LeBron James and the 10 Reasons Why He Might Never Win an NBA Title
Winning seven rings and passing Michael Jordan is slowly growing out of reach, and even three or four rings looks difficult with the currently top-heavy NBA landscape.
With the Miami Heat's recent four-game skid compared to the Lakers' seven-game winning streak that included a blowout win against San Antonio (who had just beat Miami by 30 points), LeBron may end up watching Kobe Bryant put on his sixth ring before he wins one of his own.
We all assumed that LeBron, at 18 years old, would come into the league and win plenty of championships throughout his career. Now, at 26, the future for winning a title does not seem quite as bright.
10. Greatness Does Not Always Equal a Ring
Karl Malone, Elgin Baylor, Charles Barkley and John Stockton were all great, Hall of Fame players, but none of them won an NBA championship.
Even a guy like Wilt Chamberlain, who may be the most dominant big man of all time, only finished with two rings. It took Michael Jordan six years before he won his first.
Winning an NBA championship is an incredible accomplishment that not every star experiences. There is a reason players become as emotional as they do when they finally hold onto the Larry O'Brien Trophy.
Even if LeBron never wins an NBA title, he will still go down as one of the all-time great players in the NBA. James is electrifying, has several more MVP-level seasons in him and dominates the game at the small forward position like no one ever did before.
It's hard to believe he won't win at least a couple titles, but even without them, the man is a tremendous basketball player.
9. Los Angeles, Boston, San Antonio and Dallas Too Good Right Now
What's concerning about the Miami Heat's struggles against the NBA's elite teams is the fact that come playoff time, they will have to be able to win four out of seven games against high-caliber teams for at least three rounds in a row.
If the playoffs started today, the Heat would have to win a best-of-seven series against the New York Knicks, followed by the Chicago Bulls, followed by either the Boston Celtics or Orlando Magic. If they're able to win 12 out of those 21 games, they would then face off with one of the three dominant Western foes (Lakers, Spurs, Mavericks) in the NBA Finals.
On the season, the Heat are a combined 4-12 against the teams I mentioned above. To believe that 20 games from now the Heat will have figured things out enough to win four out of seven against all these teams seems a little out of reach.
8. New Salary Cap
Say the NBA institutes a $60 million hard cap for next year's season. Miami's big three adds up to $52 million just by themselves. By the 2013-14 season, their contracts will almost equal $60 million.
The Heat will have to fill out the nine other spots on their roster with a grand total of $8 million. This means they won't be able to keep Udonis Haslem, Mike Miller and Joel Anthony and will be forced to find cheaper, less effective role players instead.
7. Teams Will Not Want To Make a Trade with the Heat
At the end of this season, Miami will evaluate its roster and decide if it needs to find a more effective point guard and a more dominant big man.
What team is going to want to help the Heat become better? No one in the East will be crazy enough to send another scoring threat to the Heat's roster, and teams like Denver out West are not going to send Nene over for Mike Miller and Eddie House.
The Heat will have to make all their moves in free agency, selling the idea of taking less money for a chance at winning an NBA ring.
6. Dwyane Wade's Age
However, Dwyane Wade is 29 years old, and that is by no means a young 29. Wade has had several injuries and surgeries throughout his career that have put his body further along than other 29-year-old players.
Let's say some combination of the Lakers/Celtics/Spurs/Mavericks win the next two titles. This means that going into the 2012-13 season, LeBron James' superstar teammate would be 31 years old.
To put this in perspective, Kobe Bryant right now is 32 years old and people question how many years he has left that he can perform at a high level. Wade has had more injuries than Bryant, which makes me wonder if Wade will play much past the age of 34.
5. New York Knicks
The New York Knicks are assembling their own Big Three. With Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in place, the Knicks plan to bring in Chris Paul or Deron Williams after Chauncey Billups finishes his contract at the point guard position.
This is very bad news for LeBron.
A Big Three of Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire would be more than equipped to challenge Miami. The Knicks will also have Landry Fields, who far exceeds Miami's fourth option, and Toney Douglas, who continues to improve under Billups' mentorship.
The Knicks and Heat are destined to renew their epic '90s playoff battles in the upcoming seasons.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
Not this year and probably not next year, but eventually the Oklahoma City Thunder will make it out of the Western Conference and into the NBA Finals.
They will be an incredibly tough out for the Miami Heat.
The Miami Heat have no one to guard Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant is as much of a scoring threat as LeBron James, and the front line of Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka will be too strong for Miami. The Thunder in three or four years will still be young, too.
Oklahoma City has great on-court chemistry and the management has shown that it believes in its current roster. Even with the shift of power seemingly going to the Eastern Conference, the Thunder will be no pushover matchup in an NBA Finals.
3. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls are ahead of schedule in terms of their level of play.
Who would have thought they would sweep their season series against the Miami Heat this year and be in the hunt for the No. 1 seed 60 games into the season?
The Bulls are also a fairly complete team. They have an MVP-level point guard, a dominant front line with good backups in Taj Gibson and the quickly improving Omer Asik and their coach has instilled a gritty defensive mentality.
The Bulls are a shooting guard away from going to the NBA Finals. They are a young team and will be there to haunt LeBron for years to come.
2. Big Three Trend
By teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron James may have created a nightmare scenario by encouraging other teams to create their own Big Threes.
If the New York Knicks have one with Chris Paul, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, and then Dwight Howard teams up with two others and Blake Griffin does one too, suddenly the Heat will be one of four or five teams that have multiple superstars.
If this is the case, then the Miami Heat will not have the advantage over everybody in star power. LeBron will have to win a title fast before Dwyane Wade is too old, and then he'd be stuck with just Chris Bosh in a new league that requires teams to have three stars to win.
1. Small Forward Curse
Besides the Boston Celtics, no team in over 30 years has won an NBA championship when their small forward is their best player.
Think about recent history. Shooting guard Michael Jordan grabbed six rings, power forward Tim Duncan four, Kobe/Shaq five, a balanced Pistons team grabbed one and a dominant big man Hakeem Olajuwon got two. Before that there was Magic Johnson (five), Isiah Thomas (two) and Larry Bird (three).
Celtics small forwards Paul Pierce and Larry Bird have been able to do it, but not since Julius Erving of the Philadelphia 76ers has a small forward led his team to an NBA championship. In Erving's case, he had Finals MVP Moses Malone to help carry the load.
It seems weird to imagine today's small forward superstars like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony ending their careers without a ring, but history has not been kind to their position (with the exception of Boston).
LeBron James' best chances to win are these next four years, when he has a pre-33-year-old Dwyane Wade. The problem is that teams like Los Angeles, San Antonio, Boston and Dallas will still be at the top of the league in the next two years, and after that, there may be more Big Threes floating around along with Oklahoma City and Chicago.
Although I see no chance of Dan Gilbert's prophecy coming true about Cleveland winning a ring before LeBron, an NBA title is no guarantee for King James.
Or He Could Prove Me Wrong
Gotta love the permanent filing power of the internet.
I had completely forgotten about this article until today, June 24, 2012.
Everything above certainly was somewhat of a hurdling block, but LeBron James overcame the challenges and now the question isn't can he ever win one, but can he win:
Not five, not six, not seven...
Congratulations LeBron James, you are a champion.