Is LeBron James better than Michael Jordan? Good lord, who cares.
I love basketball and I love the NBA. But the breathless attention given to LeBron James' every waking action is mind-numbing. And the worst part about him winning a championship is that the same people who called him a choker and "LeBrick" and all that noise are bowing to his greatness with barely any acknowledgement that they were killing him two weeks ago. Yeah, he's always been great, but he's been flawed too. There's a reason it took a championship-encrusted triple-double in the fifth game of the NBA Finals for people to stop criticizing him.
LeBron is an enigma. He has the resume of a complete choke artist and the resume of being clutch. His first ever road playoff game was a triple-double; he scored 48 points and single-handedly beat the Detroit Pistons in Game 5 of the '07 conference finals; a year later, he scored 45 points in Game 7 against the Celtics; the year after that, he hit a buzzer-beater against Orlando and contributed on their first 29 fourth quarter points in Game 5; last year against the Bulls, he hit a few clutch shots to send Miami to the finals, and this year, his play over the course of the playoffs was nothing short of spectacular.
And at the same time, there's the dark half to the NBA's Harvey Dent. This is the same player that until this year never scored above his average in an NBA Finals game, who flat out quit on the Cavs towards the end of their 2010 series with Boston, who seemingly has a penchant for not wanting the ball in tough spots, including the 2011 finals, when he was practically invisible in the fourth quarter. And if you really were completely confident, not a doubt in your mind, when LeBron James went to the line in a tough situation, you're lying to yourself.
Winning a ring shrouds that last paragraph, but only briefly. Most athletes never again have to prove themselves once they get a title. But LeBron is judged by how many he gets, not if he gets one. And this same criticism will just repeat itself a year from now if the Heat show even the slightest trace of mortality. LeBron is tremendous, but there's just enough doubt with him -- just enough times that he doesn't show up -- that there will always be analysts pretending that they know what's wrong with him, if there even is a what.
LeBron is an amazing player. Anyone with any appreciation for the game knows that he's going to retire as one of the five greatest players who ever lived. But with The Decision, and with the lack of respect he gets for joining a team that already has two superstars, this love that he's getting from people is just the Honeymoon. If the Heat lose in 2013, it'll be like it never happened. For now though, everyone can now appreciate at last that despite everything that swirls around him, he's an incredible player.