LeBron James is facing the legacy question as his team failed once again to win a championship. Yes, Miami reached four straight NBA Finals — something that had not been done since the Celtics of the 1980s. Yes, the Heat were on the verge of a three-peat and won back-to-back titles.
But James was the one who boldly proclaimed when he joined the Miami Heat that he was there to win not one, not two, not three.
This is a bit of a trolling piece in that sense as James’ words are being thrown back in his face. The latest would be this comment from after Game Five (h/t Jeremy Woo of Point Forward):
“We went to four straight Finals in four years. We’re not discrediting what we were able to accomplish in these four years. We lost one, we won two, and we lost another one.
[We will] take 50 percent in four years in championships any day. Obviously, you want to win all of them, but that’s just the nature of the game. You win some, you lose some. You’ve just got to come back the next year and be better as an individual, as a team, and go from there.
James is already a punching bag for haters, often undeservedly.
But the truly great players are judged by championships and this blase attitude about losing in the Finals is certainly going to rub people the wrong way. James is now 2-3 in Finals appearances and has lost twice to Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the Spurs. James is not like Larry Bird losing to Magic Johnson or Magic Johnson losing to Julius Erving, Larry Bird, Isiah Thomas or Michael Jordan.
James is being judged by his peers at the top of the mountain and you cannot blame some for not being impressed with his record.
If you want to be considered among the greatest players in your sport, your performance and ability to win championships matter. And it is there James continues to come up short. And, as noted above, it is not like James is playing against other titans. It feels as if James should be a titan among men. His talent and his ability to take over games allows limping and, frankly, bad teams to play well above their ability and perform better than expected in the Playoffs.
True, a superstar player only gets as far as his teammates will take him. It is not James’ fault that he is constantly surrounded by underachieving players that he lifts up until the weight crushes him in the individualistic blame that comes from being the very best.
But being the best comes with those burdens.
Two out of four is half good. . . it is also half bad. And for a man who wants to be in the Pantheon of the NBA, half bad is all bad.