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Now comes the hard part for LeBron in Miami: winning

There should have been purple robes. He should have worn a crown. He should have been hauled on a royal carriage with four NBA general managers serving as litter bearers.

Someone should have sounded the trumpets. Someone should have peeled a grape. Someone should have called out for the jesters.

Just wondering here, but LeBron James is aware that "King James'' is just a nickname, isn't he?

Say this for James. After all the hype and all the headlines, he got his way. He picked his team. He picked his city. He picked his teammates. He decided that he liked Miami's gold more than New York's, more than Chicago's, more than Cleveland's. Instead of cavorting around the country, he stayed in his castle, and he made teams come to him with their promises. He got his own TV special. For crying out loud, the only king who ever has his way more than James is Burger King.

And now there is this.

He had better win. A lot.

There has never been pressure to match what will be placed upon James now, not on any free agent in any sport. He has to win, and he has to win big, and he has to win now. He has to win immediately, and he has to win convincingly, and he has to win repeatedly over the next few years.

From him, one title will not do. He has to win two, maybe three, for the production to match the pomp.

Yes, it is odd that a player who has never won a title suddenly finds himself in need of a dynasty. But the world view of LeBron James has changed now. That's what a Look-at-Me offseason will do. For weeks now James has played the pampered athlete trying to stack the deck.

Now that he has pulled it off in a reality show that felt something like watching the Kardashians at the Academy Awards, it is time for him to deliver. Either that, or the critics will pick at his legacy forever.

James left all his excuses in Cleveland. It doesn't matter if Miami's roster next season consists of James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and nine guys who don't know how long a 24-second clock lasts. No one is going to want to hear it. If there are injuries, no one is going to want to hear that, either. If it takes a while for the chemistry to work, no one is going have an ounce of sympathy.

It was one thing when James lost in Cleveland, where everyone seemed to be aware the Cavs' supporting cast wasn't good enough. But not now. Now all anyone wants to hear is what size ring James doesn't wear.

Look, this was never about the money. Everyone who had the cap space in the NBA could offer pretty much the same (except for Cleveland). As for endorsements, well, James can do as many as he wants no matter where he plays.

For James, this was supposed to be about winning. Or, to put it another way, this was a chance for James to get the help he needed to win. That wasn't going to happen in New York. Or in New Jersey. Chicago? I wonder if the Bulls, with Derrick Rose and Carlos Boozer, might have been a better fit.

The geography doesn't matter, either. Put it this way: If the Heat was to win 60 games, then lose in triple overtime of Game 7 of the Finals on a lucky shot by the opposition, the season would be remembered as a failure.

That's what happens when a player tries to stack the deck in his favor. The stakes are suddenly all or nothing. From now on, if James loses, fair or unfair, it's his fault.

Maybe that explains the staggering amount of attention James has received over the last few weeks. There has never been a free agent about which there were so many rumors about so many teams willing to spend so many dollars. There has never been a bigger free agent, not Shaquille O'Neal and not Alex Rodriguez.

There will be some backlash on James. Count on it. Not only was there this over-the-top TV production in which ESPN interviewer Jim Gray set a new record for beating around the bush.

And was it just me, or did Gray think he was the new host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He kept saving the big question for the end. Of course, James' decision would have been even more shocking if it hadn't been public knowledge for about 12 hours.

So why did James choose the Heat? One assumes it's because he is a little weary about hearing about all the titles he hasn't won. He might want to be the biggest star, but it seems he doesn't want to be the only one. Let's face it, stars think stars win games, and the stars in Miami are the brightest.

To the average fan, particularly those left behind in Cleveland — which has to feel a little like Pompeii today — this is a three-man effort only if it is successful. If it isn't, they won't blame Wade, and they won't blame Bosh. They'll blame James.

Can the Heat win? Sure. The question is, can it win enough? The Heat might have the most impressive three-on-three team ever assembled, but who is going to play the point? Where is the center? There has never been a great team without role players. I'm not sure the Heat has enough.

What it has is celebrity. What it has is star power. What it has is the biggest buzz the NBA has had in years.

Miami has always been a town that loves its stars, and as of now, the Heat owns Miami. It's going to be interesting. It's going to be fun.

But is it going to be good enough for a title or two?

We'll see.

Now comes the hard part for LeBron in Miami: winning 07/08/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 9, 2010 7:18am]
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