As in years gone by, LeBron James’ legacy is on the line.
But this time it’s truly different. It’s final. It’s for real, for real.
James can cement this legacy forever. He can end all the talk about his career, his missteps along the way.
Heck, there will be no further debate. In fact, James could shutdown ESPN’s First Take – for good.
LeBron can deliver on something he promised when he first got to the NBA and deliver something others – in any sport – haven’t been able to do in more than 50 years.
LeBron can deliver a championship to Cleveland for the first time since 1964. Yes, 52 years ago. The great Jim Brown got it done for the Cleveland Browns.
That’s what’s at stake for LeBron here. He must – and will, if you ask me – defeat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals, starting tonight in Oakland.
Getting to another Finals means nothing, especially for James. He was there last year against the Warriors and lost in six games without his two other stars – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
The odds-makers have the Cavs as the underdogs. James scoffs at the notion.
“I don’t get involved in all of that,” James said to the media. “Underdog, over-dog, whatever the case may be. It’s stupidity. .. We’re better built to start the Finals than we were last year. Doesn’t matter who it’s against.”
James is spot on. This team is better and has played extremely well in the postseason thus far. No doubt, it’s positioned to achieve greatness.
James will play in his sixth straight NBA Finals and seventh in his career. In his previous six, James has won just two titles, both with the Miami Heat.
If he never wins again in his career, for sure, James can sigh in relief. He has two coveted titles in his back pocket. His worst nightmare, that he would have this suitable-for-framing career and be ring-less, is history.
Plus, James didn’t just get lucky and win one championship. He won two – two in a row – removing the notion that it was just a fluke.
The last time the legacy police were out in full force was when James was trying to get his third title in a row to cement his legacy as a winner, as a player who honestly did something special in the Association.
Despite having Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it didn’t happen. The Heat lost to the San Antonio Spurs in 2014.
The third in a row would have sealed the deal for James. Not many great players have accomplished that feat.
Michael Jordan, arguably the greatest player ever, did it twice. In fact, MJ was 6-0 in NBA Finals and won all six MVPs in those championship series.
James has lost three Finals in the last five trips there, including two in a row.
Without question, if James loses this time around, it leaves the door open for people to look his return home to Cleveland with much disappointment.
His return from Miami was a great story. James returned to where it all started to take care of unfinished business, to make fans there to forget that he ever left them in pursuit of championships elsewhere.
Last season’s loss in the Finals was totally understandable. James was a one-man band.
That’s the standard James setup for himself. The reason he left Cleveland, according to James, was because he couldn’t win alone. He said he needed help, other great players. James has that now with Irving and Love. There is no reason that the Cavs can’t get it done.
“I know our city deserves it. Our fans deserve it. But that gives us no sense of entitlement,” James told the media in Oakland. “We still have go out and do it. We’ve still got to go out and prove ourselves and be as great as we can be every single night we hit the floor. We look forward to the challenge.”
James’ scenario is kind of like Peyton Manning. He needed that other Super Bowl victory to cement his legacy as one of the greatest. It finally happened this past season. Hence, his legacy isn’t debatable.
James can only end his legacy debate as well by giving Cleveland a championship.