The NBA Playoffs are rapidly approaching; the best time of year for professional basketball fans.
But let’s just cut to the chase, shall we? The upcoming playoffs are about one thing only… whether LeBron James can finally win a ring.
I’m going on record right now as saying I think the Miami Heat will win it all this year. I know that’s not necessarily taking a huge risk considering they made the Finals last year and have been heavy favorites ever since LeBron took his talents there. But despite his MVP-caliber season, the Heatles have been passed by, at least record-wise, by the Oklahoma City Thunder, Chicago Bulls and even the venerable San Antonio Spurs.
Of course, none of that matters if the Heat can hold home court and muster up just one road win in Chicago. That shouldn’t be all that difficult for a team that features two of the best players in the universe, should it?
Don’t get me wrong. I still think a number of teams out there can win it all. The Spurs, Lakers, Celtics, Mavs, Bulls and Thunder are all perfectly capable of being the last team standing, but the pressure on all those teams combined isn’t a fraction of that which rests firmly on Miami’s, and more specifically LeBron’s, shoulders. After all, those other teams didn’t boldly promise ring after championship ring.
I’m not here to bore you with series predictions, match-ups or team-by-team breakdowns. What I will say is that if Miami doesn’t win it all this year, all hell will break loose. The earth will open up and frogs and locusts will fall from the sky. If you thought the Bron-bashing was bad after “The Decision,” wait until you see what happens if he swings and misses AGAIN. Three strikes and you’re out, Mr. James.
In case of another collapse, if LeBron James has one ounce of sensitivity in his body, which I believe he does, he better find a secluded island somewhere, preferably with no televisions, newspapers or internet, because the criticism will be relentless. I don’t even want to think about what happens if he refuses the final shot in a deciding game. I may have to sell my television.
James has now been in the league eight years. He’s won two MVPs, and perhaps this year, a third. He’s been to two NBA Finals and lost them both. Despite his indescribable talent (career 27-7-7 guy, already one of the top 50 scorers of all time!), we can at least, for the time being, stop comparing him to the game’s greatest, unless of course we only include the title-less.
The upcoming playoffs are all about LeBron James, there’s no way around it. This has to be his year. Statistically, he’s having one of his best seasons ever, averaging career highs in field goal percentage and rebounds per game. He is playing determined basketball. You can see it on his face.
This is the most talented team he’s ever played on. With Battier, Miller, Haslem, Anthony, Cole, Chalmers, Howard, Turiaf, not to mention Bosh and Wade, the Heat are deep enough to compete with, and beat, anyone.
There are no more excuses for King James.
In a league that is all about legacy and hardware, LeBron’s shot clock is winding down. Even though he’s only 27, he can ill afford to make another deep run only to come up short. He has to start stockpiling titles now. For a player who entered the league with such high expectations, coming up short will once again will bring unprecedented, yet deserved, criticism. Hoisting the O’Brien Trophy, however, will exorcise those demons in one fell swoop. For his sake, and for the sake of my television, we have to hope that happens.
LeBron James is too good of a player to not win a championship. We’ve been saying that for a while now. This will be his year. It has to be his year. If not, he might want to find a good place to hide.