Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 6/21/12

Not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven, not eight. Just one. And for now, that should be enough.

Since he signed with Miami in 2010 we have spent countless hours dissecting LeBron’s game, seeing flaws in places where other players would be praised for greatness. We questioned his clutch, his poise and even his desire. On the biggest stage, while under an even bigger microscope, he gave us answers.

We wanted him to be a closer, and heck, why wouldn’t we? Jordan was, so was Kobe. Magic, Bird, even his own teammate Dwyane Wade. All of them had a knack for making big shots in the big games, and from the day he entered the league, it was expected that LeBron would add his name to the list of elite playoff finishers. He was “The Chosen One”, “The King”, “The Next MJ.” It would only be natural for him to be a closer.

It took some time for LeBron to live up to that billing. He had his moments, most notably his Game 5 epic against the Pistons, but he also had his shortcomings. He struggled in his first Finals’ appearance while being swept by the Spurs in ’07. In 2009, when the Cavs were shot out of the Eastern Conference Finals by Orlando, LeBron lost a series in which his team held home court advantage – something that Jordan never did. The next year LeBron disappeared (and possibly quit on his team) in the final stages of Cleveland’s series against Boston. And of course there was last year’s debacle in the Finals, where James was often a non factor in the fourth quarter.

After these playoffs, we can officially put an end to the “LeBron can’t close” conversations. You want a closer? His 3-pointer in Game 4 of the Finals while hobbling with leg cramp should be sufficient for you. How about a saver? LeBron saved Miami’s season with his Game 6 masterpiece against Boston. And don’t look past his ability to close as a defender. The Heat hold the Larry O’Brien Trophy because LeBron held Kevin Durant in check during fourth quarters.

We wanted LeBron to be an alpha-male. We thought he took the easy way out when he teamed up with Wade and Bosh in Miami. But I implore you to look up the past 20 NBA Champions. You will be hard pressed to find a team without multiple perennial All-Stars. Off the top of my head the only two I can think of that might qualify are the 2011 Mavericks and the 2004 Pistons. And for every one of those teams I am sure you will find at least three others that had multiple Hall-of-Famers. Think about that for a second. The closest thing LeBron had to an All-Star in Cleveland was Mo Williams. The closest thing to a Hall-of-Famer? Cavaliers color-commentator Austin Carr (and he’s only in the college basketball Hall-of-Fame!)

We wanted LeBron to be a champion. He took care of that Thursday night. It’s time that we finally celebrate him and all of his accomplishments. It’s time that we give The King his due. At least for just one day.

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-E.L. Speyer

 

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