By Nate Hanson, Sports Radio KJR
Game 7 of the NBA Finals begins tonight and everyone is analyzing what LeBron James needs to do to lift his legacy. The Furness Show posed the question do you want to see James win tonight?
The decision was split. Fitting for the most polarizing player and scrutinized player in the NBA since his infamous decision.
During high school, he was anointed The Chosen One. He had 25 points, 9 assists, 6 rebounds and 4 steals in his first career NBA game. Since then, he’s become King James. He is the best player in the game.
James has undoubtedly had his failures on the court. His first major letdown came in the 2007 NBA Finals when the Cleveland Cavaliers were swept by the San Antonio Spurs. His second downfall was during the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals when the Boston Celtics defeated James and the number one seeded Cavaliers. His third failure came in the 2011 NBA Finals when the Dallas Mavericks took down the Miami Heat. James was the third leading-scorer for the Heat in that series. It seemed Larry O’Brien Trophy would forever elude James, like it did to greats before him. That was the narrative of his career.
Fast-forward a year. James wins his first championship and averages 28.6 points per game in the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder. For the first time in his career James was the legitimate King and many of his detractors faded. This was defining moment that would begin the re-write of James’ legacy.
Move ahead to the beginning of April. The Heat won 66 regular season games, including a 27-game win streak, and seemed unstoppable heading into the postseason. James won his fourth MVP award and was one vote shy of winning it unanimously. He had the basketball world in the palm of his hand. People were already re-writing his legacy with a dominant postseason expected.
Then, Miami swept the Milwaukee Bucks without a sweat, and bulled through Chicago after dropping Game 1. It was all going to plan. But, the Indiana Pacers and Spurs both pushed the Heat to seven games. It was time to rip out the old story, and once again start anew. In the Eastern Conference Finals, James posted 32 points in a dominating win. A similar effort is needed to tonight if the Heat is to become the 12th team in NBA history to win back-to-back champions. It would certainly bolster James’ career resume and become the climax in the re-write of his legacy.
For the time being though, LeBron should be the only one worried about the legacy he leaves behind. Basketball fans, like you and I, should just sit back and enjoy the moment tonight. There is only one narrative we should be concerned with: The best player will need a heroic effort to lead his team to a championship in Game 7. When was the last time that happened? Kobe Bryant was one of the best players in 2010, but not the obvious greatest. Michael Jordan never played in an NBA Finals Game 7.
If James and the Heat win, the word “dynasty” will be brought up. If he loses, the words “disappointing” and “rebuild” will be uttered. Until the outcome is decided, just enjoy the spectacle of tonight and hope that in a year from now, we will be in a similar situation. It’s just like being in school. Enjoy the moment, put-off the writing until later.