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The NBA playoffs are exciting, but it's still all about LeBron

Jaime C. Harris | 4/12/2011, 5:29 p.m.

The current NBA playoffs, and the impending summer free-agent sweepstakes, is all about LeBron James.Years after being dubbed the "Chosen One," James has remarkably exceeded all expectations on the court. Off the court, his polished and magnetic persona, along with mighty marketing machines, have shaped him into the sport's premiere figure. It is easy to forget that James is still only 25-years-old.But what will ultimately raise him to the exalted house where legends such as Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan reside, and a place where James's contemporaries Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan will be welcomed upon their retirement, is titles. Not just one, but multiple championships.Tonight (Thursday), James and the Cleveland Cavaliers will be on the road to meet the Chicago Bulls in Game 3 of the best-of-seven opening round Eastern Conference playoff series. Cleveland is up 2-0 and will likely finish off the Bulls in five games or less.Right now, the Bulls are merely a nuisance to James, a minor obstacle in his grand plan. His singular purpose is to not just get to the finals, but to win it. "It's all or nothing for us," he maintained after dropping 40 points in the Cavaliers' 112-102 Game 2 victory.The only credible threat to the Cavaliers coming out of the east is the Orlando Magic, who are facing the Charlotte Bobcats in their opening series. While the Atlanta Hawks, engaged with the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, are a talented team, they do not have the interior presence on the offensive end to create consistent points in the paint and the necessary double teams to produce good looks on the perimeter versus the superior defenses of the Cavs and the Magic.The Boston Celtics, locked up in a tough series with Dwayne Wade and the Miami Heat, are far beyond their championship prime.The NBA power brokers and their corporate sponsors strongly desire a finals matchup between the Cavaliers and Los Angeles Lakers. James also craves the opportunity to dethrone Bryant and the reigning champion.It would cement him as indisputably the best player in the world. But before that happens, both the Cavs and the Lakers, who are encountering the young and spirited Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference, have long and grinding roads ahead.