Thursday, July 1, 2010

7 comments Who Is This LeBron James Guy? He Plays Basketball? In the NBA?

I vow this will be my only article about LeBron James until he signs as a free agent with a team...unless there is another terrible article written pertaining to where James should go as a free agent. It's a writer's paradise to write about this, so Jay Mariotti can't be left out of this rush to make a prediction. Previously, I have talked about where James should go here and here, but now that LeBron can make a decision, which doesn't mean he will, everyone has a suggestion for where LeBron should sign...including Jay Mariotti.

The title of this article says LeBron should eat his ego and join Dwyane Wade in Miami. If Mariotti attempted to eat his ego, well it just wouldn't be possible. A person could bust internally from a meal that large.

In modern times or yesteryear, nothing matches the knuckle-hair-searing concept of LeBron James, in a package deal capable of igniting a tropical storm, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Miami Heat.

I have to say this would be the least exciting matchup there could be after this free agent experience for 2010 is all over. I do not want Wade, James, and Bosh on the same team. I don't think it would work out very well, and I also don't like the idea because I think the NBA has a chance for the Eastern/Western Conference to be very competitive because the biggest stars are on separate teams.

In typical Mariotti fashion, he wrote in November 2009 that the ONLY place for LeBron James was New York, but now the ONLY place for James is Miami. Mariotti tends to forget what he has written previously sometimes. Much like the time I covered a Jay Mariotti column in March 2009 when he wrote how boring and greedy the conference tournaments were in college basketball...and then not 8 hours later after Syracuse and UConn had played a six overtime game he completely changed his opinion around and tried to re-post the same article like he never held his original opinion. So let's keep this mind as Mariotti decides, this week, that LeBron James should be in Miami with Wade and Bosh.

Mostly, Mariotti doesn't think James should go to Chicago because Jay Mariotti hates the entire city of Chicago and wishes it would burn to the ground. I am sure the city feels the same way about him. So we will never see a Lebron-to-Chicago column written by Mariotti and if James ends up there, we can count on Mariotti to write an article about how this is never going to work out. Of course if it does work out, he will edit his original article to say he always knew it would work out.

This would be an unprecedented union of basketball talent in one swoop -- a supersized project coached and/or overseen by Hall of Famer Pat Riley, don't forget --

2003-2004 Los Angeles Lakers. How about that team? They had four Hall of Fame players on that team, along with important role players like Derek Fisher. Even knowing two of those Hall of Fame players were on the downside of their career, that team did not win the NBA Title by the way. So this collection of talent on the Heat wouldn't be unprecedented, even if these players are in their prime, because the Lakers/Celtics of the 80's had quite a collection of talent as well.

Let's not act like Bosh, Wade, and James on the same team are better than any other collection of talent before. It's close, but simply not true.

and I've come today to say it is no silly pipedream or blogger's whim.

Because bloggers are always doing shit on a whim. Like writing in November that LeBron James should play for the Knicks and then writing in June that LeBron James should play for the Heat. Bloggers are always doing shit like that.

Forget all the various reports attached to sources who may or may not exist. The most credible form of attribution comes from Wade himself, who all but confirmed to the Miami Herald his desire to create the trifecta.

So Wade confirmed he wants two great players on his team in Miami? Well clearly this means it is 100% going to happen since any NBA player in his right mind would want to be joined by Bosh and Wade.

"I've told [the Heat] what I would like to see happen,'' said Wade, who isn't referring to reupping Udonis Haslem.

Which isn't actually a terrible idea.

"But what I want to see, that doesn't mean it's going to happen. This situation is a no-brainer. But just in case it isn't, I've got to see what's out there. For me, it's not about the money. I just want to win.''

Wow! Wade's complete reluctance in this quote to say anything of substance, other than he wants Bosh and James on his team if it is possible even thought it may not be, makes me think this is going to happen. I would say 95% of NBA players would want James and Bosh on their team, but this doesn't mean it is a good idea.

There's no better path to winning than sharing a locker room with James and Bosh, who instantly would lift the Heat into prime title contention and render every other Eastern Conference team hopeless for years.

Not shockingly, I disagree. I really don't think pairing Wade and James together is the path to success, unless Dwayne Wade is fine with being a second fiddle on an NBA team and Chris Bosh doesn't mind being the third option. If this happens, it could work, but these guys won't suddenly accept being seen as second-best behind LeBron. This isn't a group of older players who want to win a championship, this is a group of three players who want to show they are the best players in the NBA. In my humble opinion, three guys that all want to be "the guy" won't work well on a team.

And if James suddenly gets cold feet about leaving his native northeast Ohio or somehow decides Chicago is a better place than south Florida in the wintertime, let me join his team of advisers and point him in the right direction. How does LeBron always prioritize his ambitions?

"I want to win," he says with conviction.

He very well may win in Miami, but there is also a good chance a team of LeBron, Wade, and Bosh would have too many guys who want the ball and not enough basketballs to go around. I have poo-pooed the idea of LeBron going to New York, but only for the reasoning that he needs to do it to enhance his legacy and because the Knicks would need more than just LeBron to make the team successful. If LeBron went to New York with Joe Johnson or another "B-level" free agent or two he could potentially make them a successful team. The same thing goes for the Bulls. They don't need James and Wade. They need James and then maybe David Lee or someone like that. Chicago has the shorter route in my mind to success in the NBA Finals than any other NBA team LeBron is looking at.

Not to mention, Mariotti thinks James should eat his ego, but what about Bosh and Wade's ego? Those egos will have to be "eaten" as well. That's a lot of ego eating.

Then he should go to South Beach and form the superteam. Because there's no assurance he'll ever win in Cleveland, where bad karma and civic fatalism is a sinister mix.

Of course there isn't an assurance LeBron would win in Miami either. I hate the idea LeBron shouldn't re-sign with the Cavs because they are cursed and have bad vibes. That's the best fucking possible reasoning for not re-signing there from Jay's perspective? Even though it may present James with a great opportunity to win an NBA Title if they make some other smart moves?

And there's no assurance he'll ever win in Chicago, where Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah aren't quite as great as advertised

Mariotti has no proof these guys aren't as good as advertised. He's just talking without worrying about the substance of what he is saying. Why would LeBron want to play with one of the best point guards in the NBA, who is still very young, and a big man who can rebound and is willing to do what it takes to help his team win? I hate Noah, but he has shown at the University of Florida and with the Bulls he doesn't want to be "the man" and will play very well while also fitting into a team.

And the Jordan statue looms as a reminder of what James isn't and never will be.

But if LeBron "eats" his ego then this won't matter to him! He won't care if Jordan is better because his ego doesn't care! So if LeBron can "eat" his ego then Chicago would be a great place to play, as long as James can accept he isn't as good as Michael Jordan. Come on Mariotti, let's not be a singleminded hack.

Both megastars would have to cede their accustomed roles as alpha dogs, compromise their egos and deal with the self-fallout when one or the other makes a game-winning shot.

This is where Mariotti is wrong about a Wade/James pairing. It isn't about which player gets the last shot, it is about both players wanting X amount of shots per game, wanting isolation in certain instances, and they will both want the ball because they both think they have guys who can't guard them currently guarding them. It's not the game-winning shot issue that is a problem, and both Wade and James want to win, but they are also used to winning and knowing they are the best player on their team at the same time. I think it is the season-long strain that would cause this pairing to not work.

In this delicate equation, James would be the vocal leader, the ballhandler, the triple-double monster, the defensive demon. Wade would be the slasher, the finisher, the one taking the last shot more often than James.

I think this is a pipe-dream. If James is the ball-handler then that means he will have to pass the ball to Wade rather than be the guy who is the slasher and the finisher. The very problem with these two being on the same team is that James can do EVERYTHING that Dwayne Wade can do, so why would he need Wade to finish and slash?

LeBron James doesn't need players better than him on his team, he needs a couple players who are good enough to score points when James isn't scoring and to make the other team pay attention to them during a game. He needs a supporting cast member who is good enough 50% of the time to be "the man" on a team, he doesn't need a co-headliner.

It's doable, as we saw at the Bejing Olympics two years ago -- just so long as LeBron relinquishes the idea that he never can be Jordan.

There is a difference in a short Olympic competition and an 82 game-plus season. Why would LeBron relinquish the idea he can never be Jordan? That's my question. For a guy who wants to be the biggest athlete in the world with the highest "Q" rating, that is a lot of ego swallowing that needs to be done at the age of 25 years old. Michael Jordan wasn't even Michael Jordan at the age of 25, why would LeBron give up on the idea he can match Jordan at this point in his career?

I'm not saying LeBron can be Jordan, but this is LeBron's line of thinking. He wants to win, but he also wants to be the main guy on a team that wins.

And the minute he joined forces with Wade and Bosh, he would be criticized for needing two great players to help him when Jordan had only Scottie Pippen and Bryant had only Pau Gasol. So what?

Gasol can't carry a team to a title, Pippin couldn't carry a team to a title, and Dwyane Wade has already carried a team to a title. This James and Bosh to Miami movement isn't even about LeBron losing his ego, it is about Dwyane Wade losing his ego. If he really wanted to be the second-best guy on a team then it could work out, but I don't think he cares to lose his ego. He's won an NBA Title while being the best guy on a team and probably thinks he could do it again.

Oh, there will be pressure. If the three-headed monster doesn't win a title by Year 2 -- and a few more later -- the howls will be loud.

Starting with the howls coming from Jay Mariotti who will write an article about how LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were a terrible combination, but he will also fail to mention this combination was his terrible idea.

Riley is old like a fox. Armed with the advantage of Wade and beautiful weather, he has the most cards in the NBA's craziest poker game. He can tell James and Bosh that he's coaching the team, and his credibility will be the adhesive.

"Riley is old like a fox?" What the hell does this mean?

It's that simple! Pat Riley will simply start coaching the team and Wade and James will immediately get along and the Heat will start winning games. Pat Riley has never really had to deal with two players in their prime on the same team who want to be "the man" and also have that team succeed. Kareem got along with Magic once he realized he wasn't the best player on the team anymore. Shaq knew he was along for the ride with Wade and didn't have illusions he was the main guy on the Heat team.

Maybe somebody may think I am overestimating it, but I think it is being underestimated...Wade and James would have long-term problems on the same team. It may work in the short-term, but they both have the chance to go down as one of the greatest NBA players of all-time, and I am not sure they can do this on the same team.

As for money, how much does James need? Whatever salary hit he has to take will be more than offset by the buzz explosion in Miami, which only will expand his endorsement portfolio.

So if LeBron can eat his ego and is willing to take less money why doesn't he join Dallas or San Antonio? If he isn't worried about his ego or money, his options as to where he could play are greatly opened up into many other NBA teams. The reason LeBron doesn't do this is because he wants the max contract and he still wants to be the guy on a team. He doesn't want a situation where he has to give something up by signing with a team, he wants a situation where he receives something in return for signing with a team.

He wants to rule the financial world, as his friend Warren Buffett will attest. Besides, didn't he take less money and sign with Nike when Reebok and adidas were offering more?

It's not like Nike is a small shoe company or anything. It's where Kobe and Michael Jordan signed as well. LeBron took less money for Nike, but probably earned more in the long run. Because he signed with Nike for less money than Reebok or Adidas doesn't mean he would necessarily do the same in regard to his future NBA team.

Being a sole savior in sports is a romantic notion in the 21st century. But for James and Wade, joining forces will pay more dividends than trying to win alone.

But do Dwyane Wade and LeBron James know this? I am not sure they do. This fantasy of a "superteam" isn't good for the NBA and probably isn't good for the star players that are a part of the "superteam."

If and when the Miami superteam comes to fruition, I suspect the league will want to televise all 82 regular-season games and every playoff game, all the way to a mega-Finals against Kobe and the Lakers.

I think Jay is getting a bit ahead of himself.

All of this free-agent maneuvering may annoy you, but David Stern's league never has been more fun and suspenseful.

David Stern's league will become less fun and suspenseful if Bosh, Wade, and James end up on the same team. It may be a great story in the short-term if all these players ended up on the same team, but I would like to see the marquee free agents spread out among the other NBA teams. I think that will make the NBA more exciting and suspenseful.

Wouldn't it be more exciting if Wade and Nowitzki teamed up in Dallas, Bosh and Pierce both went to Chicago, LeBron went to Cleveland and was joined by Scola, while Amare and Joe Johnson go to New York and Boozer and Rudy Gay go to the Rockets. I'm obviously just eyeballing this, but wouldn't this be more exciting for the NBA than to have a "superteam?" I think so.

As the song goes, welcome to Miami, epicenter of hoops.

I'm pretty sure that's not how the song goes.

I suppose I will never understand some people's infatuations with "superteams" and how they don't see these "superteams" won't always work out well.


HH said...

It's doable, as we saw at the Bejing Olympics two years ago -- just so long as LeBron relinquishes the idea that he never can be Jordan.

Jay Mariotti is such a professional writer that he doesn't seem to accept ... grammar. From context, he clearly wants LeBron to give up trying to be as good as Jordan. The proper way to phrase this is "LeBron relinquishes the idea that he CAN be Jordan." If LeBron relinquishes the idea that he CAN NEVER be Jordan, he actually gives up the idea that he can't be Jordan, meaning he thinks he can be Jordan.

I'm not sure if my explanation makes sense, but Mariotti is wrong.

Bengoodfella said...

HH, your explanation makes sense and I am upset I missed that. He means the opposite but he is saying that a "superteam" would work if LeBron could accept that he could be Jordan.

I am not sure if an editor should catch that or not, but it was a good catch on your part. Clearly, subconsciously Mariotti wants LeBron to go to Chicago.

FormerPhD said...

1) In 1988, Worthy, Kareem and Magic won a title playing under Pat Riley.

In the mid-1990's Phil Jackson coached a team with Rodman, Pippen and Jordan.

Heck Rudy Tomjanovich (spelling) coached a Rockets team with Drexler and Olajuwon.

2) As for Jordan "only" needing Pippen and Kobe "only" needing Gasol: first, Pippen was named one of the fifty greatest players in NBA history; Gasol took a terrible Memphis team to the playoffs. These guys weren't scrubs.

Second, Jordan also needed BJ Armstrong, Tony Kukoc, Dennis Rodman, Steve Kerr and others to play well and/or hit game winning shots in the playoffs. Kobe has/had Fisher, Odom and Horry play key roles in his championships.

Third, having three max players severely hampers a team's ability to put together a good bench and get the role players that seem to glue these championship teams together.

For example, a team with three "superstars" and one good player was beaten by a Lakers team with "only" Kobe and Gasol. The critical turning point? An injury to Kendrick Perkins...

As you also pointed out there was a very stacked Lakers team with FOUR future HOFs and they didn't win a championship.

3) Wade has a history of injuries. He's played 7 seasons and missed more than 20 games in 3 of them.

4) Who plays center? Who is their PG? I don't care if Lebron, Bosh and Wade are on the same team. You're not winning shit if Jermaine O'Neal and Carlos Arroyo round out your starting 5. If they lose Udonis, their top two guys off the bench would be Beasley and Chalmers...

5)As for money, how much does James need?

Why does Jay only focus on James? How much money does any of this year's big free agents need? Does Wade need 18 million a year? Why the fuck doesn't Wade take a "hometown" discount and make the super team happen, seeing as how he'd benefit almost equally.

6) Continuing with Mariotti's grammar: If and when the Miami superteam comes to fruition, I suspect the league will want to televise all 82 regular-season games and every playoff game

If and when? Why is "and when" there? "If and when" is used when something is likely (often overwhelmingly so). No one knows wtf is going on with the Lebron, Wade or Bosh, so using "if and when" is egotistical when "if" would work just as well.

As for televising "every playoff game," maybe I should subscribe Jay to TV Digest because it may shock his tiny brain that all of the playoff games are already televised.

Bengoodfella said...

Rich, I forgot a/b the Rockets had Olajuwon, Drexler and Barkley one year also. They were older, but they also didn't win it all. Basically, as you showed this wouldn't be the greatest collection of players on one team of all-time.

You also correctly pointed out that while those great players were great players, Jordan and Kobe needed role players to step up and hit big shots. They just can't do it themselves. Great example a/b how Perkins the 5th best player on the team was a big loss for the Celtics. You can't just put random guys around these star players and expect the team to win.

Now the Heat did draft a couple bench guys, but they didn't really get a starting PG or C, so those spots are still open. After spending all that money on those three guys, where do you get a quality PG and C?

The reason the focus wasn't on Wade is b/c everyone's focus is on James, which is stupid. If Wade wanted to take less money he could do it and get a good team around him. That's also what I was trying to say, that none of these guys want to take a discount to win a championship (or at least don't seem to want to), so this could never happen.

Mariotti just says "if and when" because sucks and wants to claim Miami is really the best spot for those three guys. What's funny is that I think a team with Wade/Bosh, James/Bosh would be a great team and Wade and James shouldn't play together. Signing two max contracts and then filling the team's other needs w/ the excess money would probably work better than signing three max contract guys.

Haha, I missed the playoffs thing a/b all the games being televised. Damn me! Good call.

Anonymous said...

OK, am I the only one who laughed when I heard Jay Mariotti had written an article telling Lebron to sublimate his ego?

Jay "I do two seconds of research at most on any given topic but I'll still act like I know more than you" Mariotti?

What a clown.

The Casey said...

Yeah, I read this morning that if James/Wade/Bosh went to MIA, the Heat would be something like $12k under the cap with only Chalmers and their draft picks on the roster. They could only sign minimum-salary players then. And while there are likely some vets who'd give up the cash to win the ring, I don't know how many, or how much they could be counted on throughout the reg. season/postseason

Bengoodfella said...

Anon, Jay Mariotti telling someone else to sublimate his ego is classic isn't it?

Casey, I really don't think Wade and James on the same team would work. Even supposing it did work, like you said they wouldn't have enough money to sign any other players around them. The thing about this is that they could sign veterans who want a ring, but Wade/Bosh/James salaries aren't coming off the books and if the cap doesn't rise then the Heat won't have a whole lot of other options in 1-2 years when the veterans leave the team.

I think signing two of them may work, and then surround them with quality role players. You can get 2-3 quality players for a max contract guy. I would go that route.