Since 2003 we have all been witnesses. It started in Akron, Ohio and then spread like wildfire. The nation knew his name. He was dubbed ‘The King” at a young age and it’s been a no brainer he has delivered to the people. So he should be considered the greatest of all time? Not exactly. For more than a decade Lebron James has had many question marks on his game. Not aggressive enough. Not clutch. Not a great leader. James has always been the center of criticism but continues to put up Hall of Fame numbers. Why is he hated so much? Should we cut him some slack? With him just winning his third championship, the major questions start to come into play about his legacy.
Nothing like we have never seen
At 6’8 and 260 pounds, James is a freak of nature. He just might be the most physically gifted player ever. He possesses a rare combination of speed and power on the basketball court while looking like an All-Pro tight end. From him chase down blocks to his posturizing dunks, James overall built allows him to do almost anything on the court. As he first transitioned to the league, he was more of a point forward but as his body developed James could virtually guard anyone on the court. Many of the great players we have seen, have never been this blessed athletically.
As great as a player James one of his biggest question marks his doubters bring up is his lack of killer instinct. In this era, fans love to see a player take over a game and put the team on his back. Performances like Kobe Bryant’s 81 point game or Michael Jordan’s flu game provided basketball fans with a vintage killer instinct. Scoring points is what people like to see. When looking at James overall game, it mostly translates to Magic Johnson which is a pass first mentality. Sharing the ball around is not a bad thing but when you are considered a top 3 player in this league, everyone is going to expect you to score when needed. With that, he is dubbed to not always have that mindset to take over games.
Now there have been various moments where James has put the team on his back. In the 2007 Eastern Conference Playoffs, James scored 48 points including the last 29 out of 30 points over the Detroit Pistons. Another noteworthy performance was his Game 6 performance against the Boston Celtics where he scored 45 points and helped avoid elimination. What people seem to be confused about is why does he not do this on a regular basis? The way he plays the game is a factor. People really forget how great he actually is.
The summer of 2011, changed the basketball world forever. James decides to take his talents to South Beach as a member of the Miami Heat. He quickly became the villain to those who felt he was jump championship chasing. Though he embraced this role, James would eventually get a couple rings but a 2-2 overall record in the finals did not sit well. The killer mentality eventually would come back into play as there were certain games he did not show up. In the 2011 NBA Finals, James only averaged 17.8 points per game. There were moments were he was criticized for not putting the team on his back like in game four where he only scored 8 points. Fast forward to this year’s finals where he is joins another big three with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Being in this era where building a team championship level team around a bunch of superstars may not seem like the legit thing to do, James did prove in this year’s finals he can take over games. He led both teams in nearly very statistical category. His 41 point performance in game five helped turn the series around. Performances like this show the world he can step in when needed in big games but why not every game.
Lebron James is a great player but has made his share of mistakes in his career. Many NBA fans will always be quick to remember his mistakes if he doesn’t continue to win championships. This is something that comes with being a great player. Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, and other greats took a lot of criticism for their play. In this age of technology and where the media is always watching you, every word that comes out of James mouth is listened to very carefully. This constant battle of James vs the world will continue go on even after he hangs it up.