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  • The prophecy has been fulfilled and the Chosen One has finally realized his destiny. LeBron James is now an NBA champion.

    When he graced Sports Illustrated at the of 17, the magazine boldly anointed him under the headline “The Chosen One” and many thought the athlete with superior basketball skills for his age would be the second coming of his Airness Michael Jordan. After nine years, and two failed attempts at claiming the throne, the most polarizing figure in sports –with the “Chosen One” written across his back– finally lived up to the hype and now has the Larry O’Brien trophy to validate the royal proclamation.

    Somewhere along the way, expectations got the better of James. Drafted number one overall in 2003 NBA Draft out of high school, the virtuoso led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the playoffs five times in his seven year tenure with the organization, leading his hometown team to the Finals in 2007. There was no denying James’ talent, as he became only the tenth player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards, but his will to win often came under fire. After seven disappointing seasons in Ohio, James was fed up with being a spectator in June and made the decision to take his talents to South Beach to join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as a member of the Miami Heat. The power play came under intense scrutiny, as the “Chosen One” was vilified and disparaged for what many believed as James’ easiest route to a title.

    With critics throwing stones at the would be King, James returned to the Finals last June with the Heat, only to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in six games. It was LeBron’s greatest disappointment as his tentative performance in the series led many to question not only if James was “The One,” but if he was even a winner. His shortcomings last season only fueled the fire, but failure was the greatest thing to ever happen to LeBron’s career. Not only did it change the prism of how the world viewed James, but also it forced LeBron to look at the man in the mirror, humble himself, and ultimately to change his ways.

    The past two months haven’t been a coronation for James, as much as they’ve been an acquittal. LeBron’s 26 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists performance led the Heat in a 121-106 rout of Kevin Durant –James’ heir– and the Oklahoma City Thunder to claim the 2012 NBA championship on last night. His first triple-double of 2012 not only put the exclamation point on the title, but also exonerated him of the burden he’s carried since departing from Cleveland. The league’s three-time regular-season MVP was finally free of criticism and examination. And what makes the moment special is LeBron did it his way– on his own terms. The greatest NBA player without a ring, who suffered nearly a decade of intense criticism and doubt, learned to play the game the right way –in the post– and will finally be rewarded not crucified.

    “It’s about damn time,” James said after accepting the Bill Russell NBA Finals Most Valuable Player award. “This is a dream come true.”

    Indeed it is and LeBron put up the numbers to make his dream come to fruition. James turned in one of the greatest individual postseason runs in NBA history. He averaged 30 points and 10 rebounds during the playoffs, led rallies from deficits in three consecutive series, delivered one of the most dominating performances of the modern era netting 45 points, 15 rebounds and five assists to stave off elimination on the road in Game 6 against Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals, set a record for the number of playoff games with at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists, and became the fifth player ever to have multiple Finals triple-doubles. Isn’t that regal?

    NIGHTLIGHTS: Life+Times
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