The day after winning his first ever championship in 2012, Lebron James was seen sitting in the terrace of the Ritz hotel with a shirt that says “Earned not given”.
It has been 4 years since Lebron won his first championship and 6 consecutive NBA finals appearance, This NBA finals he is facing again a familiar foe. A familiar pain that has been resurrecting every time he faces them. The Golden State Warriors are in for another historic back to back championship. They have captured the 73-9 record and a remarkable comeback after being down 3 games to one by the Oklahoma City Thunders in the Western Finals. Truth be told, Lebron and the title-starved city of Cleveland cannot be denied of a championship this time. A well-rested and serviceable team that cruised their way to the playoffs on a 12-2 record. They have a healthy Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, and they have acquired veterans and shooters in Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. Lebron is facing the Warriors this time with big reinforcements.
After OKC exposed the Warriors vulnerability, with Stephen Curry nursing an ailing knee, this is the time to attack the wounded lion. After Lebron’s hiatus from Cleveland, this would serve as a reset button and would go back to the time when he was trying to win a championship. The time when he was a king without a throne. When winning a championship is more like a burden rather than an achievement. There is no other star in the NBA that has been scrutinized and have been living under a fish bowl since he was 16 years old. After winning 2 titles in Miami, Lebron has rid the Monkey on his back. But this time he is putting it back in. 52 years the city of Cleveland have waited, and Lebron is trying to make everything right again.
On Game 4 of the 2012 NBA championship. James spent 70 seconds on the bench in pain with his cramped up legs. He went back after the score was tied at 94 all. He scored a three point shot and hobbled down court. And less than two minutes he was taken out. That’s how bad he wants the championship. And that is how bad he wants this championship now.
A wounded lion still wants to roar. But nobody is taking the defending champions lightly.
Earned not given… The NBA’s King and his Cavaliers have four games to prove it.