LeBron James: How Becoming an NBA Champion Will Change the Heat Star in 2012-13

Stephen BabbFeatured ColumnistSeptember 20, 2012

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat celebrates with the Bill Russell Finals MVP  trophy after the Heat won 121-106 against the Oklahoma City Thunderin Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June  21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

You can't help but wonder what will become of LeBron James after the quest that so defined him lost some of its novelty.

Sure, he's not done with that pursuit, especially not if he plans to bring all those championships to Miami as promised. But winning a second title won't be easy, to say nothing of how arduous a fifth or sixth might be.

Possible, yes–just not easy. And that's exactly what will keep James hungry in a way few can match. 

We've long known just how motivated this guy is. He'll always find something to push him: avenging his NBA Finals losses to San Antonio and Dallas, proving his detractors wrong, earning the adoration of his fans, becoming this game's best player of all time.

So long as there are unconquered challenges–and there always will be–James will have something driving him.

If LeBron were the kind of competitor who'd be satisfied by one title, he wouldn't have gotten this far in the first place. He had it made from day one, a preordained superstar plucked from the high-school ranks in Akron, Ohio. James has had every opportunity to just call it a day, making his money and collecting stats for the Cleveland Cavaliers.

For better or worse, he wanted more. He'll always want more.

Winning a championship won't change that. 

If anything, it will make James more confident. With the monkey off his back, he'll go into every game knowing that while he still has a few things to prove, he only have to prove them to himself. There's no longer any doubting what he can do and when he can do it.

He may still decide to pass the ball rather than taking a final, clutch shot of his own. But we'll know this time that he did it because it was the right basketball decision, and not because he was worried about missing.

The only thing he'll be worried about this season is doing whatever it takes to keep winning from one game to the next. If anything, he'll be more focused.

It helps that so many have forgiven him after watching him finally claim that ring.

Remember that this is the man who told ESPN's Rachel Nichols in 2011 that he wanted nothing to do with being the bad guy (via USA Today's Tom Weir):

"During my first seven years in the NBA I was always the liked one. To be on the other side, they call it the dark side, or the villain, whatever they call it . . . It was definitely challenging for myself. It was a situation I had never been in before. I took a long time to adjust to it. It didn't feel good."

Yes, LeBron will still have his share of enemies. Regardless of the Cleveland saga and his various missteps, those enemies come with the territory of being so successful.

But those enemies no longer define him.

Now he defines himself, and he'll continue to define himself as one of the greatest players hoops fans have ever witnessed–this time with a little less distraction.