The 2011 NBA Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and the Miami Heat has acted as a stage to showcase LeBron James' ability or inability to win. The man praised as "King" since coming out of high school has yet to wear that crown, and it leaves supporters and doubters all the more anxious.
Being touted as the greatest has many drawbacks. LeBron will always be criticized for his actions and game play, whether it's fair or not. Many still have not forgiven him for how he handled "The Decision." Others may dislike his attitude or style of play.
By heading to Miami, LeBron hoped he would finally have all the pieces to make him a true champion, but to his critics, that still won't be enough. With people like Scottie Pippen calling him the greatest player ever, LeBron will need to do more than any player ever has.
That means one ring isn't enough. One ring will put him on the level of Kevin Garnett, Moses Malone and Oscar Robertson. Two championships will put him on the level of Isiah Thomas, David Robinson, Hakeem Olajuwon and Wilt Chamberlain (only Wilt is ever considered in the conversation for greatest player ever).
Larry Bird has three rings, Tim Duncan and Shaq have four, Kobe and Magic have five and Kareem and Jordan both have six. Then there is Bill Russell and his amazing 11 championships.
What LeBron does will never be good enough simply because of expectations impossible to live up to. Even with some of the best stats in history, he may still never live up to his hype. He will have to win six rings to stop some comparisons to Kobe and win seven to stop others comparing him to Jordan. Heck, to be safe, he just needs to win 12 championships.
With the team he has now he has a great chance of winning not only the championship in 2011, but more in the next few years. At 26, he still has time but it will be hard. It took Jordan seven seasons to win his first ring and Kobe did it in five. LeBron is in his eighth season.
Even with his age, years of play will take a toll on him. He plays a very physical game and carries a lot of weight that can wear down on his body. Kobe is only 32, but his body is showing wear and age after 15 seasons.
If LeBron were to win six straight, which is near impossible no matter how good a team is, he would be 32 when done. Jordan won at a much older age but also joined the NBA later and took two years off.
I have no doubt LeBron will be considered one of the greatest players ever, but the question is will he be considered above Michael, Kobe, Magic and Kareem? To do that he has to win and keep winning.