With his landing on the cover of Sports Illustrated while in high school, no one could possibly deny that LeBron James has always had an inordinate amount of pressure on him.
But from the time he told Jim Gray and the rest of the world in July 2010 that he was taking his talents to South Beach to just before that final buzzer sounded in Game 5 of the 2012 NBA Finals, LeBron James faced more pressure to win than likely any player in NBA history.
Since joining Miami, it didn't matter to the public in the slightest how many points LeBron scored a night or how versatile he was on the defensive end.
It was simply all about the ring.
And now that he has one, and less to prove to the public, it's a valid question to wonder if he will be less motivated.
Flashback to LeBron's first season in Miami: In the regular season, he averaged 26.7 points on 51.0 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds, 7.0 assists and 1.6 steals. In a five-game series win in the opening round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia 76ers, he averaged 24.2 points and 10.6 rebounds.
LeBron followed that up with incredible performances in two more five-game series victories against the rival Boston Celtics and the No. 1 seed Chicago Bulls. Not only did LeBron average more than 25 points per game in both series, he also, after facing criticisms of not being clutch all season, came up huge down the stretch in both series-ending games.
All the greatness that LeBron put forth in the 94 games he appeared in during the regular season and playoffs prior to the finals meant nothing. He was absolutely crucified by the media, so much so, that he cut himself off from the rest of the world and locked himself in his bedroom after the finals.
Just think about that for a second. A guy who finished that season with a PER of 27.34, was named to the All-Defensive first team and led his team to the NBA Finals was so heavily criticized for not having a ring that he couldn't bear to watch TV in fear of hearing his name mentioned.
Back to the present: Considering all the he had endured the past nine years and specifically in the prior two, winning that first championship meant an immeasurable amount to LeBron.
LeBron lifted the basketball world's heaviest weight off his shoulders.
So, will that cause LeBron take a foot off the gas pedal this season?
I mean, this guy entered the 2011-12 season hungrier for a championship that any athlete in recent memory because he knew what he faced if he entered another offseason ringless. Getting that monkey off his back did silence the majority of his critics, who absolutely had to be motivating him to succeed.
Regardless, the answer is definitively no.
Before he even set foot on a court in a Heat uniform, LBJ made it very clear that he joined the Heat with the expectations of multiple championships.
LeBron knows that the NBA players recognized as the greatest of all time hoisted the Larry O'Brien Trophy more than once.
So, it's no surprise he told Sports Illustrated after this year's finals that he's "not satisfied with one."
And he can't be. LeBron isn't covered like any other athlete in professional sports, and with the Heat being the favorites to win another championship this year, even with last season's title, he stands to face heaps of criticisms if they fall short of that goal.
But still, having already won a ring, LeBron has to enter this season more focused on winning for his legacy than silencing more of his critics.
LeBron wants to be remembered as one of the greatest to ever play. And with that as his goal and his incredible competitive nature, expect LeBron to be plenty motivated to try and bring another title to South Beach.
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