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by
Rick Moran

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June 21, 2013 - 3:31 pm

Ten years after his debut in the NBA as a gangling 18-year old playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James has done something that few ever thought he would. He has exceeded the high expectations set for him by the sports commentariat and now owns the league.

James, whose Miami Heat took the title 95-88  in a thrilling seventh game with the San Antonio Spurs, finds himself in rare company, indeed. Only two players have won back to back league MVP and Finals MVP — James and Michael Jordan. The temptation to compare the two superstars should be resisted, however. They belong to different eras — two entirely different games. Besides, how can you quantify pure athleticism? Both men had skill sets that fit the times in which they played, both competed ferociously, and both possessed the gift of making those around them better players.

But LeBron James, like Jordan before him, is now the unquestioned owner of the National Basketball Association. He wrested that title  from the Los Angeles Lakers’ Kobe Bryant whose aging body is beginning to betray him. Bryant, who succeeded Jordan as the dominant superstar of his era, won 5 championships during the first decade of this century. James, still a relatively young 28 and with 2 titles already under his belt, seems destined to surpass Bryant and perhaps even Jordan’s 6 titles.

And James has the opportunity to dominate the game in ways that Jordan and Bryant never could. At the moment, there is no one on the horizon who could challenge James for supremacy. He’s too big, too fast, too talented for any defender currently in the NBA to consistently guard him. Every other superstar in the league today clearly suffers by comparison. And as long as the Miami ownership is willing to build teams around him that can compete — and barring serious injury — his run as King of the NBA may last a while.

But James may end up being the most unpopular superstar ever to own the league. Since his ill-conceived live show to announce his free agent plans in 2010, LeBron has become the athlete everyone likes to hate. This is a trifle unfair given his charitable and philanthropic activities which are legion. But the image of James “taking his talents to South Beach” while his Cleveland fans wept with rage and disgust, has proven to be a lasting impression on the sporting public.

As for the seventh game of the NBA finals, the line for James reveals how much he was able to dominate the Spurs; 37 points, 12 rebounds, and 4 assists. He plunged the dagger into San Antonio with less than a minute to play with a sequence of plays that  achieved instant legend status. San Antonio’s future Hall of Fame center Tim Duncan took one of his patented sweeping hooks that failed to go in with 50 seconds to play.

James followed with a jumper — the shot the Spurs were daring him to take earlier in the series — to make it 92-88, sending San Antonio to a timeout as Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On” blared over the arena’s sound system.

He then came up with a steal and made two free throws for a six-point lead, and after Ginobili missed, James stalked toward the sideline, knowing it was over and that he was, once again, the last one standing.

The great ones always seem to come through at crunch time. That’s why they’re considered great. And that’s why LeBron James has been able to slough off the criticism and mount the dais to receive his just reward as the unquestioned owner of professional basketball.

 

Rick Moran is PJ Media's Chicago editor and Blog editor at The American Thinker. He is also host of the"RINO Hour of Power" on Blog Talk Radio. His own blog is Right Wing Nut House.

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All Comments   (4)
All Comments   (4)
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Heat best strap it up. The Spurs will be back again. I'll take Timmy over LeBron any day of the week, even at age 37. Cheers -
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Lebron may be chronologically young at age 28, but he's getting up there in terms of NBA "mileage" He's already logged 30,375 regular season minutes (#112 all-time) and almost 6000 playoff minutes (#22 all time) The combined total puts him at 36,000 minutes. It seems that players begin to slow down considerably at 44,000 minutes. This happened to Shaq, who was a shadow of his former self after passing this benchmark

So Lebron does have a limited window, made even smaller by the fact that it is highly doubtful that he'll three-peat. All the previous three-peaters (Bulls and Lakers) breezed to their second championship and struggled to win their third. Lebron's second was like pulling impacted wisdom teeth. What this means is that by the time the 2014-15 season rolls around he's going to pretty old in terms of mileage, and still with only 2 rings
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"Since his ill-conceived live show to announce his free agent plans in 2010, LeBron has become the athlete everyone likes to hate."

This increases his popularity. Love him or hate him he's on your mind. The same thing happened with Jordan.
The real reason the hate is lasting is really the 'Player Stacking' by the players. Nobody cares about some young and dumb 'episode'. LeBron James has worked on his game and come up clutch. Now everyone that holds the idea of Jordan so high in their bouncing basketball hearts are frightened of LeBron eclipsing their greatest hero.
Oh, the Jordan acolytes bitterly complain about LeBron taking the lowest end of the Max contract to make the Championship Heat happen.

Most Jordan acolytes, even the grizzled veterans of the 80s, never take into consideration why the Bulls teams could stay dominant for so long. Jordan's long term 3,000,000/year salary. The Bulls could stack the team every year because Jordan and management had a 'quid pro quo' on his earnings.
The last year Jordan played for the Bulls, the Bulls gave him a $25,000,000 one year contract to thank him.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The Name Which Must Never Be Spoken In Cleveland.

Really, Rick. We don't want to hear about LeBron anymore.

(Yes, we're still very bitter around these parts.)
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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