Game 7 will determine LeBron James’ Legacy

Article written by Joel Norman.  You can find more of his work at

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LeBron James (23) finishes a slam dunk against the Golden State Warriors Thursday night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals. The Cleveland Cavaliers won 115-101, forcing a pivotal Game 7.   Photo via USA Today Sports

One game.

That’s all that separates LeBron James from immortality.

One game.

That’s all that separates LeBron James from uncertainty.

Make no mistake. Game Seven of the 2016 NBA Finals will determine James’s legacy as a professional basketball player.

James is playing in his seventh NBA Finals, but only has two victories to show for his efforts. Don’t read into that too much. The only series that James’s team should have won that they lost was when the Miami Heat fell to the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Finals.

This year, the excuse of lack of depth won’t work. Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are healthy (though to varying degrees of effectiveness).

The Cleveland Cavaliers have never been this close to winning an NBA Championship. In the 2007 Finals, they were swept. Last season, they only won two games.

In 2016, Cleveland can return to the top for the first time since 1964 when the Browns won the Super Bowl.

52 years of waiting…

There is a lot on James’s shoulder. It doesn’t matter than he is likely weary from a sixth straight appearance in the NBA Finals. He has to win because he is the Chosen One.

Born in Akron, Ohio, James knows about Northeast Ohio’s troubles. The Cavaliers must win a championship with James because of where he is from and because he is the greatest player to ever put a wine and gold jersey on.

Now is the time to return to glory. Now is the time to make or break a career. Now is the time to rid a city of half a century’s worth of pain.

It won’t be easy. It took back-to-back 41 point games just to stave off elimination. Surely, James will need to do even more to win his third ring.

The Golden State Warriors won’t bow down before The King. Stephen Curry scored 30 points in Game Six, but fouled out. Surely, he will be firing from all cylinders in Game Seven.

With back-to-back wins, the Cavaliers would seem to be the hot team and favorite to win Game Seven. However, the Warriors are used to adversity. They rallied back from a 3-1 deficit in the Western Conference Finals. Now, they just have to win a home game, something that they did 39 times in the regular season.

It doesn’t matter that James is going up against the greatest team in NBA history. It doesn’t matter that James is is going up against the greatest shooter of all time and the two-time reigning MVP, Curry.

All that matters is that a championship is within reach.

If James grabs it, he will become a legend. Statues will be throughout Cleveland, babies will enter the world named “LeBron,” and the struggles of the past will be forgotten.

If James can’t snatch it, he will be a choker. Columnists will bash him, fans will turn on him, and he’ll be more remembered for losing than winning.

It’s not fair to a player that has unfairly always been compared to Michael Jordan. However, this is what happens when you are the greatest player in a team’s history while still playing for them and the best player in the NBA.

What happens after Sunday night for the rest of James’s career doesn’t matter because the chapters will have already been written. The rest of his career will merely be an afterword.

What story will James write? An epic or a tragedy?


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