LeBron James is one game away from another missed championship. James and the Miami Heat trail the San Antonio Spurs 3 – 2 in the NBA Finals. For the second time in three years, a team from Texas may keep James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh from capturing the NBA title. Two years ago, the Dallas Mavericks knocked the Heat off in six games with the final game coming in Miami. The Spurs have the chance to finish off James and company in South Beach as well. Of course this isn’t the only time LeBron was knocked out of the finals by the Spurs. In 2007, the Cleveland Cavaliers were beaten in four straight games by Tim Duncan and the Spurs.
Of course, James won a ring last year when the took care of the Oklahoma City Thunder, but is that what he will be remembered for? Will people remember what he did in 2012 against Kevin Durant or will they remember when he no-showed against Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks? James went from being the most beloved player in basketball to being the person everyone likes to cheer against. When he sat there on ESPN and told the world he was bailing on Cleveland and going to Miami to join Wade and Bosh, he instantaneously became a villain; he was the person you wanted to see lose. Right or wrong, it made no difference because people wanted to see him fail.
After averaging 26.8 points per game in the regular season, James is only averaging 16.7 during the Finals. Perhaps the most frustrating part for Heat fans is the fact that James seems to be absent at critical times during the series. After tying the series up at one game a piece, San Antonio blew out the Heat in Game 3. During stretches of the game, James was standing at the three-point line rather than trying to post up or assert himself like the MVP should.
These questions have always surrounded James. Media members would question his ability to win the big game. With so many comparisons to Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant, the one thing that seemed to separate James from the other two was the lack of a killer instinct. Jordan and Kobe both shine when the game is on the line. Jordan wanted the ball in his hands during crunch time, and often times he would find a way to put his team over the top. People questioned LeBron’s ability to carry a team, especially after he bolted from Cleveland. Much was made about him going to find another proven superstar to play alongside with rather than letting the players come to him.
James seemed to have his breakout game last year against the Boston Celtics. Leading 3-2 in the series, Game 6 would be played in Boston. Up until this point in the playoffs and in his career, he had never really showed the ability to put a team on his back and carry them. On this night, however, he did just that. James made 12 of 13 shots for 30 points in the first half of the game. James finished with 45 as Miami took care of Boston 98 – 79.
Miami would go on to win the title, and everyone thought he had turned the corner on being considered a clutch player. Fast forward to the 2013 Finals and the same old questions are being asked again. Obviously winning last year’s title will go along way when people are arguing about who is the greatest ever. However, this isn’t what the people of South Beach were promised, right? Wasn’t the notion thrown around that they were going to put together a run like nobody has ever seen in the NBA? Jordan had six, so LeBron was going to win seven or eight titles, right? I’m not sure where he ranks on the list of all-time great players, but if he loses Game 6 or possibly Game 7, his legacy may never rebound.