MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/22 June) – After three tries, LeBron James won his first championship title in the NBA and the second for the Miami Heat. His first finals were with the Cleveland Cavaliers and the second with his current team. He was simply overpowering in game five of the series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, registering a triple double and exercising court leadership that ignited the Heat’s offensive prowess.
The victory has put to rest doubts on James’ credentials as a star player. Moreover, he now joins the elite list of players who have won the Most Valuable Player plum for the regular season and the finals in the same year. Michael Jordan, then playing for the Chicago Bulls, won the distinction in two successive seasons, in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
On the other hand, however, Miami’s victory has given rise to more expectations for James. The championship ring that he now wears will remind him not only of the thrill of victory. Having won his first title, fans now expect him to bag more honors. The pressure to satisfy these expectations will begin to weigh on him as soon as the 2012-2013 opens.
But the fans are not to blame. James himself has made it know upon leaving Cleveland that he intends to win multiple titles with the Heat. Dwyane Wade, the finals MVP in 2006 when Heat bagged its first title, has agreed to slide to a supporting role behind the team’s James-led march to fame.
So the question that now confronts James is whether he can win a second championship. And if he gets to win a second title, people will ask if he can win a third.
James’ problem is that others before him had set a high bar for excellence in the NBA.
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Lakers from 1969-1989, had six championships and a record six regular season MVP awards.
Jordan also had six championships, all with the Bulls. He won his first three titles in three successive seasons, 1990-91, 1991-92 and 1992-93. He “retired” in 1993, but returned to the league for the 1994-95 season where they lost in the playoffs to the Orlando Magic, then led by Shaquille O’Neal. The Bulls reasserted their supremacy in the next three seasons, 1995-96, 1996-97 and 1997-98.
Kobe Bryant, the Lakers’ shooting guard, already has five titles to his name, winning the first three with O’Neal, from 2000 to 2002. After parting ways with O’Neal, who moved to the Heat before retiring, Bryant led the Lakers to two championships, in 2009 and 2010. He got the finals MVP on both encounters. He has one regular season MVP award. The 2010 title avenged the Lakers’ loss to the Boston Celtics in the 2008 finals. Still effective as a player, Bryant still dreams of grabbing a sixth title.
Larry Bird, a power forward who played for the Celtics his entire professional career, had three championships in five finals appearances and three MVP awards.
James has a lot of homework to do. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)