In the NBA, it always comes back to Michael Jordan. When LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami four years ago, people could not help but invoke Jordan. When Chicago stumbled against the Pistons year after year, Jordan did not bolt for a better situation. He did not bail when things got difficult.
Of course, it was a silly, lazy way to look at things. It ignored all sorts of different contextual information — particularly the style of roster building that had gained popularity in the league, the constrictions of the NBA’s salary cap and luxury tax and the complete failure of Cleveland management to put him in a position to succeed.
However, in one way, James has always been like Mike: He seemed determined to write his own story. Jordan won three championships, and then walked away from basketball to try his hand at baseball. After nearly two years in the Chicago White Sox minor-league system, he came back to the Bulls, and won three more titles. (Let’s not discuss his sojourn in Washington.) It was a unique path, befitting a player whose talents and will transcended what we had seen before.
Now, James has done the same. (Photo: Mark Duncan/The Associated Press)
Victory in Game 7 brought more than another crown for LeBron James and the Miami Heat. It validated the team and its leader, forever cementing their place among the NBA’s greats.
For the vanquished San Antonio Spurs, it simply compounded the misery of a championship that got away.
James led the Heat to their second straight title, scoring 37 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in a 95-88 victory Thursday night in a tense game that was tight until Miami pulled away in the final minute.
LeBron James had 29 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists, and the Miami Heat tied a franchise record with their 14th straight victory, rallying to beat the New York Knicks 99-93 on Sunday. (Photo: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
In May 2010, James, then a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers, was contending with two separate mysteries. The first concerned impending free agency, and the decision — it was still lower case then — he would make. The second concerned his inexplicably passive performance in Game 5 in Cleveland, a 15-point sleepwalk through an integral game.
In June 2012, James’ future was tied to the Miami Heat, and his recent playoff performance had been hard to deny. Still, the memory lingered of James’ half-speed triple double in his last game as a Cavalier, which he capped by taking off his jersey off while cameras remained fixed on him.
Heading into the evening of June 7, 2012, many observers expected another bewildering moment to become part of James’ not-good-enough legacy. (Photo: J Pat Carter/The Associated Press)
Fancy, fancy: Jay-Z, Beyonce, LeBron James, and Savannah Brinson attend the 2012 Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year award presentation (which was given to LeBron) at Espace on Wednesday in New York City. (Photo by Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images)
Bruce Arthur: It’s not that LeBron James needed to be placed on the cover of Sports Illustrated in an all-black suit, looking worn and weathered and somehow at peace, to be validated. He is the magazine’s Sportsman of the Year for 2012, but it’s the 18th time he’s been on the cover. Other than the fact that he’s only got one championship ring on his fingers, he almost looks retired, on his way to a tribute dinner wearing a watch Miami gave him as a goodbye gift or something. He has always looked older than he is, even when he was 18 and 6-foot-8, 240 pounds. Now he looks aged.
But then, it’s been a long road, and he hasn’t travelled in a straight line. He was 16 when Larry Bird put him in the Hall of Fame; he was 18 when he showed up on the stage in Manhattan in the blazing white suit, like a preacher or a saviour, as the most anticipated No. 1 draft pick of all time. It only feels like a lifetime achievement award because that’s what 2012 felt like for him — his first NBA title after nine years, unexpectedly delivered the hard way; the domination of Olympic basketball, where he is clearly head and shoulders above a peer group that is wide and deep. His third NBA MVP award. (Photo: Walter Iooss Jr./The Associated Press/Sports Illustrated)
The Miami Heat found a way to beat their biggest rival anyway.
Dwyane Wade scored 29 points, James finished 26 points and 10 rebounds while missing much of the second half, and the reigning NBA champion Heat beat the Boston Celtics 120-107 on Tuesday night in the season opener for both teams.
Ray Allen, in his first game with Miami since leaving Boston over the summer, added 19 points for the Heat, as did Chris Bosh, who had a late flurry that helped Miami prevail. (Photo by Andrew Innerarity/Reuters)