Call me a reluctant LeBron James fan.
I wanted to dislike the guy. He came to the NBA with more hype than a Kardashian wedding. He was a media darling while still in high school, and many fans had anointed him the next Michael Jordan before the Cleveland Cavaliers made him the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 NBA draft.
I’m not one for bandwagons or popular opinions, especially when it comes to athletes who are handed superstar status before they’ve ever really done anything. So I was skeptical, at best, about James early on.
He quickly made a believer out of me, and many others. And despite a rocky start to his tenure with the Miami Heat, I have no doubt whatsoever that James will find success in South Beach.
LeBron is a supreme talent
James is simply too good to stay down, regardless of his surroundings and circumstances. Winner of the past two NBA MVP awards and an All-Star each of the past six seasons, James is, quite simply, the best all-around player in the NBA. He joined the Heat after seven seasons in Cleveland, during which he averaged 29.1 points, 9.3 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while turning the Cavs into a perennial postseason threat.
He’s done it before
James has already proven he can, almost single-handedly, win games and turn around a franchise. In 2006-07, James led Cleveland to its first NBA Finals appearance in franchise history, one year after he led the Cavs to the postseason for the first time in seven years. After breaking into the playoffs in 2005-06, the Cavs were a major postseason player each of James’ final four seasons with the team.
James wants to win
James is an Ohio native, selected by Cleveland after his senior season at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School in Akron. He was the franchise savior, beloved son of the hometown fans. Point being, James had dozens of reasons to stay, but he only left for one reason – because he thought he’d have a better chance at winning an NBA title elsewhere. He wants to win, and is going to do whatever he can to bring a championship to Miami this season.
The Miami Heat are loaded
It all starts with James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. But don’t forget Udonis Haslem, James Jones, Carlos Arroyo, Eddie House and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. The Heat are deep and talented, but there’s no denying everything revolves around the Big Three. James, Wade and Bosh helped the United States win the gold medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and all three are capable of putting up huge numbers on any given night. They haven’t been as wildly successful early in 2010-11 as Heat fans – and they, themselves – had hoped, but it’s not as though Miami’s three stars are slouching. Through 18 games, James is averaging 23.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 7.7 assists; Wade has averages of 21.6 points, 6.1 rebounds and 4.2 assists; and Bosh has turned in 18.0 points and 7.3 rebounds per game. The trio will continue putting up stats and learning to play well together, and they’ll only get better as the season progresses.
The new-look Heat won just 10 of their first 18 games in the 2010-11 season, not exactly the early-season production the Heat and their fans were looking for from a team that some thought could break Chicago’s 1995-96 NBA single-season record of 72 wins and 10 losses. Team president Pat Riley is certainly more concerned with netting an NBA championship trophy than he is with setting regular-season records, but Riley won’t let this thing get out of hand before making a move. Whether that means canning coach Erik Spoelstra or making a trade to give James and the rest of the Big Three a better or different supporting cast, Riley and the Heat will oblige, if it becomes necessary. James, after all, is the brightest of Miami’s three-star rotation, and the team is going to do whatever it has to do to keep him happy.
LeBron James, Yahoo! Sports
LeBron James, Career Stats and Totals, NBA.com
2010-11 Heat Regular Statistics, Miami Heat, NBA.com