Ten months after his infamous decision, Lebron James has finally begun burning the skeletons in his closet. Following the Heat’s dismantling of the underperforming Celtics, Lebron left a few apologetic words to his once adoring fans back home:
“I knew deep down in my heart, as much as I loved my teammates back in Cleveland and as much as I loved home, I knew it couldn’t do it by myself against [Boston],” James said.
If we remove ourselves emotionally from the discussions of legacy and team loyalty, and rather than blindly caste Lebron as a cop-out, we instead put context around his decision, we begin to understand his belief that he needed Wade and Bosh to beat Boston. The Cavs have proven that his supporting cast was terrible. More importantly, Lebron and Miami (or Cleveland) would have had no shot against Boston’s stacked roster without Dwyane Wade playing out of his mind in the series.
Jordan and Pippen were both top-five players in the league when playing together. Shaq and Kobe each shared the same status. Bird, Magic, and Duncan had excellent teams. Why is Lebron “copping-out” for wanting to play with a top-five player? I completely agree that the way he went about his decision was ridiculous, selfish, and at times, excruciatingly embarrassing, but why should he have been limited from joining forces with another legitimate superstar?
However, now that Lebron has an extremely talented team, he should and will be ridiculed extensively if Miami falls apart against the Bulls. Yet with the momentum Miami has gained, I don’t really see Chicago getting past game six in this series.
The 2007-2011 Boston Celtics: One of the Most Underperforming Teams in NBA History
I know, I know. The rest of this column is going to hurt a lot of feelings. I’m sure to get a scathing comment or two screaming about age, injuries, or some bad trade involving the 5th or 6th best player on the Celtics’ roster. But here are the facts:
The 2007-2011 Celtics had the most complete roster we’ve seen in the last 20 years. Even this past year, with the difficulties of age potentially weighing them down, the Celtics had four all-stars. What were Boston fans left with?
One title. One title in a year in which no franchise was ready for several big-name superstars to band together. First, the Celtics took an unprecedented 20 of the possible 21 games to get to the NBA Finals in 2008. They refused to win a road playoff game until Detroit melted in game 6 in the ECF. Then the Celtics proceeded to beat a Laker team with Vladimir Radmonivic guarding Paul Pierce.
But I won’t blame the Celtics for beating up the league with less talent. No, I will save that kind of talk for Miami Heat critics after this season if the Heat are successful. Instead, I will dwell on the Cetlics’ glaring defeats.
2009: The Celtics were up 3-2 against the Orlando Magic heading to Orlando. Yes, up 3-2 and heading back to the most influential home crowd in playoff basketball if needed for game 7. The Celtics faltered on the road and subsequently were blown out in game 7 at home. I don’t care if Kevin Garnett was injured. They were up 3-2 and were blown out in Boston. That’s a choke.
2010: The Celtics were once again up 3-2 without any home games remaining. Of course, Boston fans will quickly jump and point to the Perkins’ injury in game 6. This is the problem: the Celtics were up 13 points in game 7 and Rasheed Wallace had the second best shooting effort of anyone on the Celtics (11 points, 8 boards, 2 assists on 5-11). He definitely stepped up his playing in game 7 and would not have played nearly as many minutes if Perkins had played. Once again, the Celtics forgot how to run their offense and disappeared down the stretch.
2011: The Celtics lost this year because instead of integrating Jeff Green into their offensive and defensive sets, they chose to cry about missing Perkins for weeks. They finished the season 10-11 and lost home advantage to Miami (their only chance to beat the Heat) by two measly games. Their lack of professionalism combined with their lack of poise during the final stretches of games 4 and 5 lead to their defeat.
I don’t find it entertaining to watch an athlete fail like Kobe and Lebron critics. But I hate when excuses are made for those who choked. For the past three years, the Celtics have always shared excuses for their failures. In reality, they flat-out underperformed.