Why There Will Be Even More Pressure on LeBron James Next Year
Sorry, he's not off the hook.
Just because James removed himself from the no-ring club doesn't mean there won't be pressure on him from fans and the media next year.
He's now the defending regular season and finals MVP with an upgraded roster. He's the guy who promised Miami he would win more than a half-dozen championships.
He's King James.
Have a look at these key reasons why there will be even more pressure on LeBron in 2012-13.
More Weapons to Work With
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Ray Allen's choice to join the Heat makes Miami a lethal offensive team—on paper, at least.
Adding the NBA's all-time leader in three-point field goals will help stretch defenses and open up more options for Miami's playmakers.
Allen's ankle shouldn't be an issue next fall, and he'll be working the baseline and spotting up, giving opposing defenses plenty to worry about.
With Allen in the fold, the Heat will be heavy favorites to emerge from the Eastern Conference and vie for another title.
The Allen-related pressure from fans and media will be simple: LeBron's championship-winning squad just got upgraded, so he'd better be able to win a title with Ray Allen.
'Not One, Not Two, Not Three...'
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At the first sign of trouble next year, people will turn to LeBron's infamous words at his welcome party in 2010. They'll remember that he pledged "not one, not two..." all the way up to "not seven" championships.
Even if the city of Miami realizes that seven or eight titles is a bit lofty, they'll still want more than one. With LeBron in his prime, surrounded by Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Ray Allen, the fans won't settle for anything less than domination.
A rough patch or losing streak will spark questions and doubts. Critics will indict the squad for underachieving, and there will be even more scrutiny on the team than there was in the past.
Everyone's Already Predicting a Title
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It's LeBron's championship to lose. It shouldn't come as a surprise, but the Heat are already the media's favorite to win the 2013 title, especially after Ray Allen's decision.
Bleacherreport.com: LeBron James: Get Ready for a Grand Encore from the King in 2012-13
Bleacherreport.com: Miami Heat: Why They Are the Clear Favorites to Win the 2013 Title
Picking Up D-Wade's Slack
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Dwyane Wade is a couple years older and a bit more injury prone than King James, and his current knee injury is a point of concern for the franchise.
He was shrewd enough to get LeBron to come play with him in 2010, and one of the excellent secondary benefits was the fact that LeBron could bail him out from time to time and take the pressure off him.
If Wade is substantially hobbled next year, or just declining a bit, LeBron will be called upon to pull more weight.
This could manifest itself in and out of the huddle: Erik Spoelstra may expect more from James in certain situations, and the fans will expect him to bail the team out if Wade or Bosh aren't 100 percent.
The Inevitable Comparisons
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It's not fair to LeBron, but he'll always be compared to Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.
The Jordan comparison is the most unfair, but until someone shatters the NBA landscape, MJ will be the standard by which all NBA superstars are measured.
People discussing LeBron's legacy will watch closely in 2012-13: Will James join the pantheon of legends who've won back-to-back titles, or is he just a flash in the pan like most title winners?
Even though LeBron is a markedly different player than Jordan, Magic, or Kobe, he'll always field questions about how he compares to them. Those questions will only increase next year.