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You have to admit, we’re tough on our sports figures. We harp on them until they win a championship. Then we say they’re not legendary until they’ve won multiple titles.
Well, LeBron James validated his legendary status — and his departure from Cleveland — Thursday night by earning back-to-back NBA titles and consecutive Finals MVP awards with the Miami Heat. Often hailed as the greatest player of this generation, he wouldn’t get Greatest Of All Time recognition until he captured at least a second NBA title. He now has two and counting.
And he left behind a number of great athletes and coaches who are still stuck on one championship. Here are those guys who need another title to become legends:
- Graeme McDowell, 33, became the first European in 40 years to win the U.S. Open when he walked with the trophy in 2010, but it’s he who’s been in a majors drought since.
- Bubba Watson, 34, captured last year’s Masters title, but needs to start winning at a more prolific pace; he owns just four PGA wins in his career.
- Zach Johnson, 37, seemed primed to grab a few majors after beating Tiger Woods for the 2007 Masters, but none have followed.
- Jim Furyk, 43, has accumulated 16 wins on the PGA Tour, with the 2003 Masters as the only major.
- Davis Love III, 49, boasts 20 career PGA Tour wins but only the 1997 PGA Championship was a major.
- Fred Couples, 53, is winding down a career that includes 15 PGA wins and just the 1992 Masters title.
- Peyton Manning, 37, is an early favorite to win a second Super Bowl this season, but it’s still hard to believe his younger brother, Eli, already owns two.
- Drew Brees, 34, was the Super Bowl XLIV MVP but has won only one playoff game in the three years since.
- Ed Reed, 34, snatched his first Super Bowl last season with the Ravens, and the nine-time Pro Bowl safety should contend for another one this year with the Texans.
- Kevin Garnett, 37, expected to win many titles when he joined the Celtics in 2007, but he’s only captured the 2008 trophy. Now he may be moving to L.A.
- Paul Pierce, 35, earned MVP honors in leading Boston to the 2008 title, but one star teammate from that team is gone (Ray Allen) and another may be soon (Garnett).
- Dirk Nowitzki, 35, was the NBA Finals MVP when Dallas won it two years ago, but his team has only regressed since.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL COACHES
- Les Miles, 59, led Louisiana State to the national championship in 2007 and took a 13-0 team back in 2011, but lost to conference rival Alabama.
- Bob Stoops, 52, won the 2000 national title in his second season at Oklahoma, and has coached teams back to the title game, but only come up short.
- Mack Brown, 61, has taken Texas to the title game twice, completing a perfect season in 2005 and ruining a perfect season four years later.
COLLEGE BASKETBALL COACHES
- John Calipari, 54, and Kentucky regularly churn out NBA talent, but after four seasons they have just one championship (2011-12).
- Tom Izzo, 58, has led Michigan State to six Final Four appearances during his 18-year tenure, but only one national championship (1999-2000).
- Jim Boeheim, 68, rode once-in-a-generation player Carmelo Anthony to the 2003 NCAA title, and took Syracuse squad back to the Final Four this past season.
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