LeBron James is showing signs of wavering confidence, suggesting that he may choke again this year and miss his chance to earn his first NBA Championship ring.
"I don't need a fistful. But I need one. I need to get one first," he explained, perhaps too emphatically. "I have short goals -- to get better every day, to help my teammates every day -- but my only ultimate goal is to win an NBA championship. It's all that matters. I dream about it. I dream about it all the time, how it would look, how it would feel. It would be so amazing."
These are not the words of someone intent on winning who is en route to that victory. They are the words of an immature yearner setting himself up to fail. And to be crushed even more thoroughly this time around than he was last time, when he refused to leave his Coconut Grove house for two weeks after the Heat came up short against the Dallas Mavericks in the 2011 NBA Championship.
The newest developments in LeBron's Gollum-esque search for a ring find him in the mode of a striver but not a winner yet again. If his goal is to be the Ringo Starr of sports, he had better stop coming off more like Pete Best, almost making it to the big time but finding a way to be a footnote to history.
Rather than focusing on his game and readying for the difficult contests ahead that the Heat needed to win to get to the championship, the Miami Herald reports that James went on a speaking tour of sorts last summer in which he courted the opinions of past champs in an odd attempt to increase his ability to make a title run.
And on Wednesday, one of the all-time greats, the inimitable Reggie Miller, the living embodiment of the clutch player LeBron James will never be, took him to task for meeting with Hakeen Olajuwon, Magic Johnson and Isiah Thomas in the off-season rather than just putting rubber to hardwood and grinding it out.
"This is one of the most physically gifted guys in our league," Miller told TNT. "He left Cleveland, and he had every right to join one of the top five players in the league in Dwyane Wade along with Chris Bosh. Now he's reaching out to Hall of Famers to see what it takes to win? Enough is enough. Go out and actually do it on your own. What do you need more help for?"
And the past two years have proven that he's more beef than Kobe, more Uranus than Saturn. He's choked in consecutive post-seasons, and this year's All-Star Game was yet another example of the frog in his throat coming to bite him in the end. In the last second of that game, which on paper was yet another massive performance by the MVP candidate, he decided against shooting the game-winning three over Kobe Bryant, and instead passed, and consequently lost the game.
So it will remain to be seen just what LeBron James can do this year in the postseason. But don't hold your breath for a ring for LeBron, D Wayde and Chris Bosh. The trifecta needs its point to be sharp.