LeBron, LeBron, LeBron

9 07 2010

While considering how dumb MLB is for letting fans continue to vote for the All-Star Game after Swisher was voted in ahead of Youkilis…

Here is a short (maybe) question and answer session with myself regarding the LeBronerator’s decision:

Why wasn’t LeBron smart enough to see the backlash that would build from airing The Decision?

Ego can mask foresight. It can alter a realistic perception of a current situation. Just because LeBron is a great basketball player (and he is great), it doesn’t mean he’s smart enough to have foreseen the hate that has accumulated against him. And as for his “management” team, they’re just a bunch of his buddies from high school who kind of seem like the Turtle, E and Drama to LeBron’s Vinny Chase. Nothing against them but they’ve seemed to hitch a sweet ride onto LeBron’s coattails.

Is Miami the right city for LeBron to leave Cleveland?

Hell yes, it is. Bill Simmons is correct that the ceiling of LeBron’s possible immortality would be winning a title, or series of titles, with the Knicks. Resuscitating a New York franchise would legitimize his Chosen One nickname, even if the Knicks’ legacy is slightly overrated. New York is New York and Madison Square Garden is legendary. HOWEVER, Miami is a big market, ripe for business opportunities, will save Bron lots of dough thanks to its lack of a state income tax and there are two really good players for him to team with. Which leads to…

Shouldn’t LeBron want to win a championship on his own?

I hate the idea that LeBron should be expected to lead his own team. Often times, we sports fans want athletes to fulfill our unrealistic expectations for them. LeBron’s his own guy and hats off to him if he can recognize at a young age (25) that he doesn’t have “it” — the kind of “it” that you see in Gatorade commercials. The “it” that Michael Jordan had and that Kobe Bryant has. Is it a disappointment that LeBron doesn’t have that same fire to be the alpha dog no matter the circumstance? Of course it is but it only feels that way because of the hype the public has built up in LeBron since he was a high schooler. And perhaps LeBron’s peak as a basketball player isn’t in the MJ/Kobe mold. Which brings me to…

Why join Bosh and Wade? Won’t the Heat be considered Wade’s team?

Perhaps LeBron knows the best way for him to maximize his basketball talents is to be what some are calling the Pippen to Wade’s Jordan. I don’t buy this precise theory because MJ had to push Pippen emotionally and physically to become the beast that led him to being a top-50 all-timer. Wade doesn’t need to push Bron like that. It’s really not close to the same scenario; it’s just a convenient analogy for people who want to critique LeBron.

What LeBron can be with Wade is the ultimate alpha dog — without having to score to do so. He can become known as the guy who makes plays for Bosh and Wade. Why is that a bad thing? LeBron can re-define what it means to be an alpha dog. Scoring is important, obviously, and the most celebrated of all basketball skills. Yet passing — playmaking — is what can turn Bron into one of the game’s top five all-time players.

I don’t care that Wade already won a title in 2006. This won’t be Wade’s team — it’ll be Bron’s. Did you see the reaction Miami had when Bron made his choice official? Is there any doubt the city of Miami and the Miami Heat organization would have been majorly disappointed, and perhaps crushed, if Bron had spurned Miami for Cleveland or another city? The reaction to LeBron’s decision is the most telling part of whose team this will become. LeBron is undoubtedly a better overall player than Wade. And Wade recruited Bron and Bosh for a reason. He knows he needs help and as badly as he must have wanted Bosh, he had to have wanted Bron that much more. And it’s likely because he knows who The Man is.

Does LeBron joining Wade and Bosh in Miami make the Heat prohibitive NBA title favorites?

No, but they’re not far off. It’s silly to really evaluate this until all the free agency dust settles. As it stands now, the Lakers are back-to-back champions and look set to bring back their five best players (Kobe, Gasol, Bynum, Artest, Odom). Their frontcourt size is still a huge advantage against any other team and Kobe’s motivation will grow (if that’s possible) with all the Heat hype.

The Heat can’t be considered automatic to win a title in the next two or three years but they’re very close. I’m also tired of hearing that they need role players to win a title. Please don’t overrate the significance of role players. I’m a Lakers fan so I know their importance — Kurt Rambis, Michael Cooper, Rob Horry, Derek Fisher. I could go on and on. We know how important role players are. Yet they’re not the be-all, end-all. There’s a reason there are far more great role players than great players. They’re replaceable and often arise to the occasion only when paired with great players. The Heat will find plenty of good role players to surround the New Big Three.

Don’t sell short the idea that very good veterans will want to play with Bron/Wade/Bosh. Think about it. Three of the top 15 players in the League — and two of the top three — in the prime of their careers playing in a warm-weather city with gorgeous women, a great nightlife scene and in a state with no income tax. You don’t think there are a few ring-less vets who will take the financial hit for a year or two to play there? Plus, they won’t have any pressure on them since the New Big Three will be carrying it all on their backs.

Update: Damn, re-read this a few times and just realized I didn’t write the most important point that can be made in my argument for James to Miami. (Yes, professional writers are not supposed to make these mistakes.) I refuse to bash LeBron for his decision because he opted to take less money to put himself in a better position to win. That’s what this comes down to. I know he’ll still make a sick amount of money and it looks as if he is copping out on our expectations for him to win a title on his own (which isn’t possible since even MJ and Kobe needed major help).

Yet just take a deep breath and remember the two things athletes are criticized for most often: they care too much about making the most amount of money they can and not enough about winning. Well, LeBron chose to take less money so that he could put himself in the best position to win. You can’t hate on him for that.

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