It's been a few days since LeBron James and the Miami Heat exorcised their demons by winning the NBA Championship in five games and captured the Larry O'Brian Trophy. Regardless of whether you deride James, or venerate him, you have to respect the fact that he put up one of the best individual playoff performances in the history of the league.
James averaged 30.3 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 5.6 assists and put the choker labels and 'three quarters in a change for a dollar' jokes to rest. His triple-double in Game 5 of the Finals that sealed the deal when the Heat topped the Thunder, 121-106; that performance also granted him with the coveted title of the Finals MVP.
Now that the pressure is off James' shoulders because of his recent claim to fame, it's no longer a question of, when will get it; but now it's a question of, "how many more rings will he get?" There's no question that James has upped his game this year and according to him, he was "getting back to the basics." He will win multiple championships, but he is still losing a battle.
The turn of events with the NBA fan base's feelings towards James started when he organized, "The Decision," an hour long prime-time televised broadcast that probably only needed to be all of about two minutes, when he decided to take his "talents to Miami" and configure the super trio that was Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, and King James himself.
James lost more than 42 million fans, based on approximate numbers from the possible landing spots James almost suited up for (i.e. New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Cleveland). Cleveland fans especially were crushed at the fact that James betrayed the city that brought him fame, and coddled him during his first few NBA years. The Cavaliers owner, Dan Gilbert, even wished "harm" upon James by saying that he hopes karma catches up with him, and that he will never be able to step foot in Cleveland without a security team.
Minutes after James announced his decision publicly, there was amateur footage of Cleveland fans burning James' jerseys. It was safe to say that he was no longer the sought out hero for the franchise.
James' popularity also took a spin when he was "not showing up for the fourth quarter." Jokes surfaced about the issue, and James was not fazed nor did he address the comments, but continued to remain a non-factor in the fourth quarter, especially during playoff time.
The public also took offense to his comments made after the Heat lost to the Mavericks in the NBA Finals last year, when James was quoted saying, "you all have to go back to your normal lives tomorrow."
This year, King James changed his attitude, and it was evident that he made this change early on in the season. James was less selfish then ever before, and was "getting back to the basics" as he had said. You can tell in his eyes that something had clicked with him this past off-season, and he was driven to capture that Finals trophy.
He also improved and changed his game, and was able to put up some stellar numbers this year, capturing the regular season MVP and the NBA Finals MVP. It's a given that his popularity has increased slightly, as well as his respect "as a player".
However, will he ever be able to win over the NBA fans, and gain their respect not just as a player, but as a person too?
James single-handedly, with help from the rest of the Miami Heat, climbed atop the NBA's mountaintop. He put up stellar numbers, and was able to show the NBA world that he was capable of winning the title. He was also able to save Erik Spoelstra's job, and kept the "Big 3" intact.
James has a lot to be proud of and he deserves all the credit, respect, and "props." However, King James, single-handedly, is losing the popularity battle with NBA fans, and no matter how many titles James win, it's doubtful that he can ever wi