MIAMI, FL - JUNE 21: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat drives for a shot attemptm in the second half against Derek Fisher #37 of the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game Five of the 2012 NBA Finals on June 21, 2012 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
The NBA Finals and the evolution of LeBron James.
The Chosen One. That's what LeBron James has been called since his high school days. When he first came out of high school and was drafted by his home state Cleveland Cavaliers, I can still remember watching his debut game in the NBA at age 18. I was instantly captivated by his skill set and intriguing athleticism.
So many lofty expectations were thrown onto this 18-year-old basketball player, that it just seemed absurd that he could ever live up to the hype. But after tonight, it seems as if LeBron is only at the bottom rung of what he can accomplish in the future.
LeBron impacted every facet of Game 5. Not only did James have a triple-double with 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds, as he so often does, he utilized his size and penetrated into the paint to collapse the OKC defense. Once the defense drew in on him, he found the passing lane to give Miami's shooters open looks.
It seems like in every series, an unheralded role player can tip the scale in a team's favor. Besides the dominance of LeBron, it was the Heat's role players that really made the difference in the 2012 NBA Finals.
Shane Battier was the breakout role player in Game 2 with 17 points. Game 4 saw Mario Chalmers score an unpredictable 25 points. In the clinching Game 5, basketball fans witnessed a shooting clinic from Mike Miller who delivered 23 points on 7 of 8 shooting from behind the arc.
Ever since Michael Jordan stopped lacing them up, the basketball world has always been clamoring and searching for "The Next Michael Jordan". I'm not sure if there will ever be another Michael Jordan, maybe Kobe is currently closest to finding that Holy Grail, but LeBron leapt up to a certain higher stratosphere tonight.
It seemed as if every Heat bucket came as a direct result of LeBron's scoring, his passing, his effort, or the attention he commands from the defense.
LeBron James asserted himself and showed the composure and drive that is worthy of winning a champion. The Finals MVP displayed his effervescent abilities not only by scoring, but by dismantling the Thunder defense by moving the ball to open teammates. LeBron racked up the assists with the electric shooting of Miller.
LeBron has been portrayed in such an unfair light by the media and it seems like he has handled the spotlight admirably. Despite all the grilling he received for "The Decision" and the premature strobe-light celebration with the uniting of "The Big Three", LeBron has never fired back at the media or had an "I told you so" moment towards the public.
He just seems like a normal guy who thoroughly enjoys playing the game of basketball. I know the NBA season just ended, but I'm already looking forward to seeing more of LeBron James' bright future.