Lebron James is a Miami Heat, “This fall — man, this is very tough — um, this fall I’m going to take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.” I want to address what this means for the league, individual players, and the competitive landscape of the NBA. Before doing that, shout out to Bill Simmons. This piece is written with his writing style in mind. Consequently, it is not the most articulate article, but it is filled with sarcasm and resembles the structure of his columns.
Before I touch on the main points, a few tangents:
1. I bet Tiger Woods is somewhere wishing that Elin went ‘driver’ on him a day before “The Decision” which logged a 7.8 rating on ESPN.
2. Dan Gilbert is an idiot. Check that, Dan Gilbert, owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is a really really rich idiot. Rather than getting into the argument that Lebron should have shown class, or that he could have treated the Cavs better (I think he should have); I want to address Gilbert’s statement
after Lebron announcement. Before making said statement, maybe Gilbert should have held himself accountable. After employing both a questionable coach and inexperienced general manager, he kissed Lebron’s ass every day for the past seven years. He allowed Lebron to live by different rules, sparingly making organizational decisions without his input. It’s fair to say, along with the fans and media; Gilbert fed the narcissism that consumed most of us during the television special. What really annoys me is that Gilbert had the audacity to claim Lebron tanked games. I get why Lebron went to Miami, I get why Gilbert is pissed (Forbes just estimated his franchise lost nearly 100 million in value in the past three days), but for Gilbert to dump on the player who made his franchise relevant, attractive, and viable was just ign
orant. Also, to claim he “quit” against the Celtics is stupid, 27-19-10 and playing 46 minutes in game six, is by definition, not quitting. Rather than questioning who the real “King” is, Gilbert should look in the mirror and reflect on his accomplishments as an owner: landed the number one pick, did absolutely nothing from there on out. Gilbert claiming his weak, like seven days roster, and the likes of Delonte “Don’t bring your mother around, I’ll try to tap” West, will win a championship before Lebron is prima facie evidence of how out-of-touch the Cavs’ owner is. He should go pick up a book written by or on Jerry Buss and assess his accomplishment
s against those of Dr. Buss. If he takes my advice, he’ll soon figure out why Jerry Buss is considered one of the greatest owners in the NBA and why Gilbert is a lame.
3. Lebron might just be an idiot, a dick, an egotist, or a combination of the three. The basketball world was going to tune in either way to hear “The Decision.” Instead of his “team” of trusted advisors stroking his cock, they (or Lebron) should have been like, “whoa, this might not be a good idea. It might make you come off as an attention whore of epic proportion.” There is no right way to break up
with your girlfriend on national TV (even if you both knew you were the better looking one, the more successful one, the one that had more going for himself). Lebron didn’t need to give his former ass of an employer a heads up goodbye, as many have suggested. However, he didn’t need to do what he did. Bad Bron Bron. Lebron should have kept World Wide Wes near him and for gone the ESPN debauchery. He should have announced his decision at a simple press conference that was open to the media (not just the World Wide Leader). This way Lebron would still fulfill his covert obsession for attention and had his face plastered on CNN, FOX, ESPN, Discovery, Food Network, etc. At the Press conference he could have read a prepared statement, have some time for Q and A. He shouldn’t have used the Boys and Girls Club. If he were really concerned about them, he could have worked a deal with the University of Phoenix where by their logo would be plastered all around the stage. The point is he would still be a dick for leaving, but would not look as petulant, self-absorbed, and contrived. The big public relations his brand just took could have been mitigated.
4. I think the fans and talk radios reaction has been misguided to this point. The prevalent argument that everyone is riding right now is “Lebron took the easy way out,” as though winning a title is easy, let alone in a league where Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odem, and Phil Jackson are returning back to back champions. While Vegas might have the Heat as 2 to 1 odds on favorite, the rest of the basketball world has the Lakers still winning it next year. A lot of people think Lebron isn’t a winner and that he betrayed his hometown. While there is truth to those statements, why is he being vilified for doing what we want from our stars. He is taking less money, will undoubtedly sacrifice stats, hardware, and potentially impair his legacy to … WIN. Do we not “play to win the game?!” It seams like the rhetoric surrounding his decision is tied in a massive contradiction. People (including myself) think he should have gone to a team and win as the clear-cut alpha dog. The argument goes that he needs to do that so he can individually shine or individually be as great as the all-timers. But isn’t basketball/ sport about winning? Is that not what we complain about when we discuss the modern athlete? We crow about how athletes don’t give a shit about their teams; how they only care about money and their individual legacies. Don’t get me wrong, Lebron is consciously thinking about his legacy, but he is willing to “sacrifice” a lot to make sure he wins. The smart move was to go to Chicago. He’d have a good core, and be the unquestionable Batman to Derrick Rose’s Robin. He would get the best of both worlds: rings and individual glory. His stats would still be a ridunkculous 29,8, and 8. Instead, he will be making less than Joe Johnson. He is doing that so he can play for a team he wants to win with. Moreover, we don’t know what any other great would have done had they been given the opportunity to play with the third best player in the league and a top 15 all-star. Again I disagree with Lebron choosing Miami over Chicago, but my reasons are couched in individualistic arguments. They aren’t predicated on “The Secret” or on notions of team. For those who argued Lebron doesn’t care about winning and that he only cares about money and fame … step up and own the fact this move shows you were wrong. *Stepping off of the soap box*
5. Before you read my take, I think its fair to let you all know I am a Bulls fan. I thought Lebron made the “wrong” choice. I am disappointed that out of an impressive free agent class we landed, wait for it … Ron Merc… oh wait that was last time… this time we got Bowser … a character from Mario Kart.
So lets run down these three questions:
1. What does this move mean for the league?
Not Sure. While the thought of having a “super team” (the most over used term of the year … type it into Google right now and see what comes up … go ahead … yea that’s what I thought) running around the league, selling out stadiums, seems great. They will also draw notable ratings on television. The Christmas Day game with the Lakers will be an event (I already know the league is scheduling the game.) So it might be great, but I am sure the NBA isn’t excited about what will happen in Ohio, or the fact that Chicago and New York will not showcase the league’s crown jewel in the near future.
2. What does this mean for Lebron, Wade, and Bosh?
As a caveat, the legacy talk for each of these three is contingent upon them winning and winning a lot. If they don’t win in the next 2-3 years this thing will blow up. Also I have no idea how the new collective bargaining agreement will effect this team (especially if they institute a hard cap). Wade and Lebron will still crack the top 50 to have ever played, but Bosh is a different story.
He will never have won a title in Cleveland. (Thanks for stating the obvious captain.) At minimum, he will win at least three tittles before he hangs it up. He will not lead the league in scoring and will not three-peat as league MVP. His record setting pace to destroying the record books and accumulating massive amounts of accolades and hardware look less promising. He will hear a steady flow of “you might have won a couple of rings but you couldn’t do it on your own like Russell, Kareem, Bird, Magic, Michael, Shaq, Timmy, and Kobe” … wait those guys won titles with great talent around them … oh well whatever he will still hear it. Finally, his chances of passing Michael Jordan as the faintly disputed GOAT are all but finished.
You are probably thinking, damn listen to this Lebron hater. I’m really not. He has been the best basketball player in the league for the past two seasons and he will continue to have the greatest single impact on the league (on and off the court) until he retires. Lebron understands history. After putting up ridiculous numbers, earning two MVPs, and turning twenty-five, Lebron is starting to assess his future and his legacy. Leaving Cleveland, from a basketball standpoint, was the right decision. He will win championships in Miami. He may have underestimated the core of the Bulls. While I think he will win more championships in Miami than he would have won in Chicago (I’m guessing he finishes with 4-6 rings – yes I know that is a lot and it is really difficult to win just one ring—with Miami. He could have probably snagged up to 3 with Chicago.) The difference is that 3 in Chicago would have been “worth” more than 5 in Miami, given the nature of the rosters and history of the franchises. Either way, the guy is a lock for becoming a top ten great of all time (sorry Oscar or Hakeem one of you will be the first to go.) If he can still manage to dominate the game in different ways – average triple double, become a staple on the first team all defense every year, and elevate his numbers and impact consistently in the postseason, I can see him climbing as high as the top five of all time… That’s pretty freaking good, mane!
This collection of talent will benefit his legacy the most. Being that he has a ring, a final MVP, one of the best Finals performances ever (taking the officiating during that series with a grain – wait — taking it with a cup of salt), and solid career numbers, this will only enhances his placement among the greats. Lets assume Miami take down 4 titles with this group. Wade would then join a select group of greats with five titles. Furthermore, the reason it helps Wade’s legacy more than Lebron’s is because no one was ever going to put Wade ahead of Magic and Bird the way some have already started thinking with Lebron. Everyone was willing to move him as high as the top twenty if he ended his career with one more ring and kept his numbers up. With five rings, his stats, ability to play on two championship rosters, and staying with the organization that drafted him, he could be destined to finish in the top fifteen all-time, if not sneak into the top ten.
Bosh is along for the ride. Honestly, I have not seen very many Raptors’ games (they are never televised). Having said that, he has solid numbers, but has done close to nothing in the playoffs. He has never been a good defender, and can be considered the type of guy that picks up big numbers on a bad team (think Zack Randolph… but Bosh maybe a lot better them him.) He is an all-star caliber guy, but not a threat to the top 40 all-time no matter what he does in Miami. I’d still take Pau, Dirk, Amare, Al (YES Al Jefferson), over Bosh (yea I know the last two/ guys might be harsh, but with Amare I have a more explosive version of Bosh, Jefferson I get a better defender/rebounder that would fit better with Lebron and Wade). If Bosh had stayed in Toronto, he might not make the top one hundred. I think his ceiling will be Chris Weber, even if he wins 4 titles with the Heat (I reserve the right to say I may be grossly undervaluing Bosh, but I’ll stick with this assessment until he proves me wrong.) Best thing for Bosh is that he doesn’t seem occupied with legacy talk or his own numbers. He wants to be a celebrity and playing alongside Wade and Lebron in South Beach will get that done.
3. Competitive landscape and predictions?
Next year comes down to the Los Angeles Lakers, Oklahoma City Thunder, Dallas Mavericks, Portland Trailblazers, Orlando Magic, Boston Celtics, Miami Heat, and the Chicago Bulls … okay maybe not the last team. Of those seven teams, four have a real shot at winning it all: LA (the best shot), Orlando, Dallas, Miami (I know I shouldn’t leave the Tics out, they prove me wrong every time, but trust me … they are done.) Dallas matches up really well with LA and has a talented roster, a trade here, free agent pick up there, could present problems for LA coming out of the West. Oklahoma is a strong team, but they are not big enough to bang with LA. They are getting better and will be a real contender after next season. Orlando needs to move some pieces and/or start booing Vince Carter at home games (he’ll actually give a damn and play better.) They have Howard inside which will present problems for a team like Miami (unless Miami goes and gets Shaq or Perkins in which case Howard will become a bitch and do absolutely nothing). After Kobe’s jab at Shaq, don’t be surprised if Shaq signs with Miami for a king-size Snickers and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream – Shaq’s incentive: ride along for a shot at getting a fifth ring.
Which brings me to my finals pick: LA v. Miami (you are probably thinking how stupid is this guy he doesn’t even know who will fill Miami’s roster). You are right. Also, a team like that coming together in the first year will not have the chemistry to pull it off, I mean when was the last time three guys came together -out of no where- and won a title in their first year???
Riley is already scheming for the proper fits, the trio is on their trio’s and blackberry’s and i-Phone’s recruiting veteran nates. They’ll put just enough talent on the team to make it work. My only huge concern for them is putting size on that team and having a formidable defensive presence inside (the perimeter will be locked up, bet that.) They need to get big and strong inside. At the end of the day … Chris Bosh will not get it done for the Miami Heat (I’m saying that in Stephen A.’s voice).
Finals Prediction: LA over Miami in 6. Kobe is already in a gym somewhere yelling at Ron for not understanding how a back pick works in the triangle. Further, he is scheduled to make a visit to Pau’s house tomorrow. Not to watch the World Cup, but to hit Pau with a baseball bat while making him where a tutu during layup drills. This will be the last one Phil and Kobe will get, as a pair, and individually. They will win it in Miami after leaving LA up 3-2 (Miami will have home court).
The landscape of basketball will change with a Miami mini dynasty. The Bulls, Magic, Celtics, Hawks, Bucks and whatever other sad team in the East that meets these guys are on notice. They will get their butts handed to them after next season. With Kobe being far past his physical prime and Phil’s last year looming, they present the only obstacle for this Miami team in the short run. Oklahoma, Portland, and whatever other teams eventually makes it out of the West will not have what they need to stop these guys. Only two scenarios that could throw a wrench in my prediction: first, the Lakers trade Bynum, Lamar, the Kardashians, Adam Morrison’s corpus, Jeanie Buss playboy photos, Jack Nicolson, and the entire cast of the Hills for D. Howard. Realistically, if they moved Bryant for Howard today, and signed Melo in the off-season, they would have a great shot at beating Miami down the line (waits I just proposed a Bryant for Howard trade and prefaced it with “realistically”… my bad). Second, speaking of Melo, he and CP3 can change things for Miami’s future by either signing with Orlando or signing with teams that have better cores. Either way, I don’t see any of that happening so I stand by my predication: LA over Miami in 6 on Miami’s home court, the end of Phil Jacksons historic career – he goes down as the greatest coach in sport -, it will not be the end of Kobe’s career but he will finish with an remarkable six NBA titles and a visa to the top seven greatest players to have ever played this game. It will be the start of a dynasty for Lebron and Wade (Wade finishes with 5 tittles and Lebron will finish with 5 – he leave after wining four with the Heat and wins one in New York in his mid thirties), and a new kid comes along somewhere during or after all of this and makes us all wonder if he could be the next Jordan.