Jun 20, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Heat small forward LeBron James talks to the media practice for game five of the 2012 NBA Finals against the Oklahoma City Thunder at American Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Finals: Will LeBron James Begin to Evade Criticism?

For the few dozen of you who have followed me as a sports writer, you’ve seen me give LeBron James a pretty hard time.

It’s mainly that I just don’t like guys who have such colossal egos and so little to substantiate them. Before even entering the NBA, he was crowned “King James,” and for the first eight years of his career, he has been a king without a crown.

That may change tonight.

James’ Heat, now up 3 games to 1 over the Thunder, can close out the series tonight and escape with their championship rings. But will the criticism end there for James? Will I and others let him off the hook?

That depends. It depends on how he himself reacts to this ring. If he makes a lot of outlandish statements about it solidifying his place in the annals of all time greats, then yes, I will continue to berate James, because it takes more than one ring to put him anywhere near the realm of Kobe Bryant’s five rings, Jordan’s six, or even…Bill Russell’s eleven.

James has played one of the best playoffs runs in recent memory. He’s continued to show he is one of the best, but something tells me James will take that a step further, and start to say that he is the best. Maybe that’s because he already has? Upon joining the Heat, James made his infamous “Not 3, not 4…” statements about winning rings. Well, he has the first of those rings, or at least he likely will, but he is still a ways off from his goal of building a Heat legacy, and only time will tell whether James truly earns his way into the “Pantheon” (Credit: Bill Simmons) of great players, the best to ever play the game, the ones that people talk about when they reminisce and say “There will never be another…”

Will we some day hear those statements being made about LeBron? “There will never be another LeBron James?” I’m not sure. Physically, to be sure, he is a specimen, but it only seems that now his mental gifts are starting to be enough to make that actually matter.

So, LeBron will win his first ring this year, most likely, but will the criticism stop?

That’s not up to us, as much as it is to him. His words after winning this championship will dictate how we treat him.

Tags: Bill Russell Kobe Bryant Lebron James Miami Heat Michael Jordan

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