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Updated Jun 22, 2012 - 1:18 pm

The Return of the King

Miami Heat small forward LeBron James holds the most valuable player award after Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Friday, June 22, 2012, in Miami. The Heat won 121-106 to become the 2012 NBA Champions.(AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

LeBron James finally got his ring. King James finally got his crown. But the return of the king may not be a guarantee. LeBron must show that he can rule his kingdom with a strong and steady hand. The gold and precious metals he hoisted high after winning an NBA Championship may herald a new dynasty, indeed, but every great kingdom must stand the test of time.

"All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost; the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, the crownless again shall be king."

J.R.R Tolkien, littérateur extraordinaire, penned that when he wrote the epic fantasy Lord of the Rings. After watching LeBron James win his first NBA championship I couldn't help but think of Tolkien.

I was truly happy to see LeBron laugh at himself while holding the Larry O'Brien Championship Trophy, staring at his reflection with great relief and unbridled joy. He is not the monster people have made him out to be; he never was. King James deserved this trophy more than most. His performance in the 2012 NBA Finals was the stuff of legend and winning the Bill Russell MVP Award was the definition of anticlimactic. King James' coronation is now complete but I wonder how long his kingdom will last?

All that is gold does not glitter…

I wonder what kind of impact winning a title might have on LeBron? Will this personality transformation he went through this postseason inspire him to win five, six, seven or more championships, or will it land him in the fat and happy land of complacency? Will his gold reflection of the championship trophy suck the intensity from the lungs of King James, or was that simply a post- championship exhale we witnessed?

not all those who wander are lost;

LeBron James has shut the mouths of all his critics. The beat-down of his haters couldn't be more obvious if he flogged them publicly with his scepter. He has finally taken what was rightfully his; the burden he has carried since he went into exile in South Beach has been laid to rest. After wandering away from Cleveland, he appeared lost in last year's NBA Finals, deposed as king and declared an imposter. But he was never lost.

The old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.

After five games of basketball in these Finals it was clear LeBron James and the talents he possessed in Cleveland and the strength and the athleticism and the overt skill that made him the best player on the planet had not been diminished by the haters that wished to freeze him out of winning a championship and stop his victorious march.

Even I thought Kevin Durant had supplanted LeBron as the best player our species could generate. Durant was dominant in his own right and played well in these Finals and certainly might be flashing the hardware in the future. But after watching LeBron control the entire series and destroy a team whose playoff march included the abolition of the NBA's past three champions, there can be no doubt that James is the best player in the world.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from the shadows shall spring;

Last year's futile attempt at a crown against the Dallas Mavericks squarely put LeBron James in the crucible of doubt. And this year's postseason procession wasn't very impressive, either. Sure, LeBron played well but he was not chasing away the haunts and haters with his tepid play while closing out games. The Miami Heat looked doomed to relive the same fate that awaited them in Dallas.

Something happened to LeBron James between games 5 and 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals and it's as undeniable as the light reflecting from his Bill Russell MVP Trophy: he got mad and tapped into the rage tree. Suddenly, LeBron James was not the same player he was a year ago; he was not the same player he was a month ago; he was not the same player he was in game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

What happened?

renewed shall be blade that was broken…

Dwyane Wade handed LeBron James the hilt of the broken sword of leadership and everything changed. LeBron James got the blessing of D-Wade to take what was rightfully his and make the Miami Heat his team. LeBron James became the undisputed leader of his team and bore that responsibility with a painted face and a dark heart.

The Miami Heat became a true team between game 5 and 6 of those conference finals, not just a collection of three extremely talented individuals. Order, structure and law gave its subjects the confidence to know what their roles were and how they could help crown a king and, in so doing, win a ring.

the crownless again shall be king.

LeBron James is the undisputed best basketball player in the world. Of that, there can be no doubt. My recantation now complete, I feel washed, cleansed in the waters of clarity and certitude.

Still, the shadow of the Oklahoma City Thunder creeps across my mind as I consider the future and I think of the Kingdom of Complacency and the glittering reflection of all that gold and how King James might rule?


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