With his Miami Heat wrapping up a second straight championship, LeBron James is well on his way to becoming one of the most decorated players in NBA history. Even before the current title run, James already had 4 MVPs, one championship, and one Finals MVP to his name.
"This is what it's all about," James said after Game 7. "I came here [to Miami] to win championships and to be able to go back to back, two championships in three years, so far, it's the ultimate."
Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (6), Bill Russell, and Michael Jordan (5 each) have won more MVPs, and James is one of 10 two-time Finals MVPs (only four players have won three or more: Jordan, Tim Duncan, Magic Johnson, and Shaquille O'Neal).
Even James cannot believe his own good fortune.
"First of all, I'm blessed, man. I don't even know how I got here," James said earlier this week. "I wasn't supposed to be in the NBA, if you go by statistics and things of me growing up where I grew up. Every time I go into my locker room and see the 'James' on the back of an NBA jersey, I'm like, 'Wow.' No criticism can deter me from playing this game because of that. I'm not supposed to be here."
Add his two Olympic gold medals, 2004 Rookie of the Year Award, 7 first-team All-NBA selections, and 5 first-team NBA All-Defensive team selections, and it is becoming more and more difficult to poke holes in his resume.
When James entered the NBA as an 18-year-old rookie a decade ago, he was trumpeted as the latest in a line of next Michael Jordans. His failure to win a championship in his first eight seasons led knee-jerk NBA historians to call him "LeFraud," but now that he has two rings to his name, Jordan's modern NBA record of six championships and Finals MVPs all of a sudden seems in reach.
Consider the fact that James is 28, and Jordan did not win his first title until he was 27 (the same age LeBron was during the Heat's 2012 title run), and it is conceivable that his hardware collection could even surpass Jordan's.
James has learned that living in the moment, and letting history sort itself out, is the best way to pursue a legacy, both for himself and his Heat teammates.
"We can't worry about what the history books say. That's why it's history," James said before Thursday's Game 7. "We have to live in the present. We have to live in the moment. And we have to do whatever it takes to bring that trophy — or to keep that trophy — here in Miami."
James' story is far from over. He may not even spend the rest of his career in Miami - he, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh can all opt out of their contracts next summer (two years early) if they want to.
But for now, James is on top of the world, and it seems like that "Next Jordan" pronouncement was partially correct, but missed the point. He might not match Jordan's perfect Finals record (6 appearances, 6 championships, 6 Finals MVPs), but being the next Jordan was never really the point.
As James himself tweeted earlier this year: "I'm not MJ, I'm LJ."