NBA Finals 2012: LeBron James Vindicated, Things Will Change and Stay the Same
He changed perceptions and altered misconceptions along the way, namely that he wasn't clutch.
His greatness was on display this entire postseason. James averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds and 5.6 assists in these playoffs.
The three-pointer he made over Thabo Sefolosha while dealing with cramps will be a lasting image of the finals.
Some things, however, will remain the same. Perceptions of him will continue to be divided.
"The Decision" and "not four, not five, not six..." happened a long time ago. No one put a gun to his head and made him do the things that have caused him to become so polarizing. He's even apologized for his actions, which wasn't necessary. Fair or not, that's just the way things are.
People perceived, felt, and reacted the way they saw fit. Such is life for superstar athletes in this day and social media age, especially LeBron James.
The pendulum of exaggeration runs the gamut. His critics go to extremes in nitpicking his every move while those that back him are over the top in proclaiming their support.
James can't be blamed for leaving Cleveland no matter how much people root for that city to reverse its dreary sports history. He left high school and—outside of giving up in a couple series' against the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic—gave the Cavs franchise all he had in spite of the ownership and management.
The backlash was and is still about how he handled or mishandled his departure.
Charles Barkley left Philadelphia for Phoenix while he was in his prime. Granted, he was traded and he wasn't a homegrown product. Leaving was still the best decision for him at that stage of his career. He went on to win his only MVP award and make the only finals appearance of his career after joining the Suns.
Sir Charles also returned to Philly and watched his jersey ascend to the rafters in an emotional halftime ceremony. Hard to envision this taking place for LeBron in Cleveland right now, but time will tell.
I haven't been the biggest post-decision LeBron fan, but he's the best player in the game. No matter how you slice it or how you feel about it, that's the truth.
He is poised to retain that title for a while. It's that simple.
As polarizing as all of this is, it isn't life or death. It's captivating, entertaining, high drama that we will all continue to watch. Nothing more, nothing less.
The 2012-13 NBA season will be here before we know it. LeBron will have his ring. His critics will still root for him to fail, his supporters will excitedly anticipate a repeat.
Things have changed, but they remain the same.
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