After capturing his first championship Thursday night, LeBron James no longer has the burden of being known as the ring-less King.
For the past five years, the pressure centered around him enough to the point where he cracked. It seemed as if he might become one of those Hall of Fame players without a championship. But the monkey is off his back. Now he has to focus on repeating like so many other basketball greats have.
With the King having a ring, analysts are trying to determine who should have that pressure next. As we all know, it don’t mean a thing without a ring.
I have a top five list of athletes in all of sports who I will be paying attention to closely come postseason time, starting with…
5.) Josh Hamilton
He is a 31-year-old hitting wonder who got a late jump in his career. However, he is a multiple time all-star with an AL MVP to his name. He has been to the World Series two consecutive years in a row. He is a lifetime .234 hitter in the postseason with a .184 BA in 12 World Series games. It would be imperative for him to avoid having his team be the Buffalo Bills of the MLB. Baseball is a team game, but that didn’t stop people from putting pressure on A-Rod. Hamilton is no different.
4.) Alexander Ovechkin
In regards to hockey, I’m about as incompetent as Charles Barkley trying to play golf. But one thing I am certain of, it is that Ovechkin is missing a Stanley Cup. He is a two-time MVP, four-time all-star, former Rookie of the Year, etc. He has won just about every award he can. In the postseason, though, he has struggled to get the Washington Capitals out of the semi-finals. The Caps haven’t even had an appearance in the Conference Finals during his era.
3.) Kyle Busch
Busch is the driver of the #18 Toyota Camry in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He was a phenom when he first started driving in the second-tier Nationwide series at 18 and he hasn’t disappointed. He has 51 Nationwide wins, 30 Camping World Truck wins, 24 Sprint Cup wins, but no championship in the top tier series. I have given him the nickname ‘the LeBron James of NASCAR’ for that reason. He is immensely talented. He can drive anything you give him. He needs to breakthrough now. Busch is in his eighth full season in Sprint Cup and has yet to finish higher than fifth in the standings.
2.) Dwight Howard
With LeBron getting his, he should have most of the pressure applied to him. When you are a three-time Defensive Player of the Year with All-NBA credentials at the Center position, it is blasphemous that Howard does not have a championship yet. All the great Centers have won not just one, but multiple championships. Why? Because so few teams have had the privilege to have dominant centers. Dominant big men are usually a necessary cornerstone piece to winning some. “Superman” has gotten to the finals once, but fell short in five games to the Los Angeles Lakers in 2009. He says he wants to go to Brooklyn and win titles there. If that’s the case, he, Karl Malone, and Charles Barkley will have plenty in common.
1.) Philip Rivers
He is apart of the 2004 Draft Class that featured Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Both have two Super Bowl rings to their already impressive resumes. Rivers has yet to appear in a Super Bowl. He has been considered an elite QB by some; his numbers speak for them selves. In the playoffs, his career record is 3-4 with a 58.5 completion percentage and 8 TDs to 9 Int. In 2006, the Chargers were 14-2 and lost in the divisional round to the New England Patriots. In fact, Rivers has made it past the divisional round just once in four postseason appearances. The Chargers have missed the playoffs the last two seasons. The time is now. All the elite QBs in the game today are Super Bowl Champions. As of now, Rivers is just known as a quarterback who is a stat suffer, nothing more.
Honorable Mentions: Dale Earnhardt Jr., Luke Donald (Majors, in his case), Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, Carl Edwards, and Justin Verlander.
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