This was the easiest choice of the entire list, as the 2012 NBA Championship NEEDS to belong to LeBron James. He simply must win it this year, or his legacy faces a major crossroads right at the peak of his career.
After that colossal failure in the 2011 NBA Finals, James has been heavily scrutinized for his lack of end-game production and supposed “choking” in the game’s final moments. In fact, LeBron had another “choke job” during the NBA All-Star game this season.
Despite his late-game shortcomings, “King James” has come back with a vengeance and has had perhaps the best all-around basketball of his career. With four games remaining, James has posted a jaw-dropping stat line of 27.1 points per game, 7.9 rebounds per game, 6.3 assists per game, 1.9 steals per game, a shooting percentage of 53.1 percent and a league-leading PER of 30.7.
LeBron is well on his way toward earning his third NBA MVP trophy, which would put him in truly elite company among the NBA’s all-time greats. Only eight players have won three or more MVP awards, including the likes of Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Moses Malone.
While the historical significance of this third MVP award is not lost on LeBron, his eye is on the ultimate prize: his first NBA championship. He simply must win it this year, for a multitude of reasons: to erase the memories of the 2011 Finals; to quiet the critics; to satisfy his fans; to validate his work ethic and talent; to not go down as a “choker”; to win a ring “as the man”; to begin his chase of Kobe Bryant’s five rings; and to try and live up to the “not two, not three, not four, not five” speech at his introductory conference with the Miami Heat.
There is too much at stake for LeBron James not to win it, and that is why James is the NBA superstar who needs to win a ring in 2012 more than anyone else.