As the Celtics move through this series with the Heat, one has to stop and consider the frequency that this team has been pitted against LeBron James. It seems like a lot. While thinking of the series that we have faced James one also has to wonder: will LeBron James vs. the Celtics be a major chapter in the history of the NBA?
There have been other players who were great and were ultimately tied to their foe. Larry Bird and the Lakers, Magic Johnson and the Celtics, Dominique Wilkins and the Celtics, Patrick Ewing and the Bulls, the list could go on. Let’s take a look at LeBron Raymone James’ career to this point and see how the Big Green Demon has haunted the King without a Ring.In LeBron James first two years in the league the Cavaliers failed to make the playoffs. LeBron was learning the league and learning that the jump from high school to the NBA is not smooth.
2005-06 LeBron’s Cavs make the playoffs but lose to the Detroit Pistons. Everyone chalks this up to being LeBron’s "playoff learning experience." More is expected from James here on out.
2006-07 King James has arrived. The Cavaliers get to the NBA Finals before being swept out by a much better Spurs team. LeBron averages 22 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. It looks like it will just be a matter of time before King James has a fist full of rings. The NBA is abuzz with LeBron and the marketing machine starts itself rolling. Next year will be the year the NBA has its successor to Jordan. David Stern’s giant ears are giddy with anticipation. And then…
2007-08 Danny Drops a bomb on the NBA and a new era in Celtics history begins. The Big 3 own the league, ripping through the regular season. LeBron’s Cleveland squad falls to Boston in the playoffs in seven games. James scores 45 in the decisive game but Paul Pierce goes blow for blow with the King and puts up 41 of his own. Cleveland is left blindsided. A city that was ready to "witness" the second coming of NBA divinity has just witnessed an insurrection. This is the beginning of Bron’s Battle with Beantown. Celtics win the NBA Finals and raise banner 17.
2008-09 LeBron and the Celtics would not meet in the playoffs. Kevin Garnett’s injury would prove to be too much for the Celtics to overcome, and they would ultimately lose to the Orlando Magic who would go on to prevent Cleveland from reaching the NBA Finals for a second straight year. It now becomes obvious that LeBron cannot reach the "Promised Land" on his own and the rumblings of doubt begin to filter in.
2009-10 Shaq and Antawn Jamison join the Cavs to "Win a Ring for the King." Cleveland finishes with the best record in the regular season and LeBron wins the MVP award. Cleveland wins in the first round, defeating the Chicago Bulls, but are beaten in the second round by Boston in six games. LeBron faces an endless string of media criticism, while Boston makes the Finals for the second time in three years.
2010-11 the pressure is too much for LeBron James and he decides to take his talents (and baggage) to South Beach to join what he believes is an unbeatable Miami team. LeBron now plays the role of NBA villain and it becomes obvious that the Celtics were the catalyst for LeBron’s relocation. Many times in the regular season James alludes to Boston as being his own personal monster and confirms it after a second round victory against the Celtics in the playoffs. James celebrates like a man who has just won the Finals, opening his mouth so wide that my wife is prompted to forever refer to James as "Cookie Monster." James feels as though he has exercised his demons and cries on the court. It would seem that LeBron exhausted all his emotional effort in the Celtics series, as the Heat would go on to make the NBA Finals, but lose to the Dallas Mavericks. The prevailing story line of the Finals becomes LeBron’s disappearing act, and many wonder if he lost passion after winning the Boston series.
This brings us to our current series. Once again LeBron James finds himself in a battle against a team that has haunted him, a team that he had thought was finished haunting him. If Boston wins this series it will be in vengeance of last year and it will make 3 Finals, and 1 ring (possibly 2) for the Celtics during the time LeBron has been in the league. Leaving him with only one finals appearance in his career and making the Celtics his largest roadblock. Doubts about LeBron and his team would spring up like they did in the final Cleveland years, and major pieces might even be moved in Miami. The nightmare that LeBron might be left to face is this…
The Big three may be close to the end, but Rajon Rondo is just getting started. With consistent star-like performances, Random Rondo has transformed into Rondo-matic before LeBron’s eyes. If Danny can find a way to successfully build a Rondo-centric team, James may be facing this nightmare for years to come.
Obviously anything can happen in this current series and LeBron may again exercise his Big Green Demon, but the doubt is certainly there for now and possibly the future. It’s hard to think that LeBron might never win a ring, but the doubt has to be creeping in on him, and it is completely possible that we one day look back at LeBron’s career as a King without a ring, lost forever in a sea of green.