NBA Finals: How Many Titles Will LeBron James Win?

 @http://twitter.com/jtalty on June 22 2012 9:42 AM

LeBron James finally achieved what he has long sought: a NBA title.

James' triple-double on Thursday night helped the Heat cruise to a 121-106 win to knock out the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games.

It was a moment that James has wanted for a long time and one could see the pure joy in his eyes when he finally touched the Larry O'Brien Championship trophy after falling short in two previous NBA Finals trips.

I'm happy now that eight years later, nine years later since I've been drafted, that I can finally say that I'm a champion, and I did it the right way, James, the Finals MVP, told reporters after the triumphant moment. I didn't shortcut anything. You know, I put a lot of hard work and dedication in it, and hard work pays off. It's a great moment for myself.

James now has his first ring, but will he ever achieve the eight championship rings promised at that famous introductory press conference?

When James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh were introduced as Miami's Big 3 for the first time, James playfully told a crowd that they would win eight titles together in South Beach.

That proclamation would later haunt James as he was taunted at every city in America for The Decision and that guarantee. It was clear that it weighed on him during his first year in Miami and resulted in a disappointing loss to the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals.

But that disappointing series might be the greatest thing that ever happened to James. It forced him to reevaluate what he was doing as a player and actually work on some different post moves to balance his athleticism.

It was clear that opponents saw a hungrier, smarter James this season and that's a dangerous combination for the best basketball player in the world.

The best thing that happened to me was us losing in the Finals [in 2011], and me playing the way I played, James said. It was the best thing to ever happen to me in my career because basically I got back to the basics.

It humbled me. I knew I was going to have to change as a basketball player, and I was going to have to change as a person to get what I wanted.

James, 27, has finally matured as both a basketball player and a person. He is more willing to accept blame and that improved attitude has dramatically bolstered his play.

He might never win eight titles in this league - the Thunder will be a worthy opponent for many years to come - but there is zero doubt that this won't be the last time he hoists that championship trophy.

The main reason is that James has finally reached his potential. He's long been one of the best players in the NBA, but too often passed up opportunities to win games and lacked that killer instinct that so many were hoping to see.

All of those supposed flaws need to be thrown out of the window. James put together one of the most impressive Finals performances in recent memory, averaging 28.6 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game.

His win on Thursday night gave him not only the title he has long desired, but also freedom he has never experienced. He will no longer have to answer to critics telling him that he is incapable of winning a big game in clutch time.

Look for James to be rejuvenated by this championship run and come back even stronger next season. There's no point in making a guarantee on how many more titles he'll win  -- we've all seen how well that works out - but be prepared to see a few more rings on those big hands of LeBron James.

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