Three-time league MVP LeBron James is a Miami Heat win away from becoming… (Larry W. Smith / EPA )
LeBron James, NBA champ ... you might want to start getting used to hearing that phrase because it is a distinct possibility with the Miami Heat getting their first of three shots to close out the Oklahoma City Thunder and claim the championship on Thursday night.
So now that you see that phrase in writing, how does it make you feel? A year ago there probably would have been a lot of anger among passionate NBA fans -- even those outside of Cleveland -- in the aftermath of "The Decision," the over-the-top celebration with Miami fans before even playing a game with the team, James' bold prediction that the Heat would win at least eight championships ("not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven ...") and more.
And then there was his performance in the 2011 Finals against Dallas, when James seemingly disappeared in the fourth quarter of the games and the Mavericks went on to claim the title, four games to two.
But what about now? James won his third league MVP award -- and his first with the Heat -- during the regular season and seems to be taking a different approach in the postseason. As The Times' Ben Bolch reported Thursday, James has rekindled his love of basketball by doing a lot of reading during the postseason and building a relationship with two-time NBA champ Hakeem Olajuwon.
On the court, James is averaging 29.3 points in the Finals, compared to just 17.8 last year. In Game 4, he returned to the floor while suffering leg cramps in the fourth quarter to deliver the go-ahead three-pointer with 2 minutes, 51 seconds left.
So maybe it won't be so bad having the player widely considered to be the best in the game finally win an NBA title, if that's what ends up happening sometime in the next week. What do you think? Vote in the poll, then leave a comment explaining why you voted the way you did.