A scientist constructs the perfect baseball player. He is so unhittable that not a single opponent can reach base against him. When other teams in the league find out that he’s actually a machine and not a man, they contest the rule book and the demand the doctor install a heart. Once ‘human,’ the pitcher can never strike out another batter because, with a heart, he feels sympathy.
The greatest NBA Champions have all had heart but they have also had another key overriding factor: killer instinct. Every time Larry Bird took the floor, he wanted to destroy his opponent’s will. Same with Magic Johnson. Magic may have killed you with kindness but that smile was just a cover. He wanted to rip your heart out.
The same can be said for all NBA champions. Isiah Thomas would stop at nothing to win. Michael Jordan might be the most competitive man to walk the planet. Kobe Bryant would not rest until he led his Lakers to a championship without his former sidekick, Shaquille O’Neal. Tim Duncan might look like a nice guy but don’t kid yourself. Even Dwyane Wade willed himself to an NBA Championship early in his career.
That’s what it takes in the Association. It’s cutthroat. Man’s game. The will to win at all costs. After seven years in the league, however, fans are dying to know: Does LeBron James have what it takes?
The sport hasn’t really seen anything like LeBron. The body of a forward combined with the skill of a guard make him nearly impossible to stop anytime he touches the ball. He is a freak of nature. The problem is he’s also a really nice guy. He’s always joking, smiling, clowning around.
As insane as it sounds when talking about a guy who’s averaging 30 points, 7 rebounds and 8 assists a game, James probably hasn’t even reached his full potential.
He’s too good a player to imagine ending his career without winning a championship, isn’t he? It just wouldn’t seem fair. But if LeBron doesn’t win it all this year, his final contract year in Cleveland, the entire city will stand by with bated breath to see if he’ll re-sign or take his show elsewhere. Cleveland fans are already on the edge of their seats and not because he’s pouring in thirty a night. It’s amazing they can get a good night’s sleep, anxiously awaiting an impending break up.
We’ve heard all the speculation: LeBron to the Knicks; LeBron to the Nets, LeBron to play with his friend Dwyane Wade. As difficult as it is to put all that on the back burner, there’s still a season to be played out. While the Cavs may have the best record in the Eastern Conference, they did last year as well and that only resulted in a loss to Orlando. Unfortunately for LeBron, the Magic, Hawks and Celtics aren’t going anywhere and that’s just the Eastern Conference. Winning the East might only mean a potential meeting with Mount Kobe, a Finals that Nike and the networks were craving last year.
If LeBron doesn’t win it all this year, then what, other than soul-searching? I say let’s enjoy the playoffs but how can we knowing that with every loss, LeBron James edges closer to making a decision that will affect the entire league.
With all due respect to Bill Russell, the modern measuring stick for NBA greatness is Michael Jordan’ six Finals appearances and zero losses and LeBron is already behind the 8-ball. We’ve seen it all too often. Hall of Famers like Charles Barkley, Reggie Miller, Dominique Wilkins and Patrick Ewing all carry the moniker, the burden of never winning a title. Fair or not, legacy in the NBA is measured by one thing: ring count.
This June, Bron Bron might want to add a little killer instinct to his repertoire. Whether he stays in Cleveland or not next season, he might just be on the outside of an NBA title once again. Is LeBron simply too nice or in this competitive league, are the cards stacked against him? Is LeBron James too nice for his own good?