LeBron Can Cap Best Year With Gold

LONDON – He didn’t have to be here.

He could have spent this summer lying on a beach somewhere as far removed from the game of basketball as humanly possible. He could have avoided the crush of being one of the four or five most recognizable people — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, British gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Kobe Bryant and royals Kate Middleton and Prince William — in this city right now.

No one would have blamed LeBron James for finally taking a little time away from his life’s passion. After a decade of chasing a legacy, and a championship, he finally secured his title, leading the Miami Heat past Oklahoma City in The Finals. James won his third NBA regular season MVP award and snagged a Finals MVP to add to his treasure chest.

With a chance to add a gold medal to his 2012 haul Sunday in the Olympic final against Spain, James is attempting to add an extra layer on top of a cake already drowning in icing. Only Michael Jordan has had a comparable season, piling up all of the aforementioned honors, and that came 20 years ago when he led the Chicago Bulls to the second of what would be six NBA titles and then spent his summer dazzling the world while leading the original Dream Team to gold in the Barcelona Olympics.

Even on a team filled with superstars, James is the headliner and biggest star, playing in a comfort zone and an elite level no one else in this competition or beyond can match.

And now he’s got a chance to cap his best year with gold in a rematch of the 2008 gold meal game in Beijing won by the U.S. Team.

“I don’t think you could have written this script any better for him,” said U.S. forward Kevin Durant, dazzling in his own right throughout this competition, and James’ chief rival with the Thunder during the NBA season. “I’m sure that would be fine for him, the way this has all played out so far. You can’t beat that right there.”

In just two short years, James has gone from the daunting task of trying to live up to expectations few athletes of any generation have ever had to literally winning it all.

Having his best year after his toughest year has to make this current run even for James.

“I would have hoped that this would be it,” James said of the moment, the year, when it all came together. “I would be able to compete for a championship, and win a championship in the NBA. And also be a part of this team and compete for a gold medal. If I would have had to map it out it would have been like this … it’s going in the right direction.”

James left Cleveland for the Heat two summers ago and fell in The Finals in his first season on South Beach and sulked in the days after losing to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

When he did emerge from his funk, he spent time working out with another young star hunting for the same things. The workout session he and Durant dubbed “Hell Week.” It was then that Durant noticed the resolve that James leaned on to carry him through to a new, career-defining year.

“LeBron is a strong-minded guy. You look at his face you couldn’t even tell what he had been through,” Durant said. “They lost in The Finals, but he still had an unbelievable season. I guess people just expected them to win because he went to Miami and all that, but I can tell you first hand that just because you get that opportunity to fight for a championship it doesn’t mean you’re going to win it. And that’s humbling thing to go through. But he went right back to work on his game, worked his tail off and you seriously couldn’t tell if what people were saying about him affected him. He was locked in like that.”

Locked in all the way through a man-among-boys performance in The Finals. But he didn’t stop there. He didn’t even have two full weeks off after The Finals before he was heading to Las Vegas for USA Basketball’s training camp for the Olympics, where he and Carmelo Anthony would become just the third players in the history of the national program to play on three different Olympic teams, joining original Dream Team member David Robinson on that short list.

James could easily have opted out, the grind of a championship season wears on the best of the best. Several of his teammates from the 2008 had to due to injuries, and that includes his Heat teammates Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

But James knew he had unfinished business to tend to. There was another gold medal to win. And he’s led the U.S. from the start, dominating the action without having to score points to do it, a testament to his versatility and otherworldly skill and determination.

U.S. coach Mike Krzyzewski has used the word “magnificent” to describe James on a daily basis, which, as crazy as it sounds, is a bit of an understatement. James has never looked as sure of himself, on both ends of the floor, as he has in the seven games he’s already played in this competition.

“He’s as big as our centers and power forwards and passes like a point guard,” Argentina and Spurs swingman Manu Ginobili said after the U.S. whipped them twice in five days, the final game of pool play and Friday night’s semifinal. “I don’t know if anyone is unstoppable, but LeBron is about as close as you can get.”

And insists he won’t leave London with anything other than another gold medal.

“That’s why I’m here,” he said before a practice last week. “I’m here because I love to play the game of basketball and I love what this team is all about and I’m trying to represent this country at the highest level. It would be great [to finish this off with another gold medal]. It’s the only reason I’m here. I am not here to win anything but gold and that’s our goal.”

There is a loaded Spanish team standing in their way, a group headlined by James’ NBA rivals Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka and Jose Calderon. They don’t fear the U.S. at all and played them close until the final minutes in Beijing.

“It’s new teams, different times,” Marc Gasol said. ‘Four years is a long time. Obviously, LeBron and Durant and those guys are better now than they were four years ago and so are we. So we’re going in with a lot of confidence as well.”

They won’t come into the game with any more energy or more confidence than James, who dismissed the notion that Spain somehow has an advantage in  Sunday’s final after facing the U.S. so often on the big stage.

“They don’t have our number. They haven’t beat us,” he said. “The danger in playing any team is of you don’t come out and respect the game of basketball and you don’t come out and play hard and respect your opponent, you can get beat. But they don’t have our number.”

They also won’t have the luxury of facing a mentally or physically drained (from the whirlwind of the past two years) James. Competitions like these help recharge his battery.

“I just love the game of basketball,” he said. “I find a way to locate the energy to keep going. I love to compete. I love to win.”

In the past three months, no one has done it better.

41 Comments

  1. olive17 says:

    agree with b-rad.
    just to put things in context i’m english and i live eat and drink bball, but to the vast majority of the rest of the people of london and britain lebron and kobe are about as recognisable as a khazakstan weightlifter.
    to compare them to the royals is insane sekou. standard US-centricism
    just to make you understand how little we have to work with in GB! so beting china was huge for us
    big up joel freeland in portland next year

  2. b-rad says:

    If anyone thinks Kobe Bryant or Jessica Ennis is more recognizable internationally than Roger Federer they are terribly misinformed. He’s one of the greatest champions in the history of all sport and plays what in the rest of the world is the second most popular sport next to soccer. Typical American ‘Big 4′ sporting journalism. He’s the Bill Russell, Michael Jordan and Lebron James of tennis, combined.

    Just take a gander at this list and try to keep your jaw from dropping, then of course realize he’s still number one in the world, just won Wimbledon, a silver at the Olympic games and is healthier than his only competition, the 1/2 decade younger Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_career_achievements_by_Roger_Federer

  3. shelia says:

    I AM SO GLAD THAT LEBRON HAS MADE HISTORY THIS Past YEAR,NOW HE’S IN THE 2 MAN CLUB WITH THE
    GREAT MICHEAL JORDAN, CONGRATS LEBRON, I’LL BE ROOTING FOR YOU AND THE MIAMI HEAT, I’M TRULY
    A FAN. REALALISTLY, PAT RILEY HAS TO MKE SOME MOVES, SO MIAMI AND FAIRLY COMPETE WITH THE
    LAKERS AT ANY LEVEL, BUT IF THE HEAT CAN AQURE A CENTER, I TRULY BELEIVE THAT THE MIAMI HEAT
    WILL BE ABLE TO BANG WITH THE LAKERS, WITH NO PROBLEM, THE HEAT HAS VERSATALITY AND
    ATHELISM, AND NOT TO MENTION WADE WILL COME BACK HEALTHLY AND WE WILL SEE FLASH AGAIN.
    AND WE ALL KNOW LEBRON IS ON A MISSION,WOULD”NT BE SURPRISE IF HE GETS HIS 4TH MVP THIS YEAR
    SURE LOOKING LIKE SO,ACTUALLY I WOULD LOVE D-WADE TO GET IT.ANYWAY, PAT RILEY GET CRACKIN ON A DECENT CENTER, SO THE HEAT CAN REPEAT

  4. jaxwel13 says:

    LBJ was lost the MVP award to D.Rose of 2011 but the coaches said they are tired of how beast is LBJ so they look for different one…see LBJ was unique player among hall of famer ok Jordan is only one but LBJ is different one and he deserve all glory he had this year a hardworking and talented human congrats US and rest of the Dream Team 2012!

  5. oop says:

    yo who is the best player in the world, can some one tell me piz.

  6. Agudo says:

    Apparently people like to through rocks at things that shine…

  7. Ggg says:

    Best player in the world

  8. oop says:

    lebron james allthe wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy

  9. Rosillo says:

    What a damn is the end…until now USA has played a huge basketball…but the finals there is to win them

    Greetings from S-pain to lose

  10. pipo says:

    usa basketball the greatest player of the universe!!!

  11. Kirk says:

    Yahh jjjcob its correct it seems that sekou is the father of Lebron

  12. ism says:

    “…one of the four or five most recognizable people — Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt, British gold medal-winning heptathlete Jessica Ennis, Kobe Bryant and royals Kate Middleton and Prince William — in this city right now.”

    Erm, George Michael???

    :>

  13. Be sure you will suffer against spaniards.
    A spaniard

  14. ricardo says:

    usa will loss tonight

  15. Keyserzose says:

    Just let me put it straight: the Beijing gold medal game ended when USA team was able to play with their own rules. I’ve watched the game again yesterday and there are some travelling and defensive fouls not called, just because the referees where too conscious of what was at stake. I am not saying that Spain would’ve won the game, I am just saying that it would’ve been even closer than it was. USA deserved that gold but didn’t need the help the referees granted them and if you watch the game again you’ll admit that those calls where wrong, it’s a good exercise and I strongly recommend you to do it.
    About today’s game, the USAB is playing better than any other national team since 1992 but to have all your hopes on the perimeter can lead you to a close game if your shooters are cold. In addition, they still struggle in front pick and rolls (that’s how Greece kicked them out in 2006) but unlike what is being said lately, I don’t think they have problems inside as long as LBJ, Durant, Love and Chandler can hold themselves against the Gasols and Ibaka.
    Spain needs a better display than four years ago and, big surprise, rely on Pau, Marc and Rudy. The bench is not as good as the american and some players are there for residual minutes like Claver, Sada and Reyes, so the main threat from there is Llull and Sergio Rodriguez. Ibaka hasn’t seen too much minutes so far but I think he’ll be useful at the defensive end. Nonetheless I want to call your attention on Navarro: maybe the best spanish guard of all time. He has an athletic deficiency and has been suffering from a plantar fascitis but he is always there in the big games and we’ll be a huge challenge for USAB defenders.
    I just can hope for a clean and fast game, (again USAB doesn’t need that kind of help) that we all can enjoy.

  16. kirk says:

    go USA get that Gold medal…

  17. I HATE LEBRON JAMES says:

    LeBron this, LeBron that… Always LeBron and team USA! Why? Why not Kevin Durant and team USA. I hate this website because everywhere you look it is Lebron this, LeBron that. He is just part of team USA. If this continues I will stop visiting this website. This should be lebronjames.com and not nba.com.

    • grtdame says:

      Dude, you think we really care if you stop visiting this site? You tired ot the King because you can’t handle the truth….LOL.
      LBJ is the King. I give you that Durant is a scorer, but that is all he has in his arsenal. Durant is seven feet tall and still can’t decently defend another seven footer and is no threat to take somone to the hole unless he has a wide open layup or slam. In the gold medal game against Spain, Durant was unable to guard the seven footers. Lebron was guarding Marc Gasol…….LOL…Durant needs to improve his one dimensional game or he will always be playing in the King’s Court…..LOLOLOL.

      • non bandwagoner says:

        please refrain from putting paul pierce’s nickname in a lebron james rant. it’s disrespectful to paul.

    • goheat says:

      To I hate lebron james YOUR JEOLOUS admit it kevin durant is great but lebron is on the next level bro

    • LBJ#1 says:

      Bro are you serious… Don’t hate.. it’s such a harsh word.. you can dislike an individuals.. the word hate brings out ignorance in people.. Don’t be a hater.. Imagine somebody hating someone you like because they are amazing at what the do.. Lebron is simply amazing, he is best at what he does.. so if you hate because of that.. You need really need help….

  18. LakersFan907Alaska says:

    The USA team will obviously beat Spain for the Gold. But in the NBA playoffs this year, the Lakers will be unstoppable, and Kobe Bryant will get his 6th championship, I can feel his hunger for another NBA championship. Go Kobe! Now his team has superstars to help him win the title! The Finals olympic will be fun to watch, but the NBA finals will be more fun to watch.

    • goheat says:

      keep on dreaming RAY ALLEN will hit every open three when u double one of the big 3 if u dont u will get dunked on u had ur time now its our time u guys will be able to understand what we went through in ’11 however u wont be able to get redemtion cuz the heat wont lose anytime soon the dwightmares will only continue congrats to to the usa gold medalists especially kobe cuz its the last trophy hes going to get

  19. The only worthy opponent for USA is Spain… Lookin 4 ward 2 a gud game

  20. Gwoei says:

    forgot to mention, Lebron is the first to get a triple double?

  21. Joseph_03 says:

    This is the year of Lebron, NBA title, finals MVP, regular season MVP, and then Olympic gold.

  22. SUBASH says:

    guys good luck to everyone king lbj.kobi ,mello durant ,crish will,iqud .kevin brook ,davis baby boy eating a gold tomorrow and cotch key ,c ya after winning dont worry about slow team apain ….

  23. LordP says:

    This could be the year of his entire life as a pro-athlete..James is simply Basketball..as a Heat and basketball fan we’re such lucky to see him perform at the highest level everytime he steps on the floor!!

  24. Kris Wayne says:

    the first vid says it all! LBJ FTW!

  25. jjjcob says:

    haha why don’t sekou just copy and paste “Lebron is the best” 1000 times and post it on nba every hour?

    yeah, i know lebron’s good and i like him. but sekou, damn. hahaha!

    jeez.

  26. Shaquille O'neal says:

    this gone be a tough match to the U.S team but i’m pretty sure they will claim the gold…..

  27. Actually, this USA team has the speed and intelligence in the floor and really runs well in transition.. outside shooting will be the factor in obtaining gold when they play spain. Expect a tight gme for two – three quarters but when the dust disappears, USA gets the gold…. The spaniards can’t guard LBJ in transiion, CP3 will be great headache in terms of manipulating the game tonight and KB24 will play inspired basketball in terms of one on one plays, KD will again shoot the lights out in this championship game ….

  28. Victor galvan says:

    Go laborn James and team USA and bring gold home

  29. Adam says:

    of course USA is gonna win they got all the good people sorry spain but you have no luck ..

  30. DALGART says:

    LeBron is truly a Huge diffrerence-maker for USA Basketball Team. His winning attitude shows through, like
    with THE HEAT, No Nonsense approach with his “Demeanor” and mindset, is contageous for the rest of the Team.
    This Team is a Determent group, and will not stop until they win the Gold Medal, that they all worked so hard to achieve.
    They have Great Coaches and it shows with their unselfisness as a team. Other Team plays like a All-Star Team,
    yet we play like the game should be played as a National Team with pride. Go Team USA!!!!

  31. LEBRON JAMES says:

    USA GONNA BEAT SPAIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  32. hit3slikedirk says:

    ayo imma let you finish lbj, but on the real just slamdunk on err1 and call it a repeat, its wats bouts to be happening. smart moove getting ray ray, he gonna bust into everyone’s houses and help himself to their captain crunch, cuz aint no team in the league that will be able to stop you and dwade penetrating, bosh doing whatever he does and ray allen running around like a rabbit on crack through them screeens.

    • TRUEheatfan says:

      XD this comment was HILARIOUS! Made my day

      • Peter says:

        I actually have to second that lol, i agree though, Its time to “RE-HEAT” this championship this year, LA-LA land can do whatever they want, it Miami will be beasting this season for sure!