As the Miami Heat's second crack at a tougher-than-expected championship approaches, this team is feeling the need to win one, and soon, lest their little master scheme be proven ill-advised—complete with compromised legacies.
First off, there's the commonly held idea that a player of his calibre should eventually stand out in the history books as a champion. He has the skills to be one of the greatest players ever, and that kind of talent comes with lofty expectations.
Second, anyone who liberally refers to himself as "King" is only going to get so much rope before people start demanding that he earn the right to keep calling himself that. No matter how impressive he is to watch, you can only go so far with "King of the Regular Season."
Third, unlike some ringless greats before him, LeBron has already had (read: wasted) several knocks on that door to the promised land, to no avail. Over the past five seasons, LeBron has been either an NBA Finalist or owner of the league's best record every year but one.
If you only get one shot at the bullseye, you're excused for missing it, but the more shots you burn without winning that teddy bear, the worse you look.
Finally, anyone who publicly predicts multiple championships the moment they join a team is officially on the hook to back up their cocky, cocky words.
Furthermore, the mere formation of Miami Thrice—which many see as a damning evasion of proper effort—puts him in a position where if he can't win a title in short order with the team of his dreams, he stands a chance to go down as a phenomenal loser—a guy who can't even win with unprecedented odds in his favor.
After all, how much of a leg up can someone have and keep failing? James possesses the most uncanny physical gifts ever seen in a player, his skill set is wider and more varied than any player today and the team around him is so loaded that no player ever has had fewer excuses not to prevail.
Imagine if Muhammad Ali had been unable to beat Joe Frazier with steel gloves. It would be pretty impossible to call him The Greatest under such circumstances, regardless of his unparalleled technical prowess.
All of these points explain why James has to win a title ASAP to silence some of his critics—and I stress some, since half of his critics will be utterly nonplussed at any championship he wins on a team this stacked. Big numbers are nice, but tell that to Dominique Wilkins.
LeBron's mad hunt for a championship has become such a dominant part of his career narrative that it can only be described as all-encompassing. It's gotten to where it consumes him, as it does fans and media, who can't help but harp over his continued championship futility.
In joining Dywane Wade and Chris Bosh to Miami, LeBron not only showed that he buys into this perception, he more or less validated it.
So how did a guy like Kevin Garnett go 13 years—amid heavy fanfare and media review—before winning a title and never get anything resembling the criticism that LeBron does after half as long?
Again, not calling himself King certainly helped, but mainly it's because we generally don't begrudge guys who aren't holding a royal flush (i.e. boundless natural gifts plus a super-team of their choosing) for taking longer to climb that mountain.
Fans and media tend to grasp the normal odds and mathematics at play: There's only one champ per year, and there are going to be some guys who—regardless of their immense talent—need more time to reach the hump, let alone get over it.
Not so for LeBron. He has more going for him in his quest for a title than perhaps any player ever, so for him to (somehow) continue failing despite his many, many advantages over the competition would be almost an achievement in itself. Noteworthy, at the very least.
One more year with no ring would start pushing the needle back on LeBron's deified reputation and go down as a memorable part of NBA history for all the wrong reasons. In the process, it would lend massive, perhaps irreversible, amounts of credence to the "LeBron is a loser" argument, put forth by the people whom he's been so desperately trying to silence.
Logic Johnson is a featured columnist and syndicated writer on Bleacher Report, conscious rapper and host of the old-school funk show "Listen! You Smell Something?" on CKUT 90.3 FM, greater Montreal.
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