forward to 2011-2012.
James is having, perhaps, his best season as a professional basketball player, averaging 27.9 points eight rebounds and seven assists though he still has not overcome the stigma of being a choke artist.
These feelings pervade most discussions about James and were the prelude to a conversation about James on ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike.
James has joined another category that, if it were me, I would not want to be a part of.
James was mentioned among the greatest players to never win a title.
In that aspect, a comparison to Karl Malone is not appealing.
This discussion is the only time that greats of the NBA like Elgin Baylor, Bob Lanier ever get mentioned.
It’s a shame but an understandable one, in life, the victor gets the spoils.
I believe it’s premature to have such conversation but I understand why the conversation is being had.
James has not yet won a title, despite two appearances.
James has a great chance to remove his name from the aforementioned category this year.
Miami (25-7) has the best record in the league this year. They are the best team in the league this year talent-wise. It just looks easy at times when they coast down the lane on fast break and throw alley-oops.
Can he win that elusive first title? Well that remains to be seen.
For James’ legacy, he needs to win this year.
The whispering comparisons to Charles Barkley will become an avalanche of negative criticism if Miami loses this season.
A great performance in the clutch for James is imperative. But it is not impossible to grow into the role of closer.
Alex Rodriguez has.
So has Dirk Nowitski.
But James still has to do it. There is legitimate doubt that he can do it.
Call me crazy but I believe that he can step up when it matters most. It certainly would alleviate the comparisons.