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The LeBron Rant

Posted by Neil Paine on July 9, 2010

Basketball is all about sharing, about unselfishness, about legends like Bill Russell doing whatever it takes to win. But apparently it's also about who has the bigger... um, contract.

You see, all we heard these past few days was whether LeBron and D-Wade could co-exist as "Alpha Males", or that LBJ joining Wade in Miami is supposedly something a true "Alpha Male" (ostensibly referring to Kobe or MJ) would never do... It's curious that this hyper-macho view of basketball first began to emerge less than two decades ago, though. Like a commenter said yesterday, the Michael Jordan era was so transformative that we may very well have have convinced ourselves that the MJ-Pippen formula (and the Alpha-Beta designations contained therein) is the only way to view the game. Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball.

Yet in those same pages Simmons also extolled the virtues of "The Secret", which is allegedly about sacrificing numbers, money, and individual glory for team success... Well, isn't what LeBron did last night the living embodiment of The Secret, leaving millions on the table and turning himself into a hometown villain, all for the sake of winning? If Vince Lombardi was right and "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing", then LeBron made the only rational decision last night. But the dirty secret of commentators like Simmons is that winning by itself is not good enough -- you apparently also have to win while simultaneously vanquishing the idea of another male rival sharing your spotlight, because god forbid that another Alpha could possibly question your hoops authority when you're doing all that winning.

Oh, but I forgot, basketball is the ultimate team game, and it's all about sacrificing stats and glory for championships, right?

I guess this LeBron situation provides the ultimate opportunity for people to put their money where their cliches have been all these years.

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281 Responses to “The LeBron Rant”

  1. jpmeyer Says:

    ...and that's why I've always thought that Simmons is a tool.

  2. Michael Says:

    For true winning though, Chicago was the better situation.

    Wade and Bosh and Chalmers along with a bunch of mid level exceptions and minimum wage guys, at best.

    Rose, Noah, Deng, and Boozer and at least a couple of decent bench guys.

    I get the feeling we will see that Bosh really doesn't impact a team that much.

  3. snley Says:

    Very well put Neil. Nice to see some reasonable evaluation of LeBron's decision and the hyperbolic criticism surrounding it.

  4. Anon Says:

    Too bad you're not an ESPN analyst Neil. But I guess they're not gonna put people who are rational on the payroll -- they need "sensational journalists" a la Bill Simmons (and I like Simmons btw).

    So all I gotta ask is this:

    If LeBron's hypothetical rings with the Heat don't "count" (and this is NOT a bash on this player btw, just using this as an example,) what about Kobe's this year and in 09? You know, the player the media claims did it "did it the right way"? Despite playing alongside a player whom you could make a pretty darn good case for outplaying him since he got to LA in Pau Gasol? The same player he complained about not having on his team in the post-Shaq years and demanded a trade away from the Lakers as a result (which I would too if Smush Parker was my team's starting PG...)? Oh wait, Pau didn't take the majority of the Lakers' possessions, so he doesn't count...although we all KNOW that being "The Man" where that's concerned (or what we like to call Poss. % on the blog) doesn't necessarily MEAN you're the best player on your own team, right?

    If I didn't like this sport for the other things it offers of course, I would despise it for its continued display of backwards logic among the media and casual fans. +1 on the rant Neil.

  5. Adam Says:

    If winning is not going to be a symptom of supreme work ethic, the will to overcome adversity, besting a worthy rival, etc., why is it important?

    If I go challenge an eight year old to a game of basketball and beat him 10-nothing, should I feel pride?

  6. Chase Says:

    Good post, Neil. I think these are the same people who say Kobe's first three rings don't count (count for what? Who knows) and that apparently only one person on each team can really win a ring. The vitriol being directed at LeBron baffles me. People seem personally offended that he chose not to go be the savior for CLE/NY; of course, those are the same people who would rip him to shreds if he went to CLE/NY and never won a championship, saying he couldn't win.

  7. J-S Says:

    I can definitely see your point Neil, but one of the most rewarding thing about sports is winning a trophy by beating the very best players or teams your league has to offer, not teaming with those players to beat lesser opponents. Depending on what you think of the guy (and to be honest, I wasn't a big fan of his to begin with and this whole circus yesterday sure didn't help...) accepting what will almost certainly be a less important role either shows LeBron's unselfishness and desire to win or his lack of killer instinct. I personally think that the fear of failure in Cleveland, Chicago and New York, in situations where much of the pressure would have been on him to get titles, played a big role in his decision to join a proven winner in the Wade-Riley tandem, especially with Bosh coming too. Now the question is : what will LeBron's legacy be if he wins his championships in a team where he might not even be the true leader?

  8. thparadox Says:

    AMEN.

    This is truly an smart move. It's not unselfish, but it puts the right values first. Winning > Money&stats

  9. Charrua Says:

    I can understand Lebron's wish to go to Miami (easier life, not so much expected of him), but he was playing for the best regular season team in the league, right?
    He wasn't exactly Kevin Garnett here, lifting a terrible team to 50 wins every season and losing in the first round in a loaded conference; he was in the team most people favored to win the title!!
    How much better can Miami 10/11 be than Cleveland 09/10, after all? 6 games?

  10. Eddo Says:

    I'll echo what J-S says in post #7: Yes, it's about winning, but also being competitive. James has essentially taken the easy way out.

    As Simmons put it yesterday, everyone assumed James's decision was between loyalty (Cleveland), winning (Chicago), and brand (New York/New Jersey); no one thought he'd wind up choosing "HELP!"

  11. Pageup1000 Says:

    next poll, who's going to win it next year

  12. Anon Says:

    "...but he was playing for the best regular season team in the league, right?"

    Yes, REGULAR season team. Too bad in the playoffs the only player on that same team that consistently produced in the postseason was ...LeBron, even in the supposed "flameout" this playoffs (which this blog did a great job of mythbusting). In Miami at least Wade can provide the playoff punch you need from others to win a title.

    And for the post above, Chicago doesn't exactly have a roster of proven playoff performers either. Rose is incredibly overrated, and Boozer is not someone who brings his ball with him to the playoffs. Perhaps Noah can give playoff production, but Wade is leagues better. And we haven't even talked about what Bosh can bring to the table as a solid 3rd star.

    Nothing wrong with getting that "HELP" as Simmons put it. You need it to win titles.

  13. Dickie Dunn Says:

    I guess having a dog-and-pony show on ESPN doesn't count for making him a villain? It's all great he wants to win and sacrifice some money and stats in the process but the whole "LeBron James Show" was as much about ego and hype as anything else.

    If James handled it old school by simply having a press conference and going to Miami...throwing in some crocodile tears for Cleveland and how much he'll miss the fans but in the end it's about the rings, he'd look a lot better right now than the dog-and-pony show that ESPN and James' handlers concocted.

    Yeah, the Boys and Girls clubs get some coin out of this but to be honest it's a poor attempt to save some PR face. He has enough money where he could simply give those proceeds out of his foundation if he were truly sincere.

    James deserves the hate he's getting. It's not about his desire to win...it's about his desire to feed his ego.

  14. Dan Says:

    I really agree with your post, Neil. I had a conversation with my basketball buddy last night about what this "Miami Thrice" scenario will do for the game. To me, all signs indicate that Bosh, Wade, and James are simply trying to do something unprecedented. That's where I think your astute discussion of the "Alpha-Beta Male Championship Strategy" comes into play.

    Historically speaking, there are only a few franchises whose legacies resonate in fans' collective memory. This can be seen in the media's insistence on continually rehashing the "Glory Days" of basketball between Bird and Magic and exhaustively analyzing Jordan's hegemonic presence in the league during the 90's. Consequently, basketball enthusiaists of all types are quick to ridicule LeBron's decision because it simply does not fit into the formula they equate with winning.

    This historical narrative is tiresome and quite contradictory. By all accounts, Jordan is regarded as one of the greatest players to ever play the game. Additionally, he entered a stratosphere of fame that allowed him to transcend the game itself (thank you, Nike). Why then, are people looking for his heir apparent? Has there been another Jordan? No. Another Russell? No. Chamberlain? No. These are unique talents that transformed the game and are not likely to be replicated.

    For this reason, I don't see why analysts, coaches and fans try to glean some deeper blueprint for success from Jordan's teams when it is clear that they were built around a unique talent. In so doing, people try to jam all great players succeeding him into the niche his talent created for him, both on his team and in the league. I think this perspective does a disservice to our current players as well as promote an intellectually stinted way of viewing a game we all love. Consequently, I wholeheartedly endorse this move by LeBron; he transformed the league and is challenging all of our popular attitudes about Basketball.

    Go Celtics

  15. ScottR. Says:

    LeBron took the coward's way out and has now tarnished his basketball legacy forver. If LeBron is one of the GOAT, he shouldn't have to gravy train his way to a title. Since he's now conceded he can't get it done in Cleveland, he's also conceded he's not one of the best ever. LeBron doesn't have the balls to grind it out and risk it all to win one in Cleveland. If he had tried and failed in Cleveland that would still be more meaningful then winning a title on some artificial dream team.

  16. Tweedster Says:

    "...left millions on the table"?

    Florida has no personal income tax. It wasn't some virtuous move purely for winning's sake and to think so would be ridiculously naive.

    By the way, does it really take an hour to say "I'm signing with Miami"?

  17. Jason J Says:

    I'm in agreement here. You can't have it both ways. Either you respect guys for being willing to do less for the betterment of those around them in order to win, or you respect those who are not satisfied unless they are dominating all competition.

    Hell those two things aren't even mutually exclusive, but don't praise retired champs for doing one or both of those and bash current players for the same thing. I don't know what the difference is between Shaq going to LA and them drafting Kobe and LeBron choosing to sign with Wade. He just took the GM out of the equation and made the choice for himself.

    And FYI to those people who are claiming that Jordan would never have done anything like this because he needed to compete against the best - Michael copped during Ewing's retirement ceremony to shamelessly recruiting Pat for the Tarheels and the Bulls. This guy wanted to win and wanted great teammates. He worked hard to tutor Scottie and help him reach his potential. He was very happy to get Dennis Rodman. The most competitive guy in the world wanted the best possible teammates. Why shouldn't LeBron?

    And if it makes a difference, I'm really not saying this out of some fidelity to LeBron. I'm a Celtics fan, so this trade really is potentially only harmful to my future NBA happiness.

  18. Richard Bauer Says:

    I understand the direction of the rant, but I believe you missed the boat as far as what Simmons meant by "The Secret" as was made aware to him via his Vegas chat with Isiah Thomas. The Secret is that it's not about basketball at all. Its about everything else. In that sense, LeBron of the last 2 seasons with Cleveland might be the living embodiment of The Secret cause his team looked the part and smelled the part, but something outside basketball kept it from winning. I don't know what, but that Cavs team knows. It's why we will never get any response from LBJ towards the Cavs owner after his fun letter to the fans of Cleveland basketball. Cause LBJ will take the high road. Cause he has no choice. Until we get the Mike Brown autobiography telling us all about the problems within the organization that might have contributed to the failures we will never know. The true Secret of this whole Miami Heat team is that these 3 players knew each other and all wanted this to happen thanks to being closer friends via the Team USA days of 07-08. What they share outside of basketball made them friends and want to be teammates again. These three arent randomly selecting a place with cap room with just some guys they know put up numbers. They are going cause they want to work at a job together with friends. What a fun job it'll be. :)

  19. Vinsanity Says:

    It's not only what you do, but how you do it, and to whom you do it to. Lebron made a "business" decision and a decision to make "Lebron James happy". This is his right. But his position is contradictory. A good business decision would have been to go to Chicago or NY for the endorsement opportunities and to take more money in salaries. However, he chose friendship over money, over his community, over his commitment to the organization. Nevertheless this is his right to make this choice.

    However, what is also important is how you do it. Lebron's stature in and responsibility to Cleveland is much much greater than that of Bosh's to Toronto or Wade's in Miami. Cleveland and Ohio are going through a depressed period economically and socially, and thus homegrown kids like Lebron have an inherent responsibility to lift up their communities. Instead, his last seven years seem contrived in that all his involvement in the community was simply a marketing opportunity, and not his true heartfelt sentiment towards his home state. This a huge slap in the face to Cleveland and the surrounding areas. He should have been more transparent from the start by saying that 1) Win or lose, I will stay because I know what I mean to Cleveland and what my social status means to the community; or 2) Thank you Cleveland for the memories, but its time for me to explore other paths in my journey as a player and a person. He did neither. He showed no loyalty towards Cleveland by protracting the time to announce his decision and in the way he did it. He owes happiness to himself, but he also owes respect to Ohio. It's not only what you do, but how you do it. This circus of free agency visits highlighted that there is very little loyalty in sports. Players become "part" of their communities because it shows them in a positive light and increases their marketability. However, when the time comes, they focus on their selfish needs and rationalize it by saying that it was the best decision for my family. Really? How? Miami and Cleveland are seperated by few thousand miles, not continents. They are part of the same country and same geographic area. So what does Miami offer that Cleveland doesn"t.

    In the end, Lebron's stature is bigger than all other athletes and as such he has a greater responsibility to his city and the community. KG played in Minnesota for majority of his career because he understood his value to the community. Lebron needed to stay in Ohio not only for his good, but for the good of a state that is economically depressed and is in dire need of any upliftment. He not only did not stay, but he also rubbed the salt in the wound in the way he went about planning his exit. The "Decision" could easily have been announced in Cleveland by looking the fans in the face and saying thank you for everything, but now I have to go. I cannot be burdened with being the face of Cleveland and I need to go. This would have made him appear more human and at the same time show that he is not the leader that his made out to be. Dwyane Wade is a leader because he was able to recruit other players without leaving Miami. Lebron despite his star power and perceived leadership, wasn't able to do either. He also shanked in the heart while making his "Decision".

    Nuff said.

  20. downpuppy Says:

    The Cavaliers have always been like the pre-Belichick Patriots. From the incredibly bad originals through the Ted Stepien insanity (when the league had to rescue them from the owner's stupidity) to the Boozer screwup, even when they had a good team the crazy was always just under the surface.

    LeBron gave them 7 years. Cleveland should have nothing to say but "Thanks".

  21. Spree Says:

    Basketball is also about competition! Competition, Neil. It is about teamwork and sacrifice of the individual for the good of the team. It is about that.

    But it is also about competition. Would the league have been better off if Bird and Magic played together? Would they have wanted to play together? No on both counts.

    The best in the world want to compete against the best to test themselves. They don't want to play on a Dream Team professionally. They want to test their skill and their will against the best.

    Why not just throw Russell and Chamberlain on the same team? Why not just put Stockton at the point, Jordan at the 2, Pip at 3, and Malone at four? Sacrifice right? NO!

    This is about competition. LeBron James turned away from the pressure. He turned away from the oppotuntiy to be "The Man". Any choice would have been defensible, but the one he made.

    I dislike Kobe, but do you think he is disappointed by this development? No way. He loves the challenge. He's glad to see the hype for LeBron and Wade. He wants to beat them both. That is a competitor!

    Would Michael Jordan look at Wade and Bosh and think he should play with them or that he should beat them? Would Magic think he should join them or beat them? Bird? Russell?

    The greatest players won't to beat the other greatest players. They don't want to join them.

    LeBron robbed himself of the opportunity to beat the best and he robbed the fans of a chance to witness great rivalry clashes b/w his Bulls/Cavs/Knicks against Wade's Heat.

    Sorry. But this is a sport built on rivalry and compeition and LeBron just didn't want the pressure and the possibility that he'd lose.

  22. Tim Says:

    No player has ever won a championship by themselves. Kobe was ready to leave Los Angeles in 2007, until management assured him they would put better players around him. They got Gasol months later, and all is now well in Laker land. The problem with Cleveland is that they weren't in a position to put better players around Lebron, after Bosh denied them. It's still about competition, but it's about having pieces around you to realistically compete, because without those pieces you saw Jordan fail in the 80s, Kobe fail after Shaq left, et cetera.

  23. Spree Says:

    If they win a title is it really an accomplishment?

    Think about how the Bad Boy Pistons. They came up just short against Boston in 87. Their best player hurts his ankle against LA in 88. Those struggles made 89 and 90 all the sweeter.

    Ditto for Jordan's Bulls when they finally swept the Pistons and won their first ring. There was accomplishment because they experienced the sweet and the sour. The sweet will never be as sweet until you taste the sour.

    You have to risk failure and experience failure for victory to taste as sweet as possible. This Heat team isn't the Celtics. KG wasn't in his prime and walking away from Minnesota. The Minnesota fans even wanted him to get out while he still could by the end of his run. Boston was about three guys coming together at the end of their career after playing on bad teams. Pierce stuck it out in Boston. KG stuck it out in Minnesota beyond reason. They came together at the end with no hostility from anyone.

    This Miami merger is about the path of least resistance. It is about LeBron avoiding pressure. Even if he loses it can't all be on him.

    And if they win next year what is the narrative? What did they overcome?

    I predict right now that they won't win a ring. Whenever people try to avoid the hard roads and grab the sweet without the sour, life has a funny way of smacking them down harder than anyone else. When it sounds too good to be true it is. Get-rich quick doesn't happen.

    THIS TEAM NEVER WINS A RING. Mark it down.

  24. P Middy Says:

    Competition is under the auspices of the Association, not the players. If the Association doesn't want this kind of stuff happening, they'll make a rule. If he's in charge of the integrity of the Association, they'll need to pay him more than $15 million a year.

    I find the argument ridiculous. How many people go out of their way to make their lives more difficult? The man became a free agent so that he could go to the best situation available to him. By his estimation, Miami is that spot. Given something that we see as a perfect opportunity - in terms of money, fulfillment at work and home, being successful- we'd all snatch it in heartbeat. And now LeBron is a heel for it? Foul.

  25. Spree Says:

    He has a right to do whatever he wants. The NBA hasn't needed a rule to stop players from grouping up like this. Because most superstars are more interested in beating the best in the world rather than playing with them. So it has been a self-regulating system.

    LeBron's choice was his to make and he made it. I'm not calling him a heel for it. There are things that it reveals though. He isn't a competitor on par with Kobe, Duncan, Bird, Magic, MJ, Russell, Kareem, etc. He'll never crack any Top 10 of all time.

    His ceiling is now Pippen not Jordan. Just the facts.

  26. Zachary Says:

    I disagree with your opinion on Simmons and his book, but I do agree that if winning is the most important thing, it would be idiotic to try and win a title single-handedly. Name me one NBA champion that was a one-man team. You can't. Russell had a bunch of Hall of Famers. Magic had Kareem. Bird had McHale. MJ had Pippen. Shaq had Kobe, and later Wade. Garnett had Pierce. Kobe had Gasol. Who has LeBron had? Mo Williams? Please. It would be foolhardy to stick with that idiotic organization when he had a chance to join up with a great coach and his talented friends.

  27. John C Says:

    Great post, but doesn't Lebron's media explosion over the last few days still give him that status of being the 'alpha dog'? The decision was one thing, but the fact that he did so apart from his new teammates is entirely another.

    I guess we'll have to wait and see if Miami 10/11 turns out like Boston 07/08, and if Pat Riley will be given the Danny Ainge treatment for this signing.

  28. Jason J Says:

    So when it turned out that Kobe was a great player by 2001, Shaq should have demanded a trade so that he could defeat him instead of teaming up with him? Robinson should have thrown a fit when the Spurs drafted Duncan, right? Because it's about competition. Magic should have told the Lakers he was not interested in playing with them because it would rob him of the opportunity to defeat Kareem?

    I just don't follow that rationale. Where is the line? How good of a teammate is a great player allowed to have before it becomes a cop out? I need a graph.

  29. P Middy Says:

    Miami just traded Beasley for a draft pick. So they've got a little more money to get some players this season.

    I think making proclamations about his legacy while his career is less than half over is premature. He's one of the greatest already, and could very well finish with a number of rings. They're all on 5 year contracts. You don't think that at 30 years old he can go somewhere else and win a ring as he #1 guy?

  30. themojojedi Says:

    I'm a big fan of old school PC adventure games, where sometimes the only way to progress is to spend hours trying to solve some frustratingly obscure puzzle. To help you out, some games give three levels of hints, increasing in specificity such that the first hint is very vague and doesn't give the solution away while the third hint essentially tells you exactly how to solve the puzzle. Its much more rewarding to find the solution on your own, and you feel like you're cheating yourself a bit if you get even the low-level hints, but sometime a hint is necessary to solve the puzzle. If you use the third level hint though you might as well not even be playing the game.

    I think my problem (and that of some others) is that LeBron has spent a 2 or 3 years in Cleveland close to cracking championship puzzle without any hints, but instead of getting a low level hint (re-signing with Cleveland and adding another all-star) or a second level hint (joining a nicely balanced Chicago squad) he bypassed those options and jumped straight to the easy solution provided by the third level hint (Miami with DWade and Bosh). So now the difficulty of solving the championship puzzle just got a whole lot easier (not that winning a championship will ever be easy), and surely that has to be a little less rewarding for someone who has invested so much into winning his first championship.

  31. Anon Says:

    "I dislike Kobe, but do you think he is disappointed by this development? No way. He loves the challenge. He's glad to see the hype for LeBron and Wade. He wants to beat them both. That is a competitor!"

    Oh yes, because we all know it's just Kobe playing ball fir the Lakers right? It's Kobe vs. ________ to Lakers fans, not Kobe + Gasol (best big behind Dwight, and actually had a better season/postseason than Kobe in '10) + a great frontline in Odom/Bynum (even when injured he had an impact) + good supporting cast vs. the league.

    When will basketball fans stop turning these things into "Player X vs. Player Y"? This isn't tennis or golf.

  32. Paul Alexander Says:

    For all these people talking about how LeBron just didn't have enough to put his team over the edge, that team doesn't even approach that edge without LeBron. I'm sorry, I just don't see Mo Williams, Big Z, Anthony Parker, Jamario Moon, Shaq and Jamison sniffing the playoffs let alone pushing the Celtics to 6 games without LeBron. I think the perspective is totally off. Instead of saying that he failed to get them a title, we should be saying how in the hell did he even get them to contend for a Finals. Someone please look at that 2006-07 team, remove Lebron from that list and tell me who else you could plug in and see them reaching the Finals. His starting point guard was Eric Snow for chrissakes! And even if you don't agree with what I'm saying, if you truly love basketball, how in the world could you not be excited about watching LeBron and Dwyane Wade together? Does anyone even like watching the game of basketball? I do! And this is a dream come true in my mind!

  33. Michael David Boyd Says:

    This column is exactly right. The out-of-control wanton hate for LeBron James is the stupidest, most hypocritical thing I've ever seen in sports, narrowly surpassing the "moral outrage" over steroids in baseball circles. The reason for it is that our society is only in the business of trying to destroy heroes now. Not just in basketball, but I think in AMERICA, Michael Jordan was the last public figure who had a concerted effort to build him up rather than tear him down, hence he has become a mythological figure who has managed to become overrated and overhyped despite being the greatest basketball player ever.

    LeBron was in a no-win situation.

    If he had stayed in Cleveland, and failed to win with what would have been one of the 3 or 4 most mediocre rosters to win a championship, people would have called him a loser, and said he lacked Jordan's moxie because he couldn't turn JJ Hickson into Scottie Pippen.

    If LeBron had gone to Chicago (which I do believe was actually a better basketball fit) even after his 4th or 5th ring, he still would be in Jordan's shadow in the eyes of fans.

    And so he went to Miami, and now he is being excoriated for doing what practically everyone has been saying superstars should do--taking less money, setting aside his ego, and now suddenly everyone has done a complete 180 on the basketball values they profess.

    And it's hilarious to me that people are behaving as if LeBron did the Cavs unfairly. Are people forgetting that LeBron already resigned with Cleveland once and gave them three more years to build a team around him, and they gave him Mo Williams, JJ Hickson, and Shaq and Antawn Jamison far past their primes. LeBron's ability has covered for the fact that the Cavs' personnel management has been some of the worst in the NBA. And I'm not even necessarily a LeBron fan--Kobe has been my favorite player for the past 10 years. So I'm not a LeBron lover woho would defend him no matter what. I've been critical of him. He has handled a lot of things imperfectly in the past couple of years, including the hour-long special and many other things. But the response from the public, from the Cavs owner, from the blogosphere, is completely irrational and disproportionate.

  34. AHL Says:

    Haha, look at all this Simmons bandwagon hate.

    Him pointing out his concept of "The Secret" and him pointing out what happens in reality are two different things. It's not a dirty secret, and nowhere does Simmons say it's what they "have" to do to win, it's just what happens realistically and often. I don't see what the contradiction or hypocrisy is here. Citation needed.

  35. Bob Says:

    I think the sympathy for Lebron will be there when the Cavs come up with a hugely sub-par record next year. What he did to make that team look that good is beyond imaginable, there really was not a lot of talent there, half the guys were well past their primes.

  36. Anon Says:

    "I think my problem (and that of some others) is that LeBron has spent a 2 or 3 years in Cleveland close to cracking championship puzzle without any hints, but instead of getting a low level hint (re-signing with Cleveland and adding another all-star) or a second level hint (joining a nicely balanced Chicago squad) he bypassed those options and jumped straight to the easy solution provided by the third level hint (Miami with DWade and Bosh)."

    I like the analogy, but this team isn't even guaranteed to win a title. They still have some things to address, notably on defense (DSMok1 I believe had a nice post the other day about that). They became nice and top-heavy with getting the two best players in the league in 2009-2010, with Bosh being a top 15 player. But they still need to take care of some things with the roster.

    Anyways, the poster above me pretty much nailed it. For a culture that *irrationally* uses rings to rank its players historically (which is something I have always disapproved of), it should be applauding this move -- LeBron is putting himself in in a position to win a title or multiple titles. But whoops, apparently it's in the no-no's of the "Basketball Urban Legend Handbook: How to Be Considered a Great Player by the Media and Casual Fan".

    Where are these dumb, arbitrary rules coming from? Lakers/Kobe fans? (This is not supposed to be a shot a Thermojedi, he's an intelligent poster).

  37. Anon Says:

    EDIT: "The poster above me" I was referring to was #33.

  38. TH Says:

    http://www.stevenlebron.com/2010/07/king-james.html

  39. themojojedi Says:

    "Instead of saying that he failed to get them a title, we should be saying how in the hell did he even get them to contend for a Finals. Someone please look at that 2006-07 team, remove Lebron from that list and tell me who else you could plug in and see them reaching the Finals. His starting point guard was Eric Snow for chrissakes!"

    When you are talking about that 2007 team remember that they primarily generated their wins through defense, while LeBron was the major contributor on offense. In this way they were much like the 2001 Sixers, who also got through a weak conference (by SRS at least) and started strong defender Eric Snow, with LeBron cast as an Iverson Plus. As a rough measure take the percentage of Offensive Win Shares and Defensive Win Shares of total Win Shares. The 2007 Cavs breakdown as 38% O/62% D while the 2001 Sixers were 44% O/56% D. With Iverson taking a similarly styled and structured team to the Finals in 2001 I don't think its unreasonable to suggest that there were other strong offensive players in the league that could have taken that Cavs team to the Finals.

    "Where are these dumb, arbitrary rules coming from? Lakers/Kobe fans? (This is not supposed to be a shot a Thermojedi, he's an intelligent poster)."

    I try not to mention Kobe anymore because it seems to automatically weaken an argument in these parts ;), but I think it does come to some extent from Lakers/Kobe fans who for about 7 years heard moronic rants about how Kobe's titles with Shaq don't count and whenever Kobe's rings are mentioned the words Horry, Havlicek and Pippen are tossed about as superiors. I think we're all intelligent enough to realise that Horry's contribution to winning his championships is not the same as Kobe's or Pippen's. I was thinking about a rough way to quantify a player's total contribution to a ring by breaking the Championship year into regular season and playoffs, and calculating for each the proportion of total team WinShares the player produced. This does a pretty good job at sorting the really dominant star performances (Jordan 91 and more, Shaq 00, Duncan 03, Hakeem 94 at a combined proportion of around 0.6), strong number 1's at around 0.45-0.55 and clear-cut number 2's or leaders of balanced teams like the 89,90,04 Pistons at around 0.3-0.4)

  40. Jay Oh Says:

    I think most people are basically upset with the way he did it. If he went on ESPN with wade + bosh to do a short announcement, that would've been a lot classier. Instead, he created this sensationalist media event that basically came off like a wrestling match. It was very awkward to watch, and really couldn't be taken seriously in my opinion. Hey, maybe that isn't entirely his fault. I'm not really convinced that his "team" surrounding him always has his best interests at heart, regardless of how close they all are.

    In contrast, you look at a player like durant, who did all he could to not make a big deal about his extension. All this guy cares about is playing basketball and winning. He's arguably a top 5 player in the league, yet he's hanging out in orlando at the summer league with his team. Of course lebron is more concerned about his brand, but this was flat out overkill.

    As far as his leaving, maybe "taking the easy way out" is a stretch, but the main point here is that he's giving his role up as "the man" pretty early in his career. Can anyone really deny that at the end of games, there will be some selfishness at play between wade and lebron? It's all about the team, but those 2 still have massive egos. Also, It's beyond me how the cavs front office couldn't land a bosh or amare level big man over the last few years. I don't think there's any doubt that he'd still be in cleveland if that were the case.

  41. AYC Says:

    Lebron vs. Wade was the best individual rivalry in the league but now it's finished; for that reason I'm disappointed; we never got to see them go at each other in a playoff series. I don't see how joining Wade in MIA helps his legacy; right or wrong, the haters will always hold it against him.

    And I don't think turning down all the money he could have made is "unselfish", I think it's DUMB. By the time he's 40 he will probably be done as a player. If he gets hurt it could happen alot sooner. He's the best player and biggest draw in the league; he should be making as much as possible. Lebron would be underpaid even if he got a max contract; in a free market he would make alot more. Idon't get why he wouldn't go to Chicago, a better team that could have paid him. (No, Rose is not overrated; he's young; and if you watched him in the playoffs the last couple years, you saw a player who excels under pressure.)

  42. GoldenStateBull Says:

    I'm of the opinion that even with the big 3, the Miami Heat will not win a title this year. I believe that even with the addition of Mike Miller, they don't have a bench that is capable of maintaining the level of play necessary to win when/if injury strikes, foul trouble, off nights, etc.

    All of these simulations being run and prognostications pondered, I really want to see what the result would have been with LeBron coming to the Bulls. That roster would have instantly been one of the deepest in the East, one or two moves would have elevated the team to heights not seen this decade. Presumably speaking, of course.

  43. JLK1 Says:

    Great stuff here. I just want to point out that the Heat are building a team within the salary cap rules of the NBA, and that it's laughable to me to say that he's playing for some kind of Dream Team or All-Star Team. Some poster above used the analogy of an adult beating a small child at basketball. That just doesn't fit. If the Heat want to use their salary cap space to pay 3 superstars and a bunch of scrubs, then they are free to pursue that strategy. Everyone plays by the same rules.

    In a sense they are exploiting a flaw in the collective bargaining agreement. Max contract players are often underpaid (at least when you're talking about players like James and Wade, and not Joe Johnson), as are rookie scale players. My guess is these two categories will make up most of their payroll. LeBron has tried to win a title on a team that went deep into the luxury tax to pay MLE players and veterans, and that roster didn't work. The Heat are using a different strategy, and if anything the Celtics have already shown that it can succeed, though the Heat may suffer from a lack of quality role players.

    Finally, the idea that his rings will be tarnished because he earned them with great teammates is absurd. NBA history proves that one transcendent player is not enough to win a title, and some of those examples have been brought up here: post-Shaq Lakers, Jordan in the late 80s, Lebron the last 3 years, Kevin Garnett in his prime, Shaq when he played for Orlando. LeBron is clearly focused on winning and he wants to be on a team that can win it all.

  44. Michael David Boyd Says:

    It's funny to me that people talk about how LeBron should have a rivalry with Wade. In 2003, I thought he would be the best player out of that draft and was one of a small group that correctly foresaw his upside. I'm a Wade guy. But in the last 24 hours, nobody is talking about Wade's downsides anymore. It's not like the title has been going through Dwyane Wade. Yes, he has that one ring, but he hasn't won a playoff series in the four seasons since. And Shaq wasn't dominant, btu he wasn't chopped liver in 2006 either. So people are acting like Wade is a Jordan-like figure, and that LeBron is going to team with an all-time great. Wade ain't all that. He can play as well as anyone when he's healthy, this is true, but people seem to be forgetting he's missed 101 games in 7 seasons, and has only been past the second round of the playoffs twice, in 2005 when a lot of people felt Shaq finished 2nd in MVP voting and a lot of people thought he should have won, and in 2006 when they won a title in the most controversially officiated Finals in history. Not to denigrate Wade's performance--he was outstanding and it's no like he should have turned down the foul calls. But let's have some perspective. It's hard to fairly rank Wade because of his injury history, but other than being in the right place at the right time to get the one ring, Wade's level as a player is a lot closer to Bernard King than Michael Jordan.

    I like Wade a whole lot, but people acting like LeBron is cheating by teaming with him doesn't make sense. Wade is great when he's great, but this is not Jordan, Magic and Bird teaming up. Wade and Bosh are not on that level. Even though Wade can play at the level OCCASIONALLY, he hasn't done it CONSISTENTLY because of chronic injuries. Luckily he's been healthy two solid years, and I hope he stays healthy, but players with his history usually don't.

    There is some chance Bosh is not as good as ANY of us think. A lot of players in NBA history have had 20+ averages on mediocre to bad teams and looked like All-Stars and turned out to be just slightly above average players when put on a good team and in big games. Bosh has disappeared in most of the few big games he's been in.

    So the comparisons being drawn with LeBron joining Wade and Bosh are unfair. Do Wade and Bosh constitute a pair of terrific running mates? Sure. But there are plenty of other great players they have to go through to win rings. People are talking like Miami has won the last three titles or been in the Finals 4 of the last 5 years. The title hasn't been going through Miami. The title hasn't been going through Dwyane Wade. I'm not sure why people are talking like that has been the case.

  45. AYC Says:

    To #39, I think your comparison of LBJ in 07 to AI in 01 greatly oversimplifies things. For one thing, this isn't football, where offensive players don't play defense. Lebron was a stellar defender in 07 (5.7 DWS), while AI was never good defensively (4.5 DWS in 01). In the playoffs, the gap between the two only grew; AI had 0.9 DWS in 22 games, while LBJ had 1.6 DWS in 20 games. Lebron also had more OWS (2.1) than AI (1.9) in fewer games.

    The "38% O" number just tells me Lebron's team had worse execution/personnel on offense, meaning LBJ had more to overcome than AI. He responded with better offensive stats and much, much better defense.

  46. Luke M. Says:

    Regardless of how you feel about LeBron leaving (I personally am fine with him going to Miami or anywhere else for that matter, I just find the WAY he did it more than a little distasteful), does anyone else feel like everyone's reactions would be completely reversed if Wade and Bosh were joining LeBron in Cleveland? It seems like everyone, except Heat fans, would praise that as brilliant. I have to believe this "Cleveland betrayal" or the idea that LeBron is joining Wade's team plays a big part in everyone's reactions here. Also, I think the fact that Wade has already won a title plays a big role in this too. It makes it seem like they're not teaming up to help each other win, but that LeBron (and Bosh too - but, honestly, no one really cares about him here) is giving up and just hitching himself to Wade so Wade can carry him to the promised land. Not saying that's what's happening here, at all, but I think that's the way a lot of people are perceiving it.

  47. AYC Says:

    #44, you should check out Wade's advanced stats; they're alot closer to Jordan than Bernard King (what an odd comparison!). And he's been healthy for the last two years, playing 79 and 77 games. I don't think 35 ppg in the finals qualifies as just "being in the right place at the right time"

    PS Like Lebron, Kobe sans Shaq, and MJ in the 80's, Wade couldn't win a series by himself

  48. Michael David Boyd Says:

    The 2001 Sixers also had Dikembe Mutombo, who was 2nd team All-NBA and 1st team all-defense and defensive player of the year that season, a much better player than anyone on the 2007 Cavs besides LeBron. So the Sixers were a better team. I'm not one that hates Iverson,and wants to explain away what he did that year. I think his performance that year was spectacular, one of the best playoff efforts by any player, whether they won the title or not, and I generally think Iverson's flaws, while they are many and serious, get overly emphasized while he doesn't get enough credit for his virtues. But LeBron did more with less in 2007, though, and you're really in hater territory if you can't acknowledge what he achieved that year as historic even in losing in the Finals.

  49. NGNM Says:

    Here http://hangtime.blogs.nba.com/2010/07/09/legends-weigh-in/ former starts like CWebb, Reggie Miller and Sir Charles, although they don't criticize LeBron's choice, all say that at his age they wouldn't have taken this decision.

  50. Michael David Boyd Says:

    AYC, I'm not saying Wade isn't similar to Jordan in terms of stats and style, I'm talking about overall impact. When you look at the year-by year summary of Wade career, it doesn't look like a Jordan or Magic or Bird or other all-time great. I realize in terms of playing style and skills, yes, he's more like Jordan than King, but I'm talking about the LEVEL of player he is, not style or skillset. Just step back and consider Wade's career:

    2004: solid rookie year, but not dominant by any means

    2005: played great, but ended the season hurt and missed a key playoff game and then was hobbled in his team's last playoff game

    2006: played outstanding all year and won title

    2007: injured off and on all year, swept in first round of playoffs putting forth a mediocre performance

    2008: injured off and on all year, didn't finish season

    2009: played MVP level, but still didn't get out of first round (not his fault as Miami didn't have a very good roster, but people hammer McGrady for losing in first round with bad teams. People are comparing Wade to Jordan, but those same people would say Jordan wouldn't lose Game 7 to the Hawks in the first round.

    2010: had up-and-downs in the season and was great overall, but not as good as 2009, and again lost in the first round, although to a more forgivable opponent. Are people already forgetting that Pat Riley was criticizing him for not playing at the same level as 2009 and calling him out for being not in tip-top shape?

    Wade's basically had two thoroughly great seasons (2006 and 2009), and one very very good one (2010). The evaluations I'm hearing of Wade are not consistent with the reality of this resume. And I love him, but we've got to be honest and fair here. The above resume is who Wade is. Not a Jordan-like figure. Not even close. His stats might look somewhat Jordan-like, but so do McGrady's and Vince Carter's. The Jordans and Magics and Birds had their off years here and there too, but they weren't off one out of every two years like Wade's been. Neither are LeBron and Kobe.

    Wade is a great player, one of the best in the league right now, but not what people are making him out to be right now in order to try to put a negative spin on LeBron's choice. Wade has bigger downsides than any of the other players currently considered super-elite, namely his inconsistency due to inability to stay healthy. I mean, how low has the bar been set that we're excited he's been healthy two consecutive years?

  51. AYC Says:

    Like I said, maybe you shold check his advanced stats. Here are Wade's career stats exluding his rookie year:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&type=per_game&per_minute_base=36&is_playoffs=N&year_min=2005&year_max=2010&season_start=1&season_end=-1&age_min=0&age_max=99&height_min=0&height_max=99&lg_id=&franch_id=MIA&is_active=&is_hof=&pos=G&qual=&c1stat=pts_per_g&c1comp=gt&c1val=20.0&c2stat=per&c2comp=gt&c2val=15.0&c3stat=ws_per_48&c3comp=gt&c3val=.100&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&order_by=ws

    His PER of 26.8 would be good for 3rd all-time, behind MJ and Lebron. His WS/48 of .201 would be good for 19th, right behind Bird, ahead of Russell, KG and Kobe. Health has been an issue, but it's the only issue; when healthy, Wade is dominant. By way of comparison, here's Kobe over the same 6 year span:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&sum=1&type=per_game&per_minute_base=36&is_playoffs=N&year_min=2005&year_max=2010&season_start=1&season_end=-1&age_min=0&age_max=99&height_min=0&height_max=99&lg_id=&franch_id=LAL&is_active=&is_hof=&pos=G&qual=&c1stat=pts_per_g&c1comp=gt&c1val=20.0&c2stat=per&c2comp=gt&c2val=15.0&c3stat=ws_per_48&c3comp=gt&c3val=.100&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&order_by=ws

  52. Michael David Boyd Says:

    My friend, I think you missed the point of everything I said. PER doesn't account for injuries and missed games, beyond the fact that PER is fairly useless in terms of determining a player's real-world on-the-court value (PER says Gilbert Arenas is a better player than Jason Kidd. PER says Amare Stoudemire is better than Dwight Howard). PER is the type of stat that belongs in baseball. In the NBA, it is super-unhelpful, unless combined with some real world knowledge and on-court observation. And the real-world knowledge is that 3 out of 7 NBA seasons, Dwyane Wade has ended the season unhealthy. PER doesn't account for that. The real-world reality is that there have been 2 seasons where Dwyane Wade actually was the player that people like to act like he has been the whole time.

  53. Jay Bellavia Says:

    it is not Lebron's fault, but the sportscasters and the media who always say you are not good enough if you don't have rings. You can be the best player ever, but if you don't have a ring,
    you are nothing. That is ridiculous. Many great players in all sports did not get a ring because of the team they were on. You all did it to him!!

  54. JLK1 Says:

    Durability is a knock on Wade. His PER is probably a bit inflated. His usage is really high, partly because he plays on a mediocre team. It's a good thing that he can carry the load like that, a lot of guys can't. The other question is how we view his 2 steals and 1 block per game (his 5 rebounds is also pretty good for a 6'4" guard). PER values those things pretty highly, but do they show that he's a great defensive player, or that he gambles? I have no idea.

    PER aside, every advanced stat you can dream up will rate this guy very highly. Few guards are capable of averaging 30-7-5-2-1 while shooting 47-49% and shooting 10 free throws per game, so anything that looks at box score numbers is going to rate him as an all time great guard.

  55. Theo Says:

    I would like to know why lebron would give up all his amazing stats and ppg?
    Now he's only going to average max 20 ppg, which will put him around 20th in the league.
    Why would he make such a big sacrifice at age 25.
    I can see why the guys in boston did it, they were towards the end of their careers.
    Also if D Wade wins finals mvp (if and when they win) won't that anger lebron.
    How many points do you think all 3 of them will average?

  56. Sean Says:

    If I hear Kobe's named mentioned in the same breath as MJ, Magic, or Bird again I'm going to punch a hole in a wall. Great, great player, but let's stop pretending that he's equal to those guys.

    I feel the same about LeBron, by the way, so no need to accuse me of bias.

  57. huevonkiller Says:

    Sean, I'll accuse you of terrible logic then because LeBron is a lot better than Kobe, Magic, and Bird.

    One of his few rivals is MJ, and now he'll win various rings soon. People are just getting menstrual because he outsmarted them and is checking off all the prerequisites for greatness in extreme fashions.

    Dynasty and future Finals MVPs, check. Stats, check. All-around-game, check (etc.).

    Neil is completely right, this is all about killer instinct if anything. The desire to win over all else. I'll laugh when every year James continues to do more and more since his prime is higher and longer (age) than Wade's.

  58. Michael David Boyd Says:

    JKL1: I think we really overrate small differences in field goal percentage. The practical difference between 45% and 48% for a primary scorer is about 1 shot made or missed every 3 games or so. When you look at it from that perspective, it's really not significant, and could be easily accounted for by the fact that some players tend to hurl the ball toward the opposing baskets at the end of quarters, while others don't. But I really don't think a 2-4% difference in FGP is actually something significant to use as a basis when comparing players. It sticks in my throat to try to call Wade an all-time great. When he's healthy, yes, he's at that level. But there have been a LOT of injury-prone guys who could be spectacular when healthy in NBA history. Maybe Wade is the best of them, but until he runs off like at least 4 out of 5 healthy, great years, I can't put him on that level. That's me. I understand others see it differently.

    Theo, I see Wade and LeBron each averaging 23-26 and Bosh averaging 15-18. Of course, it depends on how they fill out their roster, and if they have other offensively skilled players in the rotation. If they have a few good shooters, then I think you might likely see LeBron and Wade at about 20 and 23, in either order, and Bosh around 14-16. I think LeBron will average 8-9 assists, 12 if he runs the point like I'm hearing rumors that Spoelstra plans (if Spoelstra makes it to opening day).

    It'll be interesting to see how the shots break down between Wade and LeBron. There is some chance The Summer of Hatred that is now ensuing drives LeBron to come out with a murderous desire to put up huge numbers to prove people wrong. But overall, I think both Wade and LeBron have shown that they can be comfortable without shooting the ball a ton, so I don't expect there to be battles over touches with these guys. Surprisingly, if anyone is disgruntled about touches, I think it is most likely to be Bosh.

    In the end, NBA history has been that if you win rings, fans and media forgive all. In the space of 18 months in 1989 and 1990, a ringless Michael Jordan got his coach fired, punched a teammate in practice, whined about needing more help, nicknamed his general manager "Crumbs", and cruelly and ruthlessly destroyed teammate Stacey King in the media, all while losing to the Pistons twice in the playoffs. Three years later, all was forgiven and he was unquestioned as the greatest player in the game. Six years later, he was pretty much unquestioned as the greatest player of all time, and nobody even talked about his surly years until after he had retired (and people barely mention it still). If LeBron wins rings, regardless of who scores what and who takes what shots, as long as he continues to play at approximately the same level of skill as he has, in a few years, everyone will be singing his praises again.

  59. andre Says:

    How many times have we seen teams line up players for tryouts and cut all but a few? This time, a player had all the power, the tables were turned. And Dan Gilbert gave voice to the dying gasp of owners from the Oscar Robertson era, when you took whatever scraps the team gave you. He thought he owned Lebron for life, and Lebron proved that you can't own another man. What LeBron did was amazing, and Curt Flood or Oscar would be proud. I just can't figure out why the public isn't supporting Lebron for this, when he did what he had every right to do, and stuck it to the ownership establishment like no other player before. He should be regarded as a hero.

  60. NYChris248 Says:

    Everyone please stop repeating that he gave up money with this decision. The lack of Florida state income tax also applies to his endorsement money.

    He is sacrificing nothing financially to make this happen.

  61. Anonymous Lurker Says:

    To me, it seems like a purely financial decision. If he truly wanted to win, CHI seems like the best fit. I heard that after taxes, he'd make more money in FL even after a pay cut than in CLE. Still, like a lot of other people, I think it was the way he did it that was so despicable. He should have at least returned Dan Gilbert's calls and met with a potential coach like he did with all the other teams. He gave everyone else a chance except his hometown which makes him a hypocrite. All that talk about loyalty, and even a tattoo, yet he snubbed the city that supported him for so long.

    On the basketball side of things, I'm looking forward to seeing what kind of players they can get. I'm sure a lot of people will go for the minimum for a chance to get a ring. It'll also be interesting to see what moves the Cavs will make to rebuild.

  62. Ricardo Says:

    Like everyone else, I'm viewing this situation from the outside and through my own prism. I cannot get in Lebron James' head, so I look at this from the perspective of what I would do in his shoes.

    I'm an NBA dork. I am also a sports dork. And if I was Lebron James, I would look at this situation from a historical perspective:

    1) In seven seasons I have established myself as the best player in the history of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise. This feat is easier to accomplish on some franchises than on others, but to accomplish the feat at all is extraordinary. I'm proud of that.

    2) However, my job isn't done. I feel like I could only leave Cleveland if I delivered a championship, and I haven't done that yet. Some other player could be the first Cleveland superstar to deliver the championship, and that bothers me if I leave now that we've been so close.

    3) I love the idea of playing for one franchise for my whole career. Unless the situation deteriorates here, I want to play an entire career in one uniform, for one franchise.

    Again, I cannot emphasize enough how little I know about locker room difficulties or personal dramas or crazy hometown fans. I only know how I would go about it, and I would feel like I'd be leaving some unfinished business behind for leaving - therefore, I wouldn't leave.

  63. robinred Says:

    Nicely done, Neil.

    Another humorous aspect of this is people, including Simmons, glorifying Kobe BECAUSE he has done it wwith "his team" after trashing him back in 2005 BECAUSE he didn't want to play Beta to Shaq's Alpha.

    Crazy stuff, but predictable.

  64. Pageup Says:

    1. for a guy that wants to and expects to make a billion dollars, who has friends like Buffet, money isn't the issue here and it never was (he's probably already made 200 mil)

    2. in nature alpha dogs don't and in fact refuse to share the bounty with other alpha dogs and probably especially on another alpha dog's territory

    3. in this process he put so much attention on himself, he wanted to put so much on himself, that from here there's no ejection seat he can use to bail out with

    4. if he thinks he's going to win 5 rings, or even 2 or 3, with these guys he's not as smart as i thought he was

    5. as I said in another blog, if Wade gets injured he's done

    6. I still don't think Miami's getting out the east next year, and in my opinion the Lakers still have the best team (and I'm a Celtics fan)

  65. Josh Says:

    Hear, hear!

    I think fans (Simmons is especially guilty of this) make a big mistake when they try to make the results of a game or season mean something besides a way of determining which team is better at playing basketball. Basketball is about basketball, not psychosexual subtext.

  66. Bob Says:

    I see a FG% spike for LeBron and Wade, with Wade approaching 50% and Lebron pushing around 52-53%. Wade I see putting up 24 ppg with 4 boards and 4 assists. LeBron, if running the point, will probably get 24 with 7 boards and 10 assists. If they work him as a dominant scorer, I can see him still getting 28 7 and 7. Bosh will likely be around 16-18 ppg.

  67. donnie Says:

    I agree with Josh. Some poeple just spend too much time in armchair psychology over basketball players. I heard it would have been totally different for LBJ if Wade and Bosh had come to Cleveland. So they're saying a LBJ/DWade/CBosh team would be different from, what exactly, a LBJ/DWade/CBosh team? Its the same team people! How does it change it based on where they play!

    This psychological talk has to stop. They're grown men playing a childs' game. They just get paid millions to do it.

  68. a lurker Says:

    The best competitors do not team up with their rivals, they want to beat the bloddy hell out of their rivals in order to validate themselves.

    Lebron's decision to team up with Wade & Bosh is his to make, but it is disappointing from an NBA perspective for 2 main reasons:

    1. He cowardly ran from a challenge whether it was in Cleveland, NYC, or Chicago to be the clear cut #1 guy and win a title for the chance to alleviate pressure.

    2. With Wade being a crutch he will never have to push himself to the limits of his talent potential and us fans will never see how truly great a player he could be. He will no longer develop that post game we so long for or improve his footwork or mid-range game. With a team so stacked in the long-run he won't need to hone his skills.

    It's a shame.

  69. Spree Says:

    5 rings in Miami won't equal the historic impact of one in Cleveland or really even one in New York.

    This whole thing is a symbol of the fast food slap happy culture we live in. A culture where Paris Hilton can be famous for simply being famous has given us an NBA team of least resistance. Why try and beat Wade when you can join him? Oh I don't know...because you think you're the best and that you don't need him?

    People are also blinded by fantasy ball. At this stage, there are people that really believe you can just throw a group of guys together and if they win a fantasy league they could win a title.

    There is more to it than that. What Miami is trying is akin to a company trying to build a car with three engines and no wheels or frame. You aren't going anywhere, but you sure have some horsepower!

    Teams need guys to have roles and jobs. Wade, LBJ, and Bosh have played the same role their whole career. Now we want Bosh to handle rebounding and shot blocking while Wade is a pure shooter and LBJ is the point-forward? And people just expect them to seamlessly slide into these roles they've never had? These are humans not robots.

    And who does the dirty work? It isn't a given that a team finds the right mix of role players with confidence enough to step up in key moments, skill enough to maintain a rhythm with no shots or playing time, and humility to completely accept a background role.

    We think this is easy to do because we only remember the teams that win. We forget how many "can't miss" teams on paper lost on the court because of chemistry issues or disappearing role players.

    The Portland Trail Blazers of 2000 were a team that couldnt lose until they could because no one could step up and be Alpha dog.

  70. a lurker Says:

    "And as I argued on Wednesday, it's not just winning championships that matters: it's how you do it. The narrative would write itself if James brought a championship home to Cleveland, or to a lesser extent to Chicago or New York. Miami, on the other hand, is already being branded as the 'easy way out', and the expectations that may rival those of the 1992 Dream Team. In the public's mind, James might need to win several titles there to equal what one could have done for him in Ohio.

    In the meantime, there are signs that public opinion on James has soured significantly. In an unscientific poll conducted by SI.com, 81 percent of respondents now claim to have a negative opinion of James, whereas 78 percent had a positive opinion prior to free agency."

    I think it's silly that people want to act as if everyone has been waiting in the wings to bash Lebron. And outside of Simmons, everyone at ESPN is defending Lebron like they are Baghdad Bob. The "alternative media" seem to be the ones pushing the negative viewpoint which is driven by the initial fan reaction.

  71. themojojedi Says:

    "But LeBron did more with less in 2007, though, and you're really in hater territory if you can't acknowledge what he achieved that year as historic even in losing in the Finals."

    It was very impressive no doubt, particularly at his age and level of experience, but I think to call it "historic" is wandering into fanboy territory. His Game 5 against Detroit was historic, but the 2007 Pistons are the only good team they defeated in the playoffs that year (and during his entire stay in Cleveland for that matter). My standard for historic is higher than beating 2 41 win, negative SRS teams, winning one series against a good team before getting swept by the real heavy hitters from the Western Conference.

  72. Ray Says:

    Great article, Neil. Couldn't agree more.

    Kobe cheated on his wife and may or may not have committed rape in the process. Ron Artest jumped into the stands and attacked fans. Both have been redeemed in the public eye by the passage of time and the winning of titles. So people (outside of Cleveland) WILL get over yet another free agent leaving the team that drafted him and making a soap opera of it.

    All three of these guys have endured losing seasons and bitter disappointments. Despite playing like a madman, LeBron fell short in '07, '08, and '09. Between a possible injury and the buzzsaw known as the 2010 playoff Celtics, he once again fell short this year, although he still played very well overall. And apparently, his (now former) team's owner apparently has a few screws loose in his head.

    Bosh has missed the playoffs, sometimes getting painfully close, five of his seven years in the league, all spent in the invisible-to-American media market of Toronto, under management that doesn't really know the value of a dollar (or playing defense).

    And Wade, of course, had to live through a 15 win season and consecutive first round exits the last three years. Make no mistake, all these guys went through ridiculous levels of frustration for the majority of what will prove to be just under half their NBA careers.

    The easy way out would have been foregoing extensions in '06 and signing together then and there. Are we only supposed to commend players for setting aside egos and joining forces when they are old and full of regret over wasted time and youth? Shouldn't we value and applaud foresight and carefully considered career/life planning?

    And why do LA, Chicago, and Boston get a free pass on loading up on talent, to say nothing of monopolizing most of the titles since 1980? Because they have more history? Well, what's wrong with making history rather than living in its shadows?

    Plus, don't sell teams like OKC short. Miami's new Big 3 know that there are always up and comers, potential injuries, and other unforeseen circumstances that make nothing a guarantee. As friends, they made the decision to cement a collective legacy rather than each seeking individual glory and probably only getting a taste of it before inevitably having it taken away by the next big name.

    I will never defend the classless way LeBron handled his departure from Cleveland -- but else what can you expect when a kid is plucked straight out of high school, given $100 million by a shoe company before ever playing a game of pro ball, and immediately anointed the savior of an entire city and region? He still has a lot of growing up to do, but maybe making this clean break will help him.

    Nothing else about what these guys have done is remotely wrong or deserving of scorn. Some people need to get a grip. We're going to be treated to three of the game's best talents doing what they do best without having to worry about boring double teams. It's going to be fun, beautiful basketball, the kind that LA and Boston were often capable of this season when they played with focus and passion. I can't wait to watch.

  73. BrianAu Says:

    I agree that Jordan changed our perspective on not only winning championships but how they are won (who was the Man etc..) but I still find it interesting when Neil and other Lebron supporters (Matt Moore, Michael Smith prominent among them) come up with this idea of unselfishness for a player who not only hijacked a city, ESPN, and a league all for his own ego. Unselfish? Really? Can we honestly say that this trio of players are not as egotistical and narcissistic as any athletes we have seen? Wade with his own documentary crew no less. Now this is sports and really it does not matter overly much if they can perform on the court. But this idea that these guys can put away their egos and play selfless team ball. Not sure. Wade and Lebron need the ball in their hands. This years playoffs showed Lebron standing on the wing doing nothing when he did not have it. People talk about the 2008 Olympic team and this is also ironic. With Kidd and Kobe, they pulled it out. Do we not remember the earlier USA team which played miserably with these same guys on it? Either way it will be fascinating to watch them play and see if it is successful (my guess this year no but next year with additional exemptions yes). But please spare us all the unselfishness angle. Lebron does not warrant it any more (save it for Durant who I hope wins more than Lebron). And as for comparisons, really this is more like ARod going to Jeter's Yankees.

  74. b_ryan Says:

    This is what basketball fans get for putting so much emphasis on championships as an individual stat. I hope everyone is happy, because Lebron did this for you.

  75. Jason J Says:

    I can get the Arod / Jeter comparison on the surface, but I think the problem is people are treating this like it's 2007. The Heat are not the Yankees. Even before they gutted the roster, they weren't very good. If LeBron had somehow convinced the Cavs to trade him to the Lakers for Odom and Artest, then yeah, he'd be Arod, Kobe would be Jeter, and he'd be joining the Yankees like a common mercenary out for cash and easy victory. That's not what happened.

  76. Jason J Says:

    2006. Sorry. Forgot the Heat jumped off a cliff after they won the title.

  77. Anon x 2 Says:

    "This is what basketball fans get for putting so much emphasis on championships as an individual stat. I hope everyone is happy, because Lebron did this for you."

    Pretty sure he made it clear he did this for him.

  78. themojojedi Says:

    "Pretty sure he made it clear he did this for him."

    He even referred to himself in the third person multiple times just so we were extra clear about it!

  79. Gil Meriken Says:

    Well, I've been consistent. I saw nothing wrong with Kobe wanting to strike out on his own back in 2005. He wanted to win ... as the main guy. He had already won three titles with Shaq, but he wanted now to do it as the main focus. Lebron did not want that challenge. So, I've never stuck by the "winning is everything" mantra. I think winning the way as the main guy (if you've got the goods) is much more satisfying. The more you contribute to success the more satisfying it is. The ones who get excoriated are the ones who don't have the talent or don't put in the work, and try to bite off more than they can chew. People used to think that of Kobe. They don't anymore (at least, outside the advanced stat community) because he won as the main guy (except for within the stat community that say Pau Gasol was the main guy, or very close to it).

    You DO get more credit for doing more heavy lifting and win the title. You also get marked down if you try to do more heavy lifting than you can do and you don't succeed. You even get knocked down for not doing much heavy lifting and still winning.

    No one wants to see a movie where the protagonist has little or no obstacles. We also don't want to see a film about a person without the necessary skills to attempt to achieve a goal and fail miserably. But we do want to see the guy who overcomes great obstacles, maximizes his potential, and succeeds.

    If this "superteam" of Miami is as great as they believe themselves to be, the best thing for all of them to do would be to put on the appearance of struggle during the playoffs, but still win. If they go fo', fo', fo', fo', they will be reviled everywhere but Miami.

  80. Anon x 2 Says:

    I agree with you Gil.

    the only thing I question is if Lebron can recover from his demonstration last night. It was despicable and cannot be criticized enough. He embodied the ugly side of sports we never want to see.

    I mean, the dude is a grown man. he can go wherever he wants and sacrifice legacy for money or fame or titles or just having fun. That's cool. But show some god damn empathy in the process. Cleveland didn't deserve to be spit up and chewed out in that manner. Holding the team hostage, teasing them, then making this ridiculously narcissistic filled special to announce your leaving? sigh.

    Kind of what disappointed me about Neil's post here is the lack of commentary about that. After a night when Lebron drags and entire city through the mud for no good reason, Neil yells at those who want to criticize him, instead (I wonder if Neil still thinks we can't get in his mind about quitting vs Boston...). As fans, we all know in the back of our minds that these athletes generally don't care that Neil here runs this website and perhaps spends a month's salary to go watch these players play beyond the fact that he or we are paying. But for the love of god, at least fake it. Just pretend like you give a damn about our feelings and that you understand what this means (and yes, sports does mean something).

    I came away last night more cynical and completely jaded towards sports. Never thought I'd see that display last night.

    Did Lebron hurt his legacy? Did he give himself a chance to enhance it? Did he just want to play with his friends or did he sacrifice money for glory?

    I don't have the answers to those questions and I suppose we could debate them. What I do know after last night is he couldn't give a rat's ass about you or I in any way, shape, or form....not even enough to pretend that he did.

  81. Anon x 2 Says:

    As far debates on his legacy and motive for his decision, I thought Michael Rosenberg of SI wrote an interesting piece.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/michael_rosenberg/07/08/lebron.event/#ixzz0t9mMuDXd

    "The first time I watched LeBron James live, I thought he could be the greatest player ever. The sad truth for us, for him, and for the NBA is that he never really believed it himself."

  82. Anon x 2 Says:

    One more quick mention.

    It felt like I hope up in bizarro world yesterday. Message boards and media praising Kobe and bashing Lebron. Boston, Kings, and Blazer fans saying they'd for LA against Miami should that be the Finals and LA fans rooting for Boston against Miami.

    truly something I never thought I'd ever experience. Boston and LA fans rooting for each other!? Wow. And this was despite ESPN's best efforts at damage control.

    I wonder if any athlete has ever soured massive adulation in an instant like Lebron. Tiger perhaps? I don't follow golf enough to know and well, i know a bunch of male friends who have a certain perspective that isn't so negative. I mean, obviously there's O.J., but let's keep it among players still playing. I know Favre took a bi dip recently, but nothing seemingly like this.

    Up is down and down is up.

  83. Anon x 2 Says:

    hope = woke. far too late in the evening for me. :)

  84. Neil Paine Says:

    I've stayed out of the discussion so far simply because there isn't much left to say that hasn't already been said, but I want to make it clear that I was not defending James' TV special or the manner in which he conducted himself through this entire process, and I wasn't yelling at those criticizing the way he made "the decision". The ESPN show was a huge mistake, I thought it was profoundly depressing & difficult to watch, and I don't think there's a person in the country who didn't come away thinking, "Wow, I like this guy a lot less as a human being now."

    I am willing to vociferously defend the basketball aspect of the decision, though, because I think the people crowing about "damage to his legacy" and "cries for help," are hypocrites if at any time in the past they lauded team play and on-court sacrifice as the keys to being a winner. What LeBron did from a basketball standpoint was the opposite of selfish: despite being the best player in the game, he went to another city, joining forces with another superstar -- not to mention Bosh -- in order to contribute to a championship and be happy while doing it (gee, remember when basketball was supposed to be fun?). He's still the best player in the league, and no pop-psychology babble about "killer instinct" is going to change that fact... He simply followed the logical path laid out by every ring-crazed sportswriter who ever put pen to paper.

    In fact, whoever said something to the effect of "be careful what you wish for" in relation to the media's emphasis on championships was dead-on. I think the writers espoused that for so long as part of their never-ending quest to graft a quasi-puritanical sense of morality onto a game (in fairness, stories are easier to write that way), but they never actually expected someone to take it this far. Now that it's happened, they have no idea what to do with themselves. All that cognitive dissonance was easy enough to block out when they could praise "alpha dog" selfishness out of one side of their mouth and humble, ball-sharing sacrifice out of the other... But now that the two worlds have collided? Uh-oh.

  85. Neil Paine Says:

    #79. So Gil, just so I can get this straight -- when Kobe and Shaq break up a dynasty and leave several more potential championships on the table because of ego, that's okay? But LeBron and Wade sacrificing individual numbers and glory in order to win a championship together, that's not okay?

    I'm pretty sure your mentality is exactly what I was ranting about.

  86. Matt Says:

    What strikes me most about the anti-LeBron tirades are so many of the comparisons -- not just to Michael, but more curiously and strikingly to names like Magic and Bird.

    What's problematic about those players on this level is that they played in the big markets and on loaded teams for the majority of their respective careers. Yet now, in the retroactive deification of "Legacy" Bird and Magic CARRIED teams with names like Worthy, Kareem, McHale, Walton, McAdoo, Johnson et cetera, et cetera.

    Let's be real. The problem even with that statement is that certain names in the NBA's history are so canonized as to be beyond analysis. At least for most fans.

    Ironically, what elevates so many names is, simply, winning.

    No matter what's said now, LeBron's legacy will be much better off having won multiple titles in Miami rather than continue to toil, most likely in a futile fashion, in Podunk, Ohio.

  87. Matt Says:

    Just to add to that, look at names like Baylor, Barkley, Malone, Stockton if you don't believe me.

    All-time great players. But more and more forgotten, particularly Stockton.

    Any guesses why? Yeah, lack of titles.

    Malone can't crack a top ten list for all-time players, though his career accolades, longevity and playing ability point towards such a strata for him. The only thing missing is a title, but that nukes the entire proposition of Karl as a top ten player for most people.

    Or Baylor. Anybody wonder why Jerry West is so revered, while Elgin often gets left off of top 20 lists?

    To be Quixotic is romantic in many ways. But it's also tragic, and often so in the context of clownishness -- either for the subject or from the standpoint of those doing the judging of the selfsame tragic figure.

    That is to say, Bill Simmons' best comedic value is not strained pop culture analogy, but the basketball analysis he tries to cover for with such referencing.

  88. Pageup1000 Says:

    "No matter what's said now, LeBron's legacy will be much better off having won multiple titles in Miami rather than continue to toil, most likely in a futile fashion, in Podunk, Ohio."

    Yo Matt, you talk like they already have the rings, this is why you have to play the game, all the stats and speculations are meaningless, if they can get through the Celts and Bulls and Magic and Hawks they'll get a shot at the Lakers...

    And Podunk, OH is a very nice place to live...

  89. themojojedi Says:

    "#79. So Gil, just so I can get this straight -- when Kobe and Shaq break up a dynasty and leave several more potential championships on the table because of ego, that's okay? But LeBron and Wade sacrificing individual numbers and glory in order to win a championship together, that's not okay?

    I'm pretty sure your mentality is exactly what I was ranting about."

    I think Gil appears to have applied an internally consistent and coherent value system, it just happens to be different to your value system.

    The one he's presented seems to value star players finding an optimal trade-off between team success and their degree of individual contribution to team success. The Vince Lombardi perspective values only the degree of team success and places no value on the degree of individual contribution to team success. Nothing wrong with that either. You've rightfully been ranting about inconsistent and hypocritical value systems.

    Personally I think the more instrumental you are in achieving a goal, the more rewarding and impressive it is.

  90. Chuck Says:

    The only issue I think most people have is in the way Team LeBron, given it's relative niavety and plain lack of foresight as to how many would react, handled the situation. ESPN looked downright silly as well.

    Talk of legacy, player comparisons, etc are just that, talk. Had a player like Barkley or Malone been in a similar situation, either would have been hard-pressed to turn the opportunity down.

    As it stands, this group of players (can't call four signed people a team yet) and the Heat organization, depending on subsequent additions, have a chance to cement their collective legacy as the greatest basketball team ever.

    Finally, where does this place Pat Riley in the pantheon of basketball businessmen?

  91. Ray Says:

    Kobe shoots 6 for 24 in Game 7, but nobody says he gave up.

    We all know about his adventures in Eagle, Colorado.

    He evicted Shaq after making the finals four out of five years (winning three times) so he could be "the man."

    And yet he's basically been absolved of all his sins.

    Look, I like Kobe, but that's the truth. Having a lanky Spaniard help you win a pair of championships doesn't change any of that.

    Anyway, yes, LeBron's legacy will be reshaped, and he'll probably go down as the Big O (meets Dr. J) of our generation rather than the heir to MJ's throne.

    But while he'll look back one day and feel regret for how he handled the situation, he'll be vindicated by professional success and the over-the-top vitriol he had to endure for choosing to be part of a TEAM where the chemistry is already an established fact, and with whom he can create a new storied NBA franchise, rather than being an "alpha dog" in Chicago, a mascot for Cleveland's eternal woe, or chasing the big lights of New York.

    Time heals all wounds, and objectively speaking the wounds inflicted here pale in comparison to what countless other athletes, politicians, and other public figures have done, to say nothing of individuals I'm sure we all know in our personal lives.

  92. Joel Says:

    If Lebron had gone about this the Drew Bledsoe way; no spectacle, a full-page ad thanking the fans of Cleveland for supporting him, and making it work in Miami, the narrative would have been totally different.

    But he didn't do it that way, ergo the (richly deserved) criticism. He's become the league's ultimate "heel" and I look forward to seeing how he handles this transformation.

  93. Joel Says:

    Addendum to my previous post:

    It really is that simple. Enough with the strawmen.

  94. Ray Says:

    Drew Bledsoe had been part of bringing New England a ring. And he had a golden boy heir apparent.

    Is that's what's bothering Cleveland fans most? That he didn't bring home a ring? Well, that would mean they too value championships above all else. And that begs the question, is there any reason LeBron owes the Cavs a ring more than he has a right to compete for one (and more) elsewhere? Is it because the ping pong balls landed the native son in his hometown team, locking him in until he somehow brings the city "salvation"?

    Again, nobody is debating the way LeBron announced this. But once people get over the how, there's no changing the what/where/why. Since we all agree on the former, the discussion should focus on the latter. And that's when it becomes clear that the rage is cartoonish and out of place.

  95. joe Says:

    His best shot at winning was in Chicago, and he'd have been the man there. He may win in Miami but, at best, he just turned in the Lone Ranger mask and became Tonto, like A Rod winning on Jeter's team. He wants a ring but he wants to piggyback his way to it.

  96. Joel Says:

    Let's discuss the criticism of the alpha male mentality, then.

    Because, for a long time, Lebron has been the chief proponent of his own alpha status. For years now, he has been relentlessly promoting it. How else do you explain this kind of stuff: "LeBron James is running around recruiting college kids to his marketing company. He picks up the phone, tells them, “This is the King,” and makes his pitch to be represented in his stable." (Wojnarowski, May 12).

    But now, all of the sudden, he wants to be an ensemble guy and a winner, and his critics shouldn't hold him accountable to his self-perpetuated alpha status? I call nonsense on that. Lebron is no more king than Puyi.

  97. P Middy Says:

    "5 rings in Miami won't equal the historic impact of one in Cleveland or really even one in New York."

    Right. That's why everyone widely considers the 1977 Blazers to be more an important squad than the 90s Bulls or the current Lakers. Or the 00s Spurs. Can you even name someone besides Bill Walton on that team without looking it up? Did you know who the hell Bill Walton was before he started announcing?

    99.99% people care about what happens and how, rather than where. In the long view, nobody gives a crap where the retired greats did their thing. I mean, have you SEEN the Jordan jerseys in NYC? After he spent the better part of a decade ripping the Knicks apart? If the Heat win 5 rings, the books will show that James lifted the Cavs way past their potential for 7 years, and with real talent then broke through in Miami to become one of the greatest winners ever. He'd be in the discussion with Magic, Bird, Kobe, and Jordan. If he only wins 1 ring somewhere, anywhere, he'd be in the conversation Oscar Robertson. You can park a Hummer in the distance people put him and those other guys.

  98. Anon Says:

    e may win in Miami but, at best, he just turned in the Lone Ranger mask and became Tonto, like A Rod winning on Jeter's team. He wants a ring but he wants to piggyback his way to it.

    This can be said about, oh, I don't know, EVERY champion player in NBA history.

    Baseball fans aren't that stupid either. They KNOW that team efforts are needed to win rings. Only in basketball are people dumb enough to actually believe that one player wins championships all by his lonesome. Perhaps that's the by-product of the MJ era, because he was certainly truly spectacular, but somewhere I'm pretty sure Pip, Rodman, Grant, Kerr, Paxson et. al. would beg to differ on the "MJ and *his* six rings" myth.

    You can definitely be the best player on your title team, but enough with the nonsense. The Heat won't win this title if LeBron doesn't do his thing. Same with Wade and Bosh, and also the Heat's roleplayers.

  99. Anon x 2 Says:

    So, you'd all be cool with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard joining up with them next season (assuming the logistics make it possible) for an all-nba starting 5?

    Isn't there a line that needs to be drawn at some point?

  100. P Middy Says:

    Lines are for the Association front office to draw. Not relevant to James or his decision.

  101. Anon x 2 Says:

    I think they're relevant when we're talking about how we perceive one's legacy and pertinent to the current discussion.

  102. Anon Says:

    "Personally I think the more instrumental you are in achieving a goal, the more rewarding and impressive it is."

    Certainly agreed here, but at some point I think you also have to be James was truly making his Cavs teams alot better than they really were. They're not a bad cast by ANY means, but I think you'd be peeved too if every playoffs your team's 2nd best player (Mo Williams) kept putting up average WS/48 min and SPM numbers when you need him to be playing like he does during the regular season. If you had an opportunity to turn that player into your neal equal in D-Wade, well, why NOT go for it?

    He certainly could've gone about this differently, but James said he wants to win a title, and he's lo and behold...he's setting himself up to win one or several. Can't fault him for that imo.

  103. Anon x 2 Says:

    Could have gone to Chicago with Noah, Boozer, and Rose. I think they'd have been the favorites in at least the East next season.

  104. sharkie002 Says:

    I think people forget that Lebron's only 26 years old. Judging from their playing styles and age, I'm going to assume Lebron will play a minimum of 5 or 6 years longer after Wade retires. So even when Lebron gets his rings in Miami, he'll probably be in position to grab a few more without Wade. He has plenty of time to carve out his NBA legacy before its over. Why waste it in Cleveland trying elevate a team with no future, where year after year his ability to win big games is questioned...?

  105. AYC Says:

    People are acting like it was an either/or situation between MIA and CLE, but that's not the case; Chicago was the ideal basketball situation for Lebron to join. They have 2 all-stars like MIA, plus an established roster, something MIA doesn't yet have. (All these win projections are premature since we don't know who two thirds of the Heat roster will be). Lebron had the chance to go to a stacked team, get fully paid, AND be "The Man" (in Jordan's city no less) but he shrunk from the challenge, to play with his buddies. I am a fan of both Wade andf Lebron, but I'm disappointed.

    PS I am a Celtics fan, and no way would I root for LA (or the Knicks) over MIA; if you would root for LA out of spite for LBJ, you aren't a real celtics fan IMO

  106. Joel Says:

    Right. That's why everyone widely considers the 1977 Blazers to be more an important squad than the 90s Bulls or the current Lakers.

    Well, considering that the Bulls drafted their two best players, assembling all the role players by various means, I don't think that analogy holds. Of course, you'd also have to ignore the fact that the spectacle created by Lebron et al. before the signing, and the even greater spectacle thereafter is unprecedented.

  107. Jason J Says:

    When did Wade become better than LeBron James? Was it this summer after the playoffs ended, and I just didn't get the memo? Did you guys see Wade beat LeBron in 6 straight one on one matches? Bron switched from being the Lone Ranger to Tonto? That makes no sense. LeBron is better. I don't even think it's debatable.

    The cream rises, and, if this team is successful in forming a dynasty, LeBron will most likely be the player we remember as its most important, particularly because he's younger than Wade and likely to be great while Wade is fading. As we've seen with Shaq and Kobe, the generation that doesn't really remember their titles together just sort of anoints Kobe with an equal share in those rings anyway. Hell, how can they picture Shaq's slow, skill-impaired game ever having been better than Bryant's? It's only natural.

    As Scoop Jackson correctly points out in an ESPN article today, the best comparison here is MVP Moses Malone leaving Houston for Phili to win a ring with Dr. J. Julius may have been the local hero and spokesman, but Moses was the better player and the bigger reason that ring was won, and when people rank basketball players or do all-time fantasy drafts or what have you, Moses usually outranks Doc (I didn't get to see either of them at their best, so I can't really voice an opinion on that particular debate).

  108. P Middy Says:

    "Well, considering that the Bulls drafted their two best players, assembling all the role players by various means, I don't think that analogy holds. Of course, you'd also have to ignore the fact that the spectacle created by Lebron et al. before the signing, and the even greater spectacle thereafter is unprecedented."

    Two things. First, my point sarcastically spoke to the notion that 1 ring in city X is more important than 5 rings in city Y. Which is about as stupid a thing as I've heard during this whole debacle. There's no analogy there, I'm stating historical facts. The dynasties are celebrated and adored in the record books. The one-timers are footnotes.

    Is your point that assembling a team through free agency, versus drafts and trades is somehow a less valid procedure? I can't down with that. They're all part of the process of bringing talent to your organization, and if you don't use all the tools available, then you're failing as a GM.

    Second, The Decision, I'm talking about the one hour special, is indefensible. I don't think anyone is saying he handled the announcement the right way. That said, when the most talented player in the game decides to play with the second most talented player in the game, that seems like a pretty good idea to me. For both of them.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    I go back and forth on whether Chicago is the better location. Do you HAVE to double Boozer? Or Noah? Or Rose? Because you HAVE to double LeBron, and you HAVE to double Wade.

  109. Joel Says:

    My point is that, for myriad reasons, Lebron James' accomplishments can never be compared to Jordan (or Bryant). This is largely context and independent of whether you or anyone else thinks this is fair.

    Already, I can imagine that Lebron James' popularity has taken the kind of swing that Brett Favre's did after signing with Minnesota. That doesn't apply to Jordan and the most analogous comparison would be Kobe's rape indictment which is truly apples to oranges.

  110. boombaby Says:

    Oh right, that totally makes sense. Kobe wins 3 rings with the best center ever, sulks, commits an alleged rape, forces Shaq out, takes down a dynasty out of selfishness, brings a horrible supporting cast on himself, loses again and again, whines and complains to management for more help, tries to force a trade out of LA, finally gets the most skilled big man in the game, and what a coincidence, they start winning again!

    Yes, his accomplishments will never be compared to Lebron James's.

  111. P Middy Says:

    The thing about Favre is that he does it every off-season. This (so far) is a one time deal with Bron, and won't happen again for another five seasons if it does happen again. I'd put dollars to donuts that everyone except the folks in Ohio will have forgotten about all of this by the All Star break.

  112. P Middy Says:

    Shit, even the people in Wisconsin have learned to forgive and/or forget Burt Favre. And I'm telling you, the vitriol here over Farve going to the Vikings outweighed even Dan Gilbert's venom.

  113. Jason J Says:

    I think people also have a problem with the fact that LeBron, Wade, and Bosh basically circumvented the normal free agency process whereby simple capitalism and lust for gold jewelry vie for players' loyalty. This summer those three stripped GMs of the power to attract them with the largest offer (staying put) or the easiest road to a title where you get near the largest offer (Chicago for any combination of two of them).

    In the most ass way possible, and I mean it was really bad - like possibly decided 3 years ago and confirmed when James announced how much he liked Riley's decision to retire Jordan's number and that he would be switching to #6 next season and finally announced in a self-aggrandizing PR nightmare - these three buddies decided to go it together no matter what. It's appalling, impressive, and ultimately intriguing all at once.

    Here's my question: how much of this did the Heat know already and when did they find out? If Wade and Riley have been toasting to this moment for the last three seasons... that's grossly underhanded. But I still don't think it speaks to the competitive nature of the people involved. That said they better win at least 3 rings together, or we will probably remember their time together as a colossal failure.

  114. P Middy Says:

    Most def. Anything less than multiple rings will go down as a failure. With those three, and 5 years to do it, I'd say that's a fair criticism.

  115. NYChris248 Says:

    On any site, but especially on a basketball statistics site, bringing up Kobe's allegations severely damages your argument.

    Neil's original post is mostly straw. I still can't see what exactly LeBron is sacrificing here:

    * more money (after sign-and-trade escalation, no income tax on salary and endorsements, and the ability to sign a new contract after year 5)
    * a city with better nightlife and better weather
    * playing with his friends

    And the only other thing Neil mentioned (turning himself into a villain in Ohio) seems to not have been on LeBron's radar at all. If that were a significant factor they would have been prepared to do a lot more damage control than they thought necessary.

    I also think basketball should be fun, and from these pros and cons, it sounds like a solid decision. But it's not sacrifice.

    (And the counterargument applies as well, are those of you admiring LeBron for the team approach going to stop diminishing Kobe's 5 rings? Great, let us never read another "3 of them don't count because he had Shaq, and the other 2 don't count either because he had Pau" post again.)

  116. Ray Says:

    "# joe Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    His best shot at winning was in Chicago, and he'd have been the man there. He may win in Miami but, at best, he just turned in the Lone Ranger mask and became Tonto, like A Rod winning on Jeter's team. He wants a ring but he wants to piggyback his way to it."

    How is Rose/Boozer any better than Wade/Bosh? And how would LeBron know that the chemistry would work?

    Maybe he just wanted to go to a place where he knew the management wouldn't assault his coach...

    "# Joel Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    But now, all of the sudden, he wants to be an ensemble guy and a winner, and his critics shouldn't hold him accountable to his self-perpetuated alpha status? I call nonsense on that. Lebron is no more king than Puyi."

    It looks like he's having a change of heart. Not overnight, obviously, and the process is probably ongoing. But clearly that has to be the case for him to at least partially swallow his pride like he did. I'm not saying we should be looking up to him or anything, and it'll be a long time (if ever) before he admits any of this, but it's the only reasonable conclusion you could come to given the events of the last few days.

    "# Anon x 2 Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    So, you'd all be cool with Chris Paul and Dwight Howard joining up with them next season (assuming the logistics make it possible) for an all-nba starting 5?

    Isn't there a line that needs to be drawn at some point?"

    Do you assume that no new talent is being added to the league every year, and that young talent already here won't get better?

    "# Joel Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 3:50 pm

    Well, considering that the Bulls drafted their two best players, assembling all the role players by various means, I don't think that analogy holds. Of course, you'd also have to ignore the fact that the spectacle created by Lebron et al. before the signing, and the even greater spectacle thereafter is unprecedented."

    So ping pong balls should carry more weight than established veterans deciding what teams to be part of based on which is the best fit? Or is there a talent limit on choice that only allows the Derek Fishers of the world to explore their career options?

  117. Luke M. Says:

    I think the biggest problem people have with this whole thing (other than destroying Cleveland) is that everyone wants LeBron to be Jordan. Everyone wants to "witness" the greatest basketball player of all time do amazing things. Part of this is LeBron's fault for doing things that intentionally cast him in Jordan's mold/shadow, but really, everyone's placed that role upon him since even before Day 1. And this just isn't something that Jordan would have ever done. But LeBron's not Jordan. That's not a knock to him at all, nobody's Jordan and nobody else ever will be. It's just that now everyone can clearly see that LeBron's not going to meet those expectations as the greatest player of all time.

    I think this is the case only because nobody cares when any other player does this. Nobody cared when Bosh said he was going to Miami. Nobody questioned motives when Malone and Payton, a top 10 player and a top 25 player of all time, went to the Lakers in 2003. The only other player I can see people reacting even closely to the same way if he did the same thing is Kobe (who everyone already hates anyway) and we already know he'd never do that since, as Neil mentioned above, he and Shaq left several championships on the table because they couldn't coexist.

  118. P Middy Says:

    State income tax for Ohio and LeBron's bracket would've been 6% (rounding up). 120,000,000 x .06 = 7,200,000. That would bring it down to 112,800,000. He's signed up for 110,100,000 on this Miami contract. Pretty slim pay cut, but a pay cut none-the-less.

    Endorsements and signing a new contract after 4 years would've happened anywhere. I don't think that's something particular to Miami.
    http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/news/story?id=5368003

  119. Neil Paine Says:

    NYChris248, I think you're mistaken when you refer to my post as "mostly straw". You failed to address the biggest sacrifice of all -- touches, shot attempts, points per game, and various other statistics that don't matter as much to our advanced perspective here at BBR, but are viewed as extremely important in the mainstream bball community, including players, coaches, fans, agents, owners, and GMs. He's giving up that measure of glory in order to win more games, so I'm not sure why we wouldn't consider that a "sacrifice".

    That said, I have to say that if I were in charge, we'd never judge an individual player by his rings again. Championships are team accomplishments, so it's impossible to "diminish" Kobe's -- all they mean is that the 2000, '01, '02, '09, and '10 Lakers won the NBA title. So LeBron winning championships in Miami would mean very little in my opinion, since that would be a team accomplishment. But he didn't go to Miami for people like me, he went for people who blindly "count the rings" when evaluating a player's "legacy" (also, the girls, beaches, and a chance to play with his buddies may have slightly influenced his decision...)

  120. Jason J Says:

    The "Secret" from Simmons book is that the player has to sacrificing his own ball domination in order to win. If you look at Isiah (with whom Bill discussed the theory of the Secret in person), you see that when Dantley joined Detroit, Thomas's advanced stats imploded.

    Most statisticians hold this against Isiah. They assume he peaked at the tender age of 23. What actually happened was Isiah stopped running a fast break team where he could get easier shots, easier assists, and get to line more in favor of running the team more through Dantley (and later Vinnie and Joe and Aguire) because that was the only way Adrian was going to positively impact the team (he certainly wasn't a run and gun player, a pick and roll player, or anything else that would enhance Isiah's stats). Of course sacrificing his play style so that Dantley could contribute was ultimately great for the team, and in 1988 they were one Isiah ankle injury and a few terrible calls away from defeating the Lakers for the title.

    Same thing happened with Jordan between 1989 and 1990. In the last two months of the 1989 season, when Doug Collins decided the easiest way to work everyone into the offense was to move Jordan to point guard (worked great when Hodges was healthy to provide spacing and awful the rest of the time), Michael wracked up the vast majority of his triple doubles and wound up with a season average that was as close as we've seen to Oscar Robertson. They even made the conference finals that year. But of course Oscar Robertson didn't win rings playing that way, and it didn't seem likely the Chicago would either. So Phil Jackson took the ball out of Michael's hands. Michael sacrificed control, never approached 8 rebound and 8 assists a game again or the TS% he had in 1989 for that matter, but by involving other players in making decisions, he allowed them to contribute to a higher degree and ultimately crushed their rival Pistons and became the greatest dynasty since Bill Russell's Celtics.

    Now do I buy "the Secret"? Meh. It explains those two instances pretty well. Doesn't really work for say Shaq, who just needed Jackson to get him to play his best ball and Bryant to give him crunch time help but was never really asked to do less than he could for the good of the team. Bryant was. But that's probably true of any big guy where they just don't have the option of dominating the ball as much since someone has to feed the post to put them in position to do their thing.

  121. Ray Says:

    "# NYChris248 Says:
    July 10th, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    On any site, but especially on a basketball statistics site, bringing up Kobe's allegations severely damages your argument.

    (And the counterargument applies as well, are those of you admiring LeBron for the team approach going to stop diminishing Kobe's 5 rings? Great, let us never read another "3 of them don't count because he had Shaq, and the other 2 don't count either because he had Pau" post again.)"

    Colorado happened. It's relevant to the extent that it was far more serious an incident than abruptly leaving one's hometown team, yet Kobe has largely repaired his image. And I say this as someone who believed his version of the events.

    And yes, all of Kobe's rings count. Nobody should doubt that, although it's fair to question performances like Game 7 in light of his clutch reputation and the Jordan-like legacy that is being written in real time by sports media and popular debate. He will rightly go down as one of the all-time greats, but nobody is perfect.

    As for LeBron's "sacrifice," you're right that it isn't very much in terms of money, but it clearly has been a sacrifice of "alpha" status (and that includes giving up money when you're a max player). He knows fully well that he just mortgaged a significant portion of his brand, partially with the hope that he'll more than recoup it by co-leading a dynasty and partially because he just values being part of a winning formula that much.

    For all his immaturity, I think LeBron took what KG whispered to him to heart, especially after watching Garnett, winded and on bad knees, give it his all for one more shot at winning the big one. And I'm sure LeBron pictured himself in the same situation one day, regretting not having done sooner something like what he just did.

    I'm just trying to see this in the shades of gray that it has to be viewed in. As bad as it was when he was Cleveland's purported "savior" (I always found that "we are witness" stuff creepy), portraying him in such a uniformly negative light is just as wide off the mark.

  122. NYChris248 Says:

    @P Middy
    "Endorsements and signing a new contract after 4 years would've happened anywhere. I don't think that's something particular to Miami."

    Right, but in Miami, the income from those endorsements is not subject to income tax.

    @Ray

    I don't think LeBron knows fully well at all what he just did to his brand. In my opinion, the TV special demonstrated that he and his team are tonedeaf to those considerations. And just to clarify, it is not a sacrifice financially at all. Overall he will be making more money.

    I think we agree on the point that winning will solve all or most of these issues for him. Considering that fans of the NBA change moods 180 degrees after every game in playoff series, I'm fairly confident that history will be rewritten by the winners once the Heat stack up a few titles.

    @Neil
    Fair enough when you refer to on-the-court sacrifice. We can only speculate now what that will look like, but of course b-r will be the best place to hash all of the out! For what it's worth, I think Bosh will be sacrificing the most on that point.

    I think where I see the straw in your post is bringing up Simmons and other commentators in a skewed way just to serve your argument.

    Also, if writers didn't discuss the "how" of sports, then there would hardly be any sports journalism at all.

  123. Kill The NBA Says:

    Yeah, to hell with Cleveland. What do we matter?

    It's a nice, cozy attitude that permeates all sports. New York, Boston and L.A. are essentially the only teams that matter. So why not make them the only teams in the league? Might as well.

    The NBA has been a standing joke since the 1980s. It is, by far, the worst professional sports league. (Has to be. ESPN loves it.) When the WWE and UFC beats you for credibility, it's time to hang it up.

    If the Cavaliers or other smaller markets can't draw players or get any respect, why put a team on the court in the first place? Tear down the Q. Disband the Cavs. To hell with David Stern's NBA. I'll watch real basketball ... HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL.

  124. Jason J Says:

    I haven't actually been to a game in Cleveland since it was still Gund Arena (had a great time there actually), but I think the fact that free agency puts so much power in players' hands to decide where they want to be and front offices are so deft at manipulating the salary cap might become a real issue if small market teams can't attract players in free agency.

    Though I don't know if that's an issue of big cities or is a little more complex than that. The Bulls should have become a powerhouse in the summer of 2000 (or thereabouts), but all the prime free agents were skeptical after the breakup of the inviciBulls, and avoided Chicago like is was Raccoon City.

    On the other hand, teams like San Antonio certainly aren't getting swatted around by teams like New York. Had the Cavs had the Spurs skill or luck in finding talent and targeted better players than Darius Miles, Larry Hughes, and Mo Williams to be their secondary stars while LeBron was there to attract free agent help, or had Boozer lived up to his handshake deal with Mr. Gund all those years ago, we might be talking about the multi-title Cavs right now.

    This may be an isolated issue where 3 friends deciding to play together at all costs has done something unprecedented.

  125. Anon x 2 Says:

    "NYChris248, I think you're mistaken when you refer to my post as "mostly straw". You failed to address the biggest sacrifice of all -- touches, shot attempts, points per game, and various other statistics that don't matter as much to our advanced perspective here at BBR, but are viewed as extremely important in the mainstream bball community, including players, coaches, fans, agents, owners, and GMs. He's giving up that measure of glory in order to win more games, so I'm not sure why we wouldn't consider that a "sacrifice"."

    Neil, or perhaps he's sacrificing being the main source of blame when failure occurs? You know, cuz if they do fail, well...it's Wade's team and not his.

    I think it's silly to sit there and pretend his action was somehow altruistic. He made it very clear that his choices were all about him. He's not even going to downtown Miami, he's "taking his talents to South Beach."

  126. Anon x 2 Says:

    "On the other hand, teams like San Antonio certainly aren't getting swatted around by teams like New York. Had the Cavs had the Spurs skill or luck in finding talent and targeted better players than Darius Miles, Larry Hughes, and Mo Williams to be their secondary stars while LeBron was there to attract free agent help, or had Boozer lived up to his handshake deal with Mr. Gund all those years ago, we might be talking about the multi-title Cavs right now."

    San Antonio would be in much dire straights had Duncan left for Orlando back in I believe 2000. Thankfully for that team he remained loyal.

    The NBA CBA is supposed to give small market teams an ability to keep their star players via Bird right's. With the ability to make up this money in endorsements for some star players, it gives a way to circumvent this issue. Hurts the competitive balance of the league.

    Perhaps the NBA needs a franchise tag like the NFL has.

  127. Pageup Says:

    AYC, "PS I am a Celtics fan, and no way would I root for LA (or the Knicks) over MIA; if you would root for LA out of spite for LBJ, you aren't a real celtics fan IMO"

    I'm a big Boston fan too but I could never work up the same revulsion for the Lakers as I can for the Evil Empire. Basketball is a totally different game, it takes phenomenal skill and athleticism to play at the highest level, and great players and a great team are beautiful things to watch, and, well, the Lakers have had more than a few of those. Now you put the Lakers against the Celts in a 7 game series, that's different, I say kick their asses (I'm still a little irritated at the 37 to 17 free throw discrepancy in game 7). As for Lebron, I actually defended him against Kobe in a previous blog but this move to Miami and The Decision and all the rest of his egotistical nonsense (he's talking about himself in the 3rd person now, the other night he said, "Then they don't really understand Lebron James." Ugh.) is more than obnoxious, it's downright repulsive. So I hope the Celts kick the crap out of Miami, but damn, they're getting old. So maybe someone else in the East can do it? And if not...

  128. Jason J Says:

    If San Antonio hadn't won a title in 1999 would Duncan have stuck around? If LeBron had David Robinson, Avery Johnson, and Sean Elliot filling out his squad and had won a ring already... well every situation is unique.

  129. Ahlaker Says:

    Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing - LBJ doesn't buy into this mantra. If he really wants championships he signs for the midlevel exception with either LA, Boston or Orlando. These are the top 3 teams in the league and these teams provide him the best shot at winning multiple championships. LBJ's mantra is more like "Winning is pretty important, but only if I can be playing with my buddies while making an obscene amount of money".

    All this talk about how unselfish each of these guys are (from a basketball or financial standpoint) is complete rubbish. If they were really unselfish, they'd have all taken the veteran's minimum and played in LA, Boston or Orlando. LBJ proved he's the ultimate egomaniac with his public dumping of the Cavs. The word "unselfish" shouldn't really be used to describe anything related to the King.

    Another thing that's not been mentioned too much here is the best case scenario for number of titles in Miami. I don't think he can get to six career titles with the time he's got left. He'd probably need to win titles in 4 of the 6 years he's contracted to Miami and that's a pretty big ask. He'd then need to sneak in 2 after the age of 31. Thoughts?

  130. P Middy Says:

    "Right, but in Miami, the income from those endorsements is not subject to income tax."

    Which amounts to 1.8 million saved a year if he gets $30 million a year in endorsements. Last year he made $28 million on endorsements, apparently. We're still talking about pretty much the same money as he would get in Cleveland on a max contract.

  131. Anon x 2 Says:

    "If San Antonio hadn't won a title in 1999 would Duncan have stuck around? If LeBron had David Robinson, Avery Johnson, and Sean Elliot filling out his squad and had won a ring already... well every situation is unique."

    Your hypothetical proves my point. If star or superstar players will only stay in a small market if their team is a NBA title contender right now, then the system is broken.

    Small market teams need ways of keeping their franchise guys, IMO.

  132. Jason J Says:

    I recall Pierce threatening to leave Boston after a dismal season. I recall Kobe demanding a trade not so long ago. Doesn't seem like a big market has a whole lot to do with it when winning isn't there to back up the market.

  133. P Middy Says:

    Boozer, Stoudemire, Bosh - these guys are not backstabbing cowards taking the easy way out? Melo next year? Afraid to win on his own? Gotta go the same way with KG and Ray Allen right? Heartlessly left their franchises to chase a title in a big market with an established all star they did.

  134. huevonkiller Says:

    Neil Paine, you have a handful of posts in this thread but they were truly excellent. I'm glad you're calling out the double standards and goal post shifting. I could not have worded it any better.

  135. Nick Says:

    Another thing that's not been mentioned too much here is the best case scenario for number of titles in Miami. I don't think he can get to six career titles with the time he's got left. He'd probably need to win titles in 4 of the 6 years he's contracted to Miami and that's a pretty big ask. He'd then need to sneak in 2 after the age of 31. Thoughts?

    Jordan was 2 years older than LeBron is now when he won his first title, and Jordan took 2 years off after that. I don't think it's impossible, or even unlikely that he'll be good well into his thirties.

    On an unrelated note, people who are saying LeBron isn't really taking less money because of Florida's lack of an income tax are missing the point: LeBron (and Wade. Bosh is probably being paid what he's worth even with the paycut) is taking less money than than he could get in Florida. If he demanded a max deal to sign with the Heat, he'd be getting a max deal. He's not. He (and the other two) are leaving money so they can get a better supporting cast. That's how you can tell it's more about winning than anything else.

    On Miami vs. Chicago being the best shot at a(or more than one) title, while the Bulls might have the better, more assembled team currently, LeBron has played with, and likes playing with Bosh and Wade so he knows going in that chemistry is likely not to be a problem. And a lot of other players are going to want to go there, because LeBron is, on the court, an incredibly unselfish superstar and taking wide-open shots because the defense is busy with everyone else is a lot of fun. This Heat team is going to work really, really well and be incredibly fun to watch.

  136. Anon x 2 Says:

    "I recall Pierce threatening to leave Boston after a dismal season. I recall Kobe demanding a trade not so long ago. Doesn't seem like a big market has a whole lot to do with it when winning isn't there to back up the market."

    I don't recall Pierce's...but comparing a sub 20 win team and a mediocre 40 win team to a back to back best record in the league team is disingenuous at best.

  137. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Boozer, Stoudemire, Bosh - these guys are not backstabbing cowards taking the easy way out? Melo next year? Afraid to win on his own? Gotta go the same way with KG and Ray Allen right? Heartlessly left their franchises to chase a title in a big market with an established all star they did."

    Boozer and Stoudemire left for more money, which is very different. Now you're going to make me defend Boston players, ugh. Ray Allen was traded without ever demanding a trade to my knowledge. I don't see how you can even bring him into the discussion. He had no choice in the matter. KG was traded because of a choice by management to get something for him before it was too late. KG never demanded to leave and said he'd stay. Using those 2 as an example is fallacious. Furthermore, they're both past their prime.

    Bosh you could lump in there, though. I know many in Toronto do feel like that and have all year. He's just being overshadowed by Bron, that's all.

  138. Anon x 2 Says:

    "On an unrelated note, people who are saying LeBron isn't really taking less money because of Florida's lack of an income tax are missing the point: LeBron (and Wade. Bosh is probably being paid what he's worth even with the paycut) is taking less money than than he could get in Florida. If he demanded a max deal to sign with the Heat, he'd be getting a max deal. He's not. He (and the other two) are leaving money so they can get a better supporting cast. That's how you can tell it's more about winning than anything else."

    Kobe, Dirk, and Pau did the same in their extensions. Where is all the praise for them?

    We should all be attacking Joe Johnson, instead!

  139. P Middy Says:

    Yup, and for all his time in Minnesota, KG says he wished he left sooner. I'd love to see anyone here criticizing LeBron for going to Miami (not the way he did it, the way he did it was horrible) willingly choose to waste 85% of their career. Turn down your next promotion so you can keep working with the same co-workers. See what kind of a hero it makes you to your family and friends.

  140. Nick Says:

    "Kobe, Dirk, and Pau did the same in their extensions. Where is all the praise for them?"

    Has anyone, ever, call Pau or Dirk selfish? It's certainly not the rep they have (and deservedly so). And any talk about selfishness regarding Kobe generally refer to his being a ball-hog and some locker room issue (which also largely resulted from him being a ball-hog), not money-related issues.

  141. huevonkiller Says:

    I don't care if he was a jerk and back stabbed all of you flagrantly, he's the best player in the game and the whiners are annoying. He'll win titles and Finals MVPs and then I'll just laugh. Oh by the way I live in Miami even better for me.

    Anon X 2, if the Heat fail the blame is placed on James. Because James is the leader of that team and he's the best force in the game, not to mention younger and more durable. No duh Wade was the ex-leader, that's because LeBron is in Cleveland. That all changes especially in a dynasty run. If you feel bad about it tough.

    I don't care if Jesus Christ was on the Heat last year as their franchise guy, if James maintains his numbers and is the best player in the post-season, Wade can be 3-peat Kobe to LeBron's 3-peat Shaq.

  142. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Yup, and for all his time in Minnesota, KG says he wished he left sooner. I'd love to see anyone here criticizing LeBron for going to Miami (not the way he did it, the way he did it was horrible) willingly choose to waste 85% of their career. Turn down your next promotion so you can keep working with the same co-workers. See what kind of a hero it makes you to your family and friends."

    In my opinion, I believe KG had every right to say that. No single player's prime was as wasted as Kevin Garnett's. Lebron's last 2 seasons were NBA Finals, ECF, and EC SF with the best record in the NBA twice. KG got past the 1st round 1 single time in Minnesota, missing the playoffs numerous times, and his team had so little chance of improving because of an illegal action taken by paying Joe Smith under the table.

    This is revisionist history when people claim Lebro would be wasting his career. How could anyone with a straight face say his last 3 seasons were wasted? KG had half the talent on his team that Lebron has had maybe once and he was a Sam Cassell injury away from the NBA Finals.

  143. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Has anyone, ever, call Pau or Dirk selfish? It's certainly not the rep they have (and deservedly so). And any talk about selfishness regarding Kobe generally refer to his being a ball-hog and some locker room issue (which also largely resulted from him being a ball-hog), not money-related issues."

    No one called Lebron selfish until now. I'm just pointing out that calling him unselfish because he chose what he chose is a bit absurd. Maybe it's the logical choice, maybe it's the wrong choice, but it's certainly not unselfish.

    Look at that ridiculous Heat party they had, parading around as if they had done something already.

  144. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Anon X 2, if the Heat fail the blame is placed on James. Because James is the leader of that team and he's the best force in the game, not to mention younger and more durable. No duh Wade was the ex-leader, that's because LeBron is in Cleveland. That all changes especially in a dynasty run. If you feel bad about it tough."

    Lebron will shoulder blame, but not all of it. It was be shared.

    And it will always be seen as Wade's team. Maybe stats will say otherwise, but perception is reality at times like this.

  145. huevonkiller Says:

    You must not understand the concept of playoff MVP then. Then don't come to basketball-reference because we deal with reality not what bitter Laker fans cling to. We're not here to support made up media story lines, abck up your ideas with coherent facts.

    Wade is more likely to not only break down sooner he'll also lose out on the difference between Shaq's 4 rings and Kobe's 5 rings. Finals MVPs, because stats matter when you win.

    When you win the guy with the best numbers wins out.

  146. huevonkiller Says:

    *back

    "And it will always be seen as Wade's team"

    Wrong it is fluid. That's a year-by-year analysis. What he did in 2006 is not what will occur in 2011.

    When Kobe was gagging in the Finals (for Shaq's standards) and was second fiddle to Shaq, if he had only outplayed O'neal people wouldn't think of it that way.

  147. huevonkiller Says:

    Oh and lol, that was seen as Shaq's team in Miami back in the mid 2000s, when he finished second in MVP voting.

    You take the crown away with your production. To those saying it is a lock the media will think such and such pejorative stuff about James, bull. The media is fickle and the newest performance in the playoffs sways them. Just like if Kobe shoots 25-5-5 40% for a post-season no one is going to say he carried that team, if Prime LeBron is his teammate.

  148. Jason J Says:

    #136 It's not disingenuous. It just shows that players are looking for success rather than market. Pierce wanted to be on a team that could compete in the playoffs. Kobe needed to win titles because that was his measure of success (besides, Shaq won one without him. he couldn't have that!).

    For LeBron what is success? Dynasty. He's being measured against Michael Jordan and nothing else. Cleveland as it's presently constructed does not give him the ability to be a dynasty. I'm not saying Ferry and Gilbert didn't do everything they could, but the pieces never fit quite well enough. The underhanded trade that Ainge and McHale (buddies) pulled to get Garnett to Boston ruined two great chances for Cavs.

    He apparent believes teaming with Wade and Bosh under the leadership of Pat Riley gives him his best chance to win now and in the future. He and Wade have both come out and said so. Are they right? We don't know yet. But that is the thinking, not "God I gotta get outta the town I been in for my whole life."

    To push home the point, if they wanted to win titles in a bigger market any combination of the two of them could have gone to Chicago. But Riley sold them on the idea that he could build a team that would keep winning and winning.

    That's how I see it anyway.

  149. libelec Says:

    The rant was all about the fact that His Holly Image was torn down, and what we saw was just a very physically gifted kid playing basketball.

    I think the whole rant from Simmons comes from the fact that he thought James was going to be The One. Just a few months before the playoffs, he had written http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100120&sportCat=nba about how LeBron was going to be The Next MJ. This was the thought of many of The Outsiders (that is, non-Cleveland fans). To them, LBJ was special because he was supposed to be The Chosen One, the one that was going to bring the NBA back to its glory days, the fun days of Jordan.

    The fact that LBJ decided to join Miami instead of trying to bring a loser city from the ruins, the fact that he failed to do so, and even worse, that he recognizes that he just can't do it put his image back to earth. He's now, for everybody, just one great basketball player. He's another Kobe, another Shaq, another Tim Duncan. A guy who is either physically or technically gifted (in his case, both), but who can't just put his team on his shoulder and win when the money is on the table. He lacks Kobe's and MJ's fangs; and that was something everybody could see for some time now. He lacks the hyper-competitiveness of those two. And that is a fault(?) that many can't tolerate on TGoaT, unless he is a supergod of the sport (like Manning, if he happens to win another ring). That's when the image of "LeBron James: Basketball God" was torn apart

    Another of the reasons was the way he announced it. It was unapologetically narcissistic. It should've come as no surprise that the most marketable sportsman in the USA would do something like this. But there were some that thought much higher of LeBron. They thought of LeBron as a humble, folksy fellow from Mid-America, shy of the spotlight except for a couple of times when, you know, he just had fun with those Nike commercials. Now, the show he put was just the opposite. There was no denying that. That's where the image of "LeBron James: True AMERICAN Sportsman" came down.

    Then it's about the True LeBron Fans, the ones that rooted for Cleveland. Those are the ones that are going to fuel most of these rants. Their history makes them think of this as a treason: their Savior leaving them for greener pastures and funner times. That's where the image of "LeBron James: Cleveland Sports Scene Savior" came down.

    One more thing: I think there's no doubt his decition was egotistical. There's no doubt. How could you explain it otherwise? He wanted the ring, but he really wanted HIS ring. Not the championship for Cleveland. And he wanted to enjoy himself, he wanted a better scene. That's why he chose Miami over Chicago. Problem is, there shouldn't be anything wrong with that. I mean, if I were him (25 year old millionaire athlete), I would have also wanted to leave a cold, boring town with no night scene to speak of, in the middle of freaking nowhere, with basically no chances of winning a title for the next 3 years, with a mediocre-at-best front office, for a warm place with one of the best night scenes in the USA, no earning taxes, legitimate chances of winning a championship (at least on paper), and along two of my friends. But I can't be as hypocritical as to say this is not selfish. Unselfishness would've been giving up money and signing with Cleveland to try to bring joy to the people that supported me for the last 8 years, since I were in HS. The people I grew up with, that rooted for me everyday, whether I played well or not. The ones that haven't won a championship since Jim Brown. Because, who am I doing this for, to call myself unselfish? The fans from Miami? Why in hell should I do something for them? What did they do to deserve being helped by me?

    Finally, remember that in the USA, you root for the underdog. All the freaking time. And Cleveland, given its history, and AFTER what happened, are again underdogs. So, if LeBron did them wrong, he's going to be chastisized for that.

    He quitted the underdog story of the guy who took that poor team and brought it back from the bottom to win it all. To them, that's unforgivable.

  150. Anon x 2 Says:

    "You must not understand the concept of playoff MVP then. Then don't come to basketball-reference because we deal with reality not what bitter Laker fans cling to. We're not here to support made up media story lines, abck up your ideas with coherent facts.

    Wade is more likely to not only break down sooner he'll also lose out on the difference between Shaq's 4 rings and Kobe's 5 rings. Finals MVPs, because stats matter when you win.

    When you win the guy with the best numbers wins out."

    Eh, perception defines legacies, not stats. Look at Iverson. I think a lot of us here would agree he's overrated but his legacy far exceeds that. On the flip side, a guy like Pippen is understated because he lived under Jordan's legacy.

    As I said, I personally believe it will be seen as Wade's team. Perhaps as time goes on and Wade slows down things will change. Maybe it won't, time will tell.

    "When Kobe was gagging in the Finals (for Shaq's standards) and was second fiddle to Shaq, if he had only outplayed O'neal people wouldn't think of it that way."

    I find it funny you continue to bring Kobe into a conversation that has nothing to do with him.

    "Oh and lol, that was seen as Shaq's team in Miami back in the mid 2000s, when he finished second in MVP voting.

    You take the crown away with your production. To those saying it is a lock the media will think such and such pejorative stuff about James, bull. The media is fickle and the newest performance in the playoffs sways them. Just like if Kobe shoots 25-5-5 40% for a post-season no one is going to say he carried that team, if Prime LeBron is his teammate."

    If Wade does that, then we can talk Also, I don't believe Kobe shot that low for a post-season since he was a teenager.

  151. Anon x 2 Says:

    "It's not disingenuous. It just shows that players are looking for success rather than market. Pierce wanted to be on a team that could compete in the playoffs. Kobe needed to win titles because that was his measure of success (besides, Shaq won one without him. he couldn't have that!)."

    It is because Lebron had lots of success in Cleveland. You say players chase success then ignore that he was having it. To say that Lebron couldn't win right now in Cleveland is blasphemy. Tougher, perhaps, but not close to what a sub 20 win Pierce team was at.

    "For LeBron what is success? Dynasty. He's being measured against Michael Jordan and nothing else. Cleveland as it's presently constructed does not give him the ability to be a dynasty. I'm not saying Ferry and Gilbert didn't do everything they could, but the pieces never fit quite well enough. The underhanded trade that Ainge and McHale (buddies) pulled to get Garnett to Boston ruined two great chances for Cavs."

    Missing the 2 since it was no guarantee Cleveland would beat Detroit 2 years ago or L.A and the other year Orlando knocked em off.

    I disagree that dynasty was the only thing that would be success for Lebron, especially in this age of the NBA and especially in Cleveland.

    "He apparent believes teaming with Wade and Bosh under the leadership of Pat Riley gives him his best chance to win now and in the future. He and Wade have both come out and said so. Are they right? We don't know yet. But that is the thinking, not "God I gotta get outta the town I been in for my whole life."

    To push home the point, if they wanted to win titles in a bigger market any combination of the two of them could have gone to Chicago. But Riley sold them on the idea that he could build a team that would keep winning and winning.

    That's how I see it anyway."

    Oh, I agree with this. I just don't believe in the notion that he couldn't win with Cleveland. He had his chances and he'd continue to have them. As I said, it would be a tougher road, but a road that could be traveled. He decided to take the easier path.

    Does willingly choosing to take the easier path reduce his legacy? That's what is up for debate.

  152. AYC Says:

    #127, I stand by my statement; a true Celtics fan can't root for the Lakers; this is ESPECIALLY true as long as LA is led by Kobe, who has done more to ruin the NBA than any other star of the last ten years

  153. NYChris248 Says:

    @P Middy

    "Which amounts to 1.8 million saved a year if he gets $30 million a year in endorsements. Last year he made $28 million on endorsements, apparently. We're still talking about pretty much the same money as he would get in Cleveland on a max contract."

    I've heard (not confirmed) that he has incentives that increase his compensation if he moves to a bigger market (I'm assuming that Miami is a bigger market, I'm actually not sure about that.

    At any rate, I'm willing to bet his endorsements increase more than $2 million next year.

    Anyway, I just want people to stop painting it as if LeBron is making a giant financial sacrifice to play in Miami.

  154. Nick Says:

    "Oh, I agree with this. I just don't believe in the notion that he couldn't win with Cleveland. He had his chances and he'd continue to have them. As I said, it would be a tougher road, but a road that could be traveled. He decided to take the easier path."

    Define "win with Cleveland". He was, under no circumstances, going to win a championship in Cleveland within the next few years. No chance at all. His team isn't remotely good enough. And they are getting worse, not better. It's not a road that could be traveled. It's a road that would leave him worn-down and beat and 6 years of his prime gone.

    People who think LeBron could win a championship in Cleveland if he just tried harder are insane.

  155. Anon x 2 Says:

    ""Oh, I agree with this. I just don't believe in the notion that he couldn't win with Cleveland. He had his chances and he'd continue to have them. As I said, it would be a tougher road, but a road that could be traveled. He decided to take the easier path."

    Define "win with Cleveland". He was, under no circumstances, going to win a championship in Cleveland within the next few years. No chance at all. His team isn't remotely good enough. And they are getting worse, not better. It's not a road that could be traveled. It's a road that would leave him worn-down and beat and 6 years of his prime gone.

    People who think LeBron could win a championship in Cleveland if he just tried harder are insane."

    Dude, his team won over 60 games 2 years in a row. The team by most advanced measures, were good enough to win.

    Furthermore, we're in a league where Boston went from 16 wins to 66 wins in 2 years (or close to that). Where LA went from 42 wins to a 3 time NBA Finalist in a row.

    I'm sorry, but Lebron was not so far away from a title. Heck, if they made the decision to get Amar'e rather than Jamison, maybe they're holding up the Larry O'Brian trophy right now.

    They were very clearly 1 piece away from probably winning a title.

    These are the facts:

    They won 60+ games 2 years in a row and had the best record each year.
    Top 3 in point differential the last 2 years
    Top 3 3 point % team and rebounding team the last 2 seasons (and top 5 defense in 2 of em)
    Made at least the ECF 2 of the last 3 years and only beaten by the eventual Finalist
    Have a billionaire owner winning to spend
    Been very active during the off-season and trade deadlines

    So please please please don't pee on my foot and tell me it's raining. Lebron was not going to wallow in misery (at least on the court) in Cleveland for years to come.

  156. huevonkiller Says:

    "Eh, perception defines legacies, not stats. Look at Iverson. I think a lot of us here would agree he's overrated but his legacy far exceeds that. On the flip side, a guy like Pippen is understated because he lived under Jordan's legacy.

    As I said, I personally believe it will be seen as Wade's team. Perhaps as time goes on and Wade slows down things will change. Maybe it won't, time will tell."

    I'm glad you're willing to let time tell, because that is the most appropriate answer.

    Let's observe what happens, because things can change drastically in these upcoming years. There is quite a lot at stake and much to be decided. But I'm well aware of who has the inside track.

    Like when LeBron had 28 PER at 21, I was aware that he would have a higher peak later on due to his age.

    "I find it funny you continue to bring Kobe into a conversation that has nothing to do with him."

    It was a basketball analogy so you don't have to bring him up for me to mention him.

    "If Wade does that, then we can talk Also, I don't believe Kobe shot that low for a post-season since he was a teenager."

    2003-2004 for starters.

    From ages 23-28: 20.5, 22.2, 21.0, 19.9, 24.0 PER.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=rU8CM

  157. huevonkiller Says:

    A little reminder, on who has the edge for future Playoff awards:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/play-index/tiny.cgi?id=4GvKG

    Add this guy to multiple title winners as the youngest piece, and you have an interesting situation.

  158. Nick Says:

    They were very clearly 1 piece away from probably winning a title.

    That one piece (which was a legit #2) was never, ever, coming. No one wants to play in Cleveland. And the Cavs couldn't have signed anyone even if they did. Boston's resurgence was due to what can only be described as a series of insanely lucky front office moves, some arguably collusive, and the Lakers got the most skilled big man in the league for virtually nothing. Are you suggesting the Cavs' front office was savvy enough to pull one of those deals off, despite everything they ever did which said the exact opposite?

  159. NYChris248 Says:

    Nick, your last two posts have been remarkably devoid of facts. You have no way of knowing what Cleveland could have put together, especially considering the amount of revamping they did over the last two years.

    Do you consider the new Miami roster to be the result of collusion?

  160. Spree Says:

    "(gee, remember when basketball was supposed to be fun?)"

    Neil...all due respect. This is their job. If you're getting paid millions of dollars fun is not the most important thing.

    If I'm an owner doling out millions to a player I'm interested in them working as hard as possible and winning. Fun is a distant priority.

    If I'm a fan paying to watch the team I want the guys that kill themselves and work their butts off to win.

    Would I want a guy taking his talents to South Beach or the guy taking 10K jumpers a day and working on every aspect of his game?

  161. Neil Paine Says:

    I guess the question then becomes, can you have fun playing basketball unless you're winning? And if you think LeBron is somehow wired that he would be happy losing, why didn't he just stay in Cleveland? Or go to New York? Or better yet, the Clippers?

  162. Nick Says:

    Nick, your last two posts have been remarkably devoid of facts. You have no way of knowing what Cleveland could have put together, especially considering the amount of revamping they did over the last two years.

    Uh, yeah, I can. They had no cap space and nothing at all worth trading for, other than LeBron. Their best chance at getting better was LeBron getting injured for a season and getting something decent out of the draft. And you want facts? Okay, the Cavs have done progressively worse since they made the finals. They went from outclassed in the Finals, to losing to a suddenly great Boston team to losing to a good Magic team, to being crushed in the second round by a Celtics team. They aren't getting closer, they are getting farther. And next season, you'll see why.

    Do you consider the new Miami roster to be the result of collusion?

    No, because for collusion to occur the beneficiaries have to be the people who are colluding. There is no indication that the James/Wade/Bosh team-up plan went beyond those guys, and they aren't the ones who benefit from them getting together, the Heat is.

  163. Anon x 2 Says:

    "That one piece (which was a legit #2) was never, ever, coming. No one wants to play in Cleveland. And the Cavs couldn't have signed anyone even if they did. Boston's resurgence was due to what can only be described as a series of insanely lucky front office moves, some arguably collusive, and the Lakers got the most skilled big man in the league for virtually nothing. Are you suggesting the Cavs' front office was savvy enough to pull one of those deals off, despite everything they ever did which said the exact opposite?"

    Hakeem and Duncan both won without a "clear #2," so it isn't a necessary requisite.

    And Cleveland could have had Amar'e this trade deadline, so stop with the idea that a #2 couldn't ever be available.

  164. Anon x 2 Says:

    "I guess the question then becomes, can you have fun playing basketball unless you're winning? And if you think LeBron is somehow wired that he would be happy losing, why didn't he just stay in Cleveland? Or go to New York? Or better yet, the Clippers?"

    Shawn Marion was winning a lot but not having any fun. It isn't a one way street.

    BTW, your argument is a staw man.

  165. Nick Says:

    "Hakeem and Duncan both won without a "clear #2," so it isn't a necessary requisite."

    So what you are saying is you have no idea what you are talking about then? Okay. Stop talking.

    Depending on which Duncan team you are talking about, it was either Robinson or Parker. Both of whom could (and have been) the #1 guy on serious contenders. Hakeem manage to surround himself with a bunch of extraordinarily good role players (Drexler, Maxwell, Horry and Cassell were some of them) while the best player of the era took a two year vacation and Phil Jackson was dumb enough to run a final play through Kukoc rather than Pippen.

    "And Cleveland could have had Amar'e this trade deadline, so stop with the idea that a #2 couldn't ever be available."

    One of two things is true: The Cavs couldn't get Amar'e or the Cavs' front office is too incompetent to exist. Take your pick. Both lead to the conclusion that the Cavs will continue to fail at winning a championship.

  166. Theo Says:

    Do you think Lebron will win another mvp in miami?
    Do u think it hurts his chances?

  167. themojojedi Says:

    "Depending on which Duncan team you are talking about, it was either Robinson or Parker. Both of whom could (and have been) the #1 guy on serious contenders."

    Riiiiiiight, so the 20 year old, 1 year of NBA experience Tony Parker from 2002-03 and the 37 year old, cusp of retirement David Robinson from 2002-03 could have been the #1 guy on serious contenders? Heck, why not say the same of 2009-10 Shaq if we can just transport guys through time to suit our arguments.

  168. Anon Says:

    "If I'm an owner doling out millions to a player I'm interested in them working as hard as possible and winning. Fun is a distant priority.

    If I'm a fan paying to watch the team I want the guys that kill themselves and work their butts off to win.

    Would I want a guy taking his talents to South Beach or the guy taking 10K jumpers a day and working on every aspect of his game?"

    Soooooo...LeBron *doesn't* do those things? Let me guess, it's *because* he hasn't won a title right? And the converse must also be true too as well (LeBron hasn't won a title *because* he doesn't work hard), right?

    Newsflash to everyone: these two things are NOT mutually exclusive. ESPECIALLY in team sports.

  169. NYChris248 Says:

    "Okay, the Cavs have done progressively worse since they made the finals."

    They've done worse, but the Cleveland front office has improved the roster during that time.

  170. Neil Paine Says:

    I don't think you guys even know what a "straw man" is. A straw man argument is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position. What exactly is it about your position(s) that I've misrepresented?

  171. Ricardo Says:

    "'Hakeem and Duncan both won without a "clear #2," so it isn't a necessary requisite.'

    So what you are saying is you have no idea what you are talking about then? Okay. Stop talking.

    Depending on which Duncan team you are talking about, it was either Robinson or Parker. Both of whom could (and have been) the #1 guy on serious contenders. Hakeem manage to surround himself with a bunch of extraordinarily good role players (Drexler, Maxwell, Horry and Cassell were some of them) while the best player of the era took a two year vacation and Phil Jackson was dumb enough to run a final play through Kukoc rather than Pippen."

    This is loaded with fail.

    1) Robinson was a still very productive #2 in 1999. In 2003 Robinson was basically a defensive specialist who, because of back and knee trouble, could no longer play a lot of minutes. Tony Parker was the #2 in 2003, and he was miles away from his 2005 form - which was miles away from his 2007 form. In 2003, the Spurs were a one-star team. It doesn't matter that Robinson used to be an MVP or that Parker and Ginobili would become All-Stars; none of them were playing at such a high level in 2003.

    2) You called Clyde Drexler a role player. You might want to rethink that one. Drexler in 1995 wasn't what he had been in his Portland days, but he was third team All-NBA that season. He was 11th in the league in scoring, 8th in PER. Neither Parker nor Robinson did any of those things in 2003. Now I do agree that the Rockets were a one-star team the year before, but that has nothing to do with Drexler.

    3) Phil was stupid to run the play for Kukoc? Dude, the Bulls WON that game on that very play, a Toni Kukoc buzzer-beater. What, would the Bulls have won that game BETTER if Pippen took and made that shot?

  172. qaum Says:

    Nick, Hakeem didn't surround himself with extra-ordinarily good role players. Are you dumb or something? He had freaking CBA player Mario Elie. Sam Cassell who was a rookie. Robert Horry who people called Cinderella because he was afraid to take a beating. Drexler only came into the picture in Title #2.

    If you don't know the facts don't open your mouth. Olajuwon turned most of these rejects into solid role players and brought his humility and the heart of a champion to the table. That is way more than anything Lebron could ever do.

  173. qaum Says:

    Sorry I meant the douche above - Ricardo. Nick is alright :)

  174. qaum Says:

    Ricardo, Hakeem won a title in 93-94 with scrubs. Period.

    Jordan lost to Shaq fair and square in the following year. No excuses.

    Jordan had the most stacked team of all time. All you jerk offs talking about Jordan need to wake the hell up. The 95-96 Bulls were way more stacked than anything Miami put together.

  175. Jason J Says:

    Anon X 2 - I think we just disagree on our opinions of the Cavs chances and the measuring stick for LeBron.

    I agree the Cavs were close, but I actually think moving in the wrong direction. My take is that LeBron agreed with me. Maybe I'm wrong and his team change was non-sensical, but I'm thinking that's where his head was at anyway.

  176. Jason J Says:

    Quam - I could be wrong, but I think Ricardo was referring to the 1994 Bulls, which would have been much better than the 1995 team if it had Jordan - basically they were the 1993 team plus Kukoc, Kerr, and Longley. That should have been the best of the bunch (talent-wise, maybe not chemistry-wise).

  177. Ricardo Says:

    Jason J is right. I was referring to the 1994 Bulls w/r/t the Kukoc-Pippen thing.

    And Quam - here is an excerpt from my previous post which calls into question your reading comprehension skills:

    "Now I do agree that the Rockets were a one-star team the year before, but that has nothing to do with Drexler."

    Please do everyone a favor and beat your oxygen addiction.

  178. Spree Says:

    @ 161
    "I guess the question then becomes, can you have fun playing basketball unless you're winning? And if you think LeBron is somehow wired that he would be happy losing, why didn't he just stay in Cleveland? Or go to New York? Or better yet, the Clippers?"

    You can have fun in South Beach win or lose, Neil. Come on, LeBron didn't say he was taking his talents to Miami. He said he's going to South Beach.

    The thing about Miami is that LeBron doesn't have the burden on his shoulders. If this doesn't work Wade/Bosh are on the hook and so is Pat Riley and his bagman on the bench. LeBron won't be the guy alone under pressure.

    If he goes to NYC or Chicago all the pressure rests on him. Miami was the unique opportunity to lay his burden down and go to a party town.

  179. qaum Says:

    better oxygen than opium

    it just proves you wrong. hakeem did more with less than any other player in the league in 94

    btw bulls in 93 won 57 games, in 94 they won 55 games. the jordan factor might have made a difference that year, but i doubt it, hakeem would not have been denied.

  180. Ricardo Says:

    "it just proves you wrong. hakeem did more with less than any other player in the league in 94"

    PLEASE FIND WHERE I SAID OTHERWISE, YOU IMBECILE!

  181. Jason J Says:

    People always want to act like the 1993 Bulls and 1994 Bulls are the exact same team minus Michael Jordan. That's a gross inaccuracy.

    In 1993 the Bulls top 8 players by Win Share were Michael Jordan, Horace Grant, Scottie Pippen, BJ Armstrong, Scott Williams, Trent Tucker, Will Perdue and John Paxson. (Jordan's WS was actually equal to Grant and Pippen combined.) Team wins were 57. Team SRS was 6.19.

    In 1994 the Bulls top 8 players by Win Share were Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, BJ Armstrong Steve Kerr, Bill Wennington, Toni Kukoc, Pete Myers and Scott Williams. Tucker was let go and Perdue and Paxson were each replaced by significantly better players. Team wins were 55. Team SRS was 2.87.

    1994 was simply not the same team as 1993, though of course only actual Chicago fans remember that because nobody else bothered to watch the team until Pippen refused to go in on that final shot in Knicks playoff series (also they weren't on national TV anymore). As the 1993 WS showed us, Jordan was worth the combined value of Pippen and Grant in 1993 or twice what either one of them provided. So adding him to the 1994 is not a simple return to what the 1993 team achieved. It is returning the NBA's best player to a team that reloaded in his absence (please note that he counted against the salary cap, so the only player on the last who's unlikely to have joined the team if Mike had remained is Pete Myers - the shooting guard), won 55 games, and nearly made the conference finals.

    Now maybe Hakeem's magic touch was such that he could not be denied, but that's asking an awful lot of a team that barely edged out a banged up Knicks team in 7 games that Chicago was one bad Hugh Hollins call from defeating without Jordan.

    Actually, Neil, if you're still monitoring these comments, can you run a "what if" scenario via Win Share to show how the 1994 Bulls minus Pete Myers plus Michael Jordan would have likely performed? Obviously minutes and usage would have to be reshuffled for everyone, so it's not an easy task.

  182. NYChris248 Says:

    Neil, my reference to your original post being straw was that you misrepresented Simmons and "other commentators" to serve your piece, which is exactly what a straw man argument is.

  183. Neil Paine Says:

    Explain how I misrepresented Simmons and "other commentators", though...

  184. Neil Paine Says:

    Keeping The Book of Basketball's "Secret", its emphasis on championships won by players, and these articles in mind, of course:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100708

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/100709

  185. P Middy Says:

    The claim that Hakeem won those rings by himself, or with very little help only makes sense if you didn't actually watch them play.

  186. P Middy Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-b2Jtv4qJI

    I mean, look at this washed up loser wearing 22. HE SUCKS! Music is NSFW.

  187. Anon x 2 Says:

    "So what you are saying is you have no idea what you are talking about then? Okay. Stop talking.

    Depending on which Duncan team you are talking about, it was either Robinson or Parker. Both of whom could (and have been) the #1 guy on serious contenders. Hakeem manage to surround himself with a bunch of extraordinarily good role players (Drexler, Maxwell, Horry and Cassell were some of them) while the best player of the era took a two year vacation and Phil Jackson was dumb enough to run a final play through Kukoc rather than Pippen."

    Hakeem won in 1994 with one player with an above average PER (Otis Thorpe) and that was around 16. Cassell and Horry were rookies, not seasoned vets. Vernon Maxwell was horrible in the playoffs, as well.

    Duncan in 2003 won without a true #2, either. Robinson was on his last legs and averaged under 24mpg. Tony Parker was a scared player that was benched multiple 4th quarters for Speedy Claxton. Parker and Stephen Jackson (2nd and 3rd most minutes on the team in the playoffs) has win shares per 48 below .08 and poor PERs.\

    Neither Duncan nor Hakeem had a series of players as good as Mo, Antwan, Shaq, Varajeo during those title runs and no true #2, so if they can do it, why can't Lebron do it with better talent?

    "One of two things is true: The Cavs couldn't get Amar'e or the Cavs' front office is too incompetent to exist. Take your pick. Both lead to the conclusion that the Cavs will continue to fail at winning a championship."

    False dilemma FTL

  188. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Anon X 2 - I think we just disagree on our opinions of the Cavs chances and the measuring stick for LeBron.

    I agree the Cavs were close, but I actually think moving in the wrong direction. My take is that LeBron agreed with me. Maybe I'm wrong and his team change was non-sensical, but I'm thinking that's where his head was at anyway."

    I'll agree with this. I thought Jamison was moving in the wrong direction because I didn't believe he was an upgrade over Varajeo for that system. But I think they could have fixed that going forward.

    I've seen too many teams make solid moves over the years to fix problems to think otherwise. Cleveland couldn't stand pat, but I believe the opportunity is there to make the right move had he stayed.

  189. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Keeping The Book of Basketball's "Secret", its emphasis on championships won by players, and these articles in mind, of course:"

    From reading the book, my understanding was the "secret' is that it's not always about basketball. That is to say that things unrelated directly to what happens on the court can unravel a team. While selflessness and teamwork fits into that by osmosis, Lebron isn't necessarily demonstrating "the secret" by playing with his friends and sacrificing money/stats.

    If he spends his time in Miami partying and hooking up with lots of women and not focusing on the game (I AM NOT SAYING HE WILL), then it won't mean anything.

  190. Anon Says:

    "Neither Duncan nor Hakeem had a series of players as good as Mo, Antwan, Shaq, Varajeo during those title runs and no true #2, so if they can do it, why can't Lebron do it with better talent?"

    This is a puzzling statement. Care to elaborate? I'm pretty sure Ginobili, Parker, Robinson (even past his prime), Drexler (Neil had a post on this way back, but in '95 he was at best even better than Hakeem in the playoffs by WS/48 min; at worst he was nearly his equal by SPM), Horry, and even guys like Cassell, Thorpe, and Kenny Smith had better playoffs than anyone from Bron's supporting cast.

    When the best playoff performer outside of yourself is Anderson Varejao, you team isn't all that it's cracked up to be.

  191. Pageup Says:

    Did anyone else see this. Bob Ryan, Boston Globe (Boston.com). It might not have been Lebron's idea...

    The instant we heard that James’s decision would be announced in that type of format, on that network, who didn’t know it would be a horror show? My information is that it was actually Gray’s idea, that he pitched it to LeBron right-hand man Maverick Carter and things went from there. ESPN is in the business of 24/7/365 sports programming, so its interest comes in the no-brainer category. Since it only takes a second or two, depending on one’s speech pattern, to say “I’m going to Miami,’’ we knew we would be teased to the point of nausea awaiting the news we had tuned in for. And we were. Next question.

    LeBron was a colossal loser, absolutely. The very idea of the show was preposterous, and the fact he was not talked out of doing this by some clear-thinking elder is scary. He comes off as a narcissist’s narcissist, and perhaps we should wonder if we should caution Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to be careful about what exactly they’re wishing for.

  192. Pageup Says:

    here's the link if interested

    http://www.boston.com/sports/basketball/articles/2010/07/11/three_big_reasons_to_be_afraid/

  193. huevonkiller Says:

    Wow some people can't understand simple concepts. Duncan has lost playoff series in better individual seasons, and has won titles as the #2 option behind Ginobili. http://www.basketball-reference.com/teams/SAS/2005.html

    Some of it comes down to fortunate matchups, and series-by-series production which can fluctuate wildly. In Mo Williams case, he played terrible against Orlando. He basically shot at a lower volume at a significantly worse percentage.

  194. Josh Says:

    Otis Thorpe, Robert Horry (people forget how useful he was in his prime), Mario Elie, and Kenny Smith is an almost perfect collection of role players, and Thorpe was a borderline All-Star. I'd take those four guys over Andy, Mo, Antawn, and Old Shaq any day.

  195. Anon x 2 Says:

    "This is a puzzling statement. Care to elaborate? I'm pretty sure Ginobili, Parker, Robinson (even past his prime), Drexler (Neil had a post on this way back, but in '95 he was at best even better than Hakeem in the playoffs by WS/48 min; at worst he was nearly his equal by SPM), Horry, and even guys like Cassell, Thorpe, and Kenny Smith had better playoffs than anyone from Bron's supporting cast."

    Of course I don't mean prime or near-prime Parker and Ginobili. I'm referring to the 2003 Spurs team where Parker was horrible in the playoffs and was benched in the 4th quarters of games for Speedy Claxton, where Robinson played less than half a game. the only player to have an average PER and play more than half a game alongside Duncan was Ginobili, and that was at exactly 15 and with a low usage rate.

    We're not talking about the '95 Rockets, just the '94 Rockets. No Drexler. note that I didn't say "their title runs," I said "those title runs," specifically referring to those 2 runs alone.

  196. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Some of it comes down to fortunate matchups, and series-by-series production which can fluctuate wildly. In Mo Williams case, he played terrible against Orlando. He basically shot at a lower volume at a significantly worse percentage."

    Which is my point. Cleveland has enough talent to win now and at worst is a move here or there away from a title. The idea that Lebron couldn't win in Cleveland is ridiculous, as exhibited by Hakeen and Duncan. harder, probably, but not close to being impossible or even unlikely.

  197. Andy Says:

    Lebron's team was on the verge and he played poorly in some crucial games. This is about the fans, they are the ones that believe the players care about winning. Many players are like politicians in that respect. Fans are worried they only care about themselves and their glory and that they have no loyalty to their fans. Well in this case they are right and Lebron's statements about doing it for winning is disingenuous. Bill Simmons is right. If you have ever played any competitive sport you are in it to beat the guy across you. The alpha wins. Every team has an alpha and it is clear Lebron is not an alpha. Some people regardless of their talents or experience would rather be followers. This is Wades team. Lebron needs an alpha like Garnett did.

  198. huevonkiller Says:

    Why would LeBron be satisfied with just one title or two in Cleveland, and why is Andy ignorantly ignoring the Wade chokejobs in Games 1 and 4 against the Hawks? You can whine about Boston all you want LeBron has been the best player in the NBA the past couple of seasons and the most consistent.

    LeBron has basically outplayed Wade from 2007 onwards. The only reason he's not a "closer" is because he wasn't fortunate enough to have enough help when he took 06 Detroit and 08 Boston to seven games, or even against the 2010 Celtics and 2009 Magic. Oh and he probably wouldn't have gotten injured in 2005 conference Finals either.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=2607

    Simmons is a moron because he also doesn't know who's going to do what in the Future. And only shallow and jealous fans will hold it against James if he continues to be the best player in the NBA on a dynasty.

  199. themojojedi Says:

    "Why would LeBron be satisfied with just one title or two in Cleveland, and why is Andy ignorantly ignoring the Wade chokejobs in Games 1 and 4 against the Hawks?"

    I think you might be the one who doesn't understand simple concepts mate. Being an "Alpha" doesn't mean that you have never had a bad playoff game. Otherwise there would be no Alphas in NBA History. So what's the point of bringing up two Wade games in the first round while he's playing on a team with no chance at a title?

    Also, LeBron's revealed preference through his actions carry much more weight than his words in this matter. Why abandon his goal of wanting to win in Cleveland (rather than ring-chase) which he stated in 2006?: "I don't think I have an instinct like Kobe, where I just want to kill everybody. But I do want to be the best player on the court every time I step out there.It’s all about competing, about trying to be the best. It’s also important to me to make the team I’m on now the best. I don’t want to go ring-chasing, as I call it; you know, going to a team that’s already pretty established and trying to win a ring with them. I want to stay with the Cavs and build a champion. And I feel like we’re on our way."

  200. Anon x 2 Says:

    That Lebron is a better player than Wade is a non-sequitor, anyway. It matters not to the arguments being laid out.

    Also, statements like:

    "Oh and he probably wouldn't have gotten injured in 2005 conference Finals either."

    are not even worth addressing seriously.

    If only Wade was on the 2010 Cavs instead of Lebron. Wade probably would not have "injured" his elbow!

  201. huevonkiller Says:

    Wow you clearly missed the boat. I don't care about just one game, but clearly in this cryingfest certain people do. Using their logic they were simply exposed. It isn't my logic though.

    "I think you might be the one who doesn't understand simple concepts mate. Being an "Alpha" doesn't mean that you have never had a bad playoff game. Otherwise there would be no Alphas in NBA History. So what's the point of bringing up two Wade games in the first round while he's playing on a team with no chance at a title?"

    Oh they definitely lost a title in 2005 because they didn't have Wade at his best. That's actually a worse case, and being inferior in the playoffs is nothing to be proud of whether you're on a bad team or not.

    Wade played like garbage for LeBron's standards in various seasons, it doesn't matter if the team was a title contender or not. Just like Kobe has played like trash in the playoffs for LeBron's standards, from 2003-2007. That doesn't mean any of these guys is not an "alpha" just that hypocrites make me smile and want to point out different standards. I never said such and such player is not an "alpha" because of one game. I of course always prefer large sample sizes.

    Also, LeBron's revealed preference through his actions carry much more weight than his words in this matter. Why abandon his goal of wanting to win in Cleveland (rather than ring-chase) which he stated in 2006?: "I don't think I have an instinct like Kobe, where I just want to kill everybody. But I do want to be the best player on the court every time I step out there.It’s all about competing, about trying to be the best. It’s also important to me to make the team I’m on now the best. I don’t want to go ring-chasing, as I call it; you know, going to a team that’s already pretty established and trying to win a ring with them. I want to stay with the Cavs and build a champion. And I feel like we’re on our way."

    Hah you think I haven't seen this quote already? No you have nothing to complain about, what he "wants" is different from what he will not ever do. And what I "want" changes over the period of four years. I don't "want" the same things now compared to four years ago. Clearly they're going no where for his standards.

    He also said he thought Kobe was the best in the game back in 2006, then in 2008 he said Chris Paul was. So bring up that quote buddy. Ok then. ;)

  202. huevonkiller Says:

    "'Oh and he probably wouldn't have gotten injured in 2005 conference Finals either.'

    are not even worth addressing seriously.

    If only Wade was on the 2010 Cavs instead of Lebron. Wade probably would not have 'injured" his elbow!'"

    Yeah right, he gets hurt constantly over a 4 year period in his prime and that's just a coincidence?

    Kobe's a lot more durable than Wade that's where he makes up the difference in PER (at times) and other barometers.

  203. Ian Says:

    I have no problem with LeBron choosing to play in Miami- he definitely has the right to choose where he plays through free agency. I do, however, think that he invited the whole circus that the media played up, and it did turn my stomach to see him agree to an hour-long nationally televised feature to announce his decision.

  204. themojojedi Says:

    "Wow you clearly missed the boat. I don't care about just one game, but clearly in this cryingfest certain people do. Using their logic they were simply exposed. It isn't my logic though."

    How does bringing up two Wade games completely unrelated to the point he was making expose his logic?

  205. NYChris248 Says:

    Neil, if you insist:

    "Basketball is all about sharing, about unselfishness, about legends like Bill Russell doing whatever it takes to win. But apparently it's also about who has the bigger... um, contract."

    Even those pushing the Alpha Male theory are not focusing on the contracts. It's that LeBron is going to a team where Wade is already the top dog. I know you're just glibly using this as a lead paragraph, but you're already slightly misrepresenting the opposition.

    "You see, all we heard these past few days was whether LeBron and D-Wade could co-exist as "Alpha Males"..."

    All we heard? In fact, a lot of what I heard, especially on ESPN, was how noble it was that LeBron was sacrificing so much to win. "All we heard" misrepresenting the content of the general reaction to his decision.

    "...or that LBJ joining Wade in Miami is supposedly something a true "Alpha Male" (ostensibly referring to Kobe or MJ) would never do"

    This you definitely have heard from Simmons, although it's still far from "all we heard".

    "It's curious that this hyper-macho view of basketball first began to emerge less than two decades ago, though. Like a commenter said yesterday, the Michael Jordan era was so transformative that we may very well have have convinced ourselves that the MJ-Pippen formula (and the Alpha-Beta designations contained therein) is the only way to view the game."

    Actually, you're misrepresenting Themojojedi's comment here as well, which is not exactly a straw man because you used his statement in support of yourself. His comment was about the idea that your #1 player is as much better than your #2 as Jordan was over Pippen... that those subjective differences in ability should not be applied across-the-board. He can chime in himself, but I don't think his comment was saying there wasn't an Alpha and a Beta (otherwise, why call one player a #1 and a #2 in his comment?).

    "Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball."

    This is pure straw, you've reduced a 700 page book to one fallacious statement. I'm actually not a Simmons fan, but I read and enjoyed his book, and I found it to be a wide-ranging, overflowing attempt to survey the modern history of the game. Whether it's successful or not is beside the point, by no means is his book a reductive revision of the league to only match the Alpha Male view of the game. If anything he doesn't stay on point enough, piling on addendums and online supplements that often contradict his own points, or show him changing his mind (and those points where he does contradict himself or where he's driven by New England homerism, he's pretty blatant about).

    "Yet in those same pages Simmons also extolled the virtues of "The Secret", which is allegedly about sacrificing numbers, money, and individual glory for team success"

    And right after you reduce his book to one phrase, you expand it to attack it for being contradictory (even though the book is well aware of the struggles and contradictions around this idea).

    "Well, isn't what LeBron did last night the living embodiment of The Secret, leaving millions on the table and turning himself into a hometown villain, all for the sake of winning?"

    Still to be determined how much sacrifice is actually involved, but I can see how on the surface it feels aligned with "The Secret".

    "If Vince Lombardi was right and "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing" "

    This quote is actually disputed a bit. One of the corrections is "winning isn't everything, the will to win is the only thing." And I think it's on this point where people are attacking LeBron (aside from the narcissistic, hamhanded publicity circus).

    "But the dirty secret of commentators like Simmons is that winning by itself is not good enough -- you apparently also have to win while simultaneously vanquishing the idea of another male rival sharing your spotlight, because god forbid that another Alpha could possibly question your hoops authority when you're doing all that winning."

    I don't even quite know what you are getting at here, but your claims to know the "dirty secret" is just an entry to willfully misrepresenting Simmons' and others' position. This is exactly what a straw man is, you're exaggerating and distorting the other side in precisely the way that you see it to be ridiculous.

    "Oh, but I forgot, basketball is the ultimate team game, and it's all about sacrificing stats and glory for championships, right?"

    Blank sarcasm aside, I don't see these positions as contradictory. I think there is a different point people feel with LeBron, that somehow he is abdicating from a leadership position that, given his ability, he should be taking.

  206. huevonkiller Says:

    You're a bit crazy, I'm comparing two peers using the same standards. In fact I should have thrown some Kobe chokejobs in there since you want to play that game. Analogies friend, I don't need to stick to one player in this discussion.

    His logic is that, paraphrasing, "X person played poorly in a playoff stretch of games, let me criticize him as a unique of loser". What kind of barometer is that? I applied that standard to another player so that barometer ends up looking stupid. It isn't my idea or logic.

  207. huevonkiller Says:

    Meant for Mojo. ;)

    *unique type of loser

  208. huevonkiller Says:

    NYChris fill me in on something, exactly what is it that you have a problem with mostly (brief recap please)? I mean he's still the most talented and youngest superstar on that team, and they're poised to win multiple titles.

    To me it just seems like sour grapes over his personality during "The Decision".

  209. Neil Paine Says:

    A response, if you insist:

    1. Look, if you're going to use introductory hyperbole against me, fine, guilty. You're right, you may have actually "heard" other things last week. Far be it from me to catalogue everything you "heard"... (I mean, really?)

    2. One logical conclusion of Themojojedi's comment is that it's possible that the two top players could be so great and so close in ability that neither could be designated "Alpha" or "Beta".

    3. Show me exactly where I said revising NBA history to fit that theory was the only function of The Book of Basketball... Seriously, show it to me. I said the book did revise history for the pre-Jordan era, for the majority of which the conception of an "Alpha Dog" didn't necessarily exist, but I never claimed that was all the book did (hello, straw man!)...

    4. Okay, forgive me for using the popular conception of the Lombardi quote instead of what may have come out of his mouth verbatim (again, really?)

    5. I will grant you your last point(s), I was summarizing what Simmons' position seems to be from his rankings, but he never actually came out and said that specifically. My general dispute with Simmons is that he came out criticizing James last week for going to Miami, when on the back cover of his 700-page book about basketball history he says, and I quote:

    "I care that someone walked away from a guaranteed title (or more) because he selfishly wanted to win on his terms, and I care that someone gave away 20 percent of his minutes or numbers because that sacrifice made his team better."

    So here we have LeBron walking towards a guaranteed title (or more) and wanting to win on someone else's terms, giving away 20% of his numbers because that sacrifice will make the Heat better... And Simmons is criticizing him for it. How does that make any sense?

  210. P Middy Says:

    NYChris- I don't think there's anyway to argue that Simmons, (and most of us, I actually agree with Simmons on this point), doesn't promote that to be truly great, you have to be the main cause of the leader of your team. This is why Robert Horry doesn't get the same accolades as Kobe Bryant.

    Besides, any book that consistently argues that winning and championships are the most important thing in the sport, then ranks Jason Kidd ahead of Clyde Drexler on the top 100 can't really be trusted a source of objective reason. Never mind that the tome is riddled with historical inconsistencies, or down right deceptive writing (one passage I specifically remember was Simmons using Garnett's career numbers to aggrandize his stay in Boston - as if the greatness of Garnett in Boston had anything to do with stats).

    There's no substance to any claim of who is top dog on Miami right now. By the all star break, we will know who is the engine, and who is the wheels. Just because Wade is the incumbent star on the team, it does not guarantee that he will be the primary leader, or that it will remain "his" team. Just because LeBron has two MVP awards, it does not guarantee that he will be the primary leader either.

  211. NYChris248 Says:

    @Huevonkiller
    I'm actually most offended by the hyperbole and distortions around the whole thing. I haven't really said in this thread how I feel about LeBron. I just don't think saying it's a noble sacrifice on his part is accurate.

    I'll try to briefly recap my feelings: I think there is some truth to the idea that LeBron wants his rings, and that this decision is an easier route to them. There is a competitive part of me that is disappointed in that. However, I think perhaps he doesn't subscribe to the Alpha Male theory, realized he doesn't fit into it (as one of the older quotes above from him states), and so this decision is in recognition of that. If the decision is based on that self-awareness, then it's a smart and mature move. (As for another however, I'm skeptical about how much self-awareness he has, given how horrible his decision were around the Decision.)

    To those of you pushing this idea that it's a team-focused decision, will you be as annoyed as I am if, when they win a ring, LeBron reverts to his cocky Alpha behavior? He was not exactly a gracious winner (or loser). Please note, I am saying IF he does. And... IF he does, that would indicate to me that he likes being the Alpha Male when he's a frontrunner.

    @Neil
    I actually didn't insist on a response from you. You asked me to show where you had misrepresented the arguments you were writing against (this after you questioned if some of us even knew what a straw man was). I did that. You're free to concede and then dismiss the points, I was responding to your claim that you hadn't made straw man arguments. The fact that you are willing to accept a potentially incorrect Lombardi quote to support your argument is _exactly_ the spirit of what a straw man is. You are distorting the context of a discussion that it starts with a tilted field towards your opinion.

    As for his book, you wrote "Heck, Bill Simmons even wrote a 700-page book that revises the entirety of NBA history to match that ultramasculine theory of basketball." Considering the book is called "The Book of Basketball: The NBA According to the Sports Guy", I think it's a logical conclusion that the phrase "entirety of NBA history" implies what the primary function of the book is. And I already acknowledged that you expanded your perception of the book (in order to attack Simmons for being contradictory).

    I also think you are completely wrong that the Alpha Dog didn't exist before Jordan.

    "giving away 20% of his numbers" -- This, I'll believe when I see. We can talk about it when it happens.

    @P Middy
    I would never go to Simmons for objective reason. The book's subtitle is "The NBA According to the Sports Guy". I think he's pretty up front that he's a subjective, biased writer.

    I agree that we should wait and see on all of this. I can see Wade passing the team's mantle to LeBron over the next 2-3 seasons.

  212. Bill Reynolds Says:

    Neil -- @ 209.

    Look, Simmons can be an idiot, and anyone who writes the reams and reams of stuff he does is bound to contradict himself (and certainly to repeat himself).

    There is no such thing as a guaranteed title. What LeBron did was leave one championship contender for (presumably) another. The Cavs had the best record in the NBA the last two seasons. That is a rare accomplishment, that has been done in back-to-back years in the shot clock era only by the 57-65 Celtics, the 66-68 Sixers, the 80-82 Celtics, 84-86 Celtics, 87-88 Lakers, and 96-97 Bulls. The 09-10 Cavs are the first team to accomplish this without winning a championship during the streak. The Cavs are the only team in the NBA to have won at least six playoff games in each of the last five seasons. If LeBron had re-signed with them, they absolutely would have been one of the top three title contenders for 2011. Yes, they disappointed in the playoffs in 2010 (which may well have been at least in part because of James "quitting" in the last few games with an eye on his move to Miami, as Dan Gilbert alleges, and certainly might have been corrected by the new coaching approach of Byron Scott), but it is ludicrous to suggest (as J.A. Adande and others have, and as LeBron seems to believe) that they had "proven" they could not win a title with this group.

    In effect, LeBron gave up (by leaving Cleveland) about as good of a chance to win a championship as an athlete can reasonably ask for, precisely "because he selfishly wanted to win on his terms" -- that is, without the burden of being the team leader, and without any responsibility for the expectations of the team's fans.

    I disagree with those who say the real offense was the special, not the departure. The departure was a tremendous offense. The Cavs spent 7 years building a team around LeBron, with an excellent supporting cast -- Williams, Varejao, Hickson, now Shaq and Jamison just in the last year. It was a championship caliber team. For LeBron to walk away from it before the team won a championship was a betrayal -- especially because James is only 25.

    We can all assume that a team of All-Stars would win the NBA championship. So it would prove nothing if one did so. Should all the best players in the league collude to join one team as free agents (which is evidently what Wade, Bosh, and James did)? Is doing so admirable, simply because they are "walking towards a guaranteed title (or more)"?

  213. Neil Paine Says:

    #211: Gee, would it help if I changed "Vince Lombardi" to "Henry Russell Sanders"?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Winning_isn%27t_everything;_it%27s_the_only_thing

  214. Neil Paine Says:

    We've already been over how much of the Cavs' success over the past was due to LeBron alone, and how bad the Cavs were/will be without him:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6812

    We've already established that the new Heat could be record-breakingly good next season:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6859

    The past two playoffs have established that if James doesn't play at an MVP level, the Cavs don't advance (in 2009, he actually did play at an MVP level and still didn't advance). We've established that LeBron and Kobe played at the same level in their 2010 Boston series:

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6618

    I'm not sure how much more proof you need that his supporting cast in Cleveland was not "excellent", and that he has a far better probability of winning a title on the 2011 Heat than he would have on the 2011 Cavs.

  215. P Middy Says:

    You know what I'd like to see? A poll (omitting Cleveland fans) that asks "Where you a fan of LeBron James before 7/8/2010?" and "Are you fan of his now?"

    My guess is that the vast majority of folks would answer the two questions exactly the same. That is to say, leaving Cleveland for NY, Miami, or any other location would result in the same criticisms. In fact, if you look at them, they are the same criticisms lobbied against him before the trade: he is not an alpha, he doesn't want the responsibility of the win/loss, he's not a winner, he's a quitter.

    Conversely, those of us who were James fans before hand, are not thinking about any of those issue/criticisms - just like prior to the trade. We are just sitting in anticipation of what he and Wade and Bosh can do together. We want to see the "amazing" of it, letting him slide on every issue associated with it, except how he made the announcement, which not even the most die hard fan could approve of.

  216. Neil Paine Says:

    More fun: Redeem Team stats...

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6947

  217. Yocar Says:

    Neil:

    Lebron took the coward's way out stop trying to defend him, his legacy will never be the same as other great players. His decision was the wrong one, simple as that. I don't like Simmons but i agree with almost everything he said in his article....In May, after the Cavs were ousted in the conference semifinals, I wrote that LeBron was facing one of the greatest sports decisions ever: "winning (Chicago), loyalty (Cleveland) or a chance at immortality (New York)."

    I never thought he would pick "HELP!'' i'm laughing as i write this because the few people defending lebron in here would crush kobe or any other star if they had made a decision similar to lebron's. man this is so stupid

  218. Anon Says:

    "I disagree with those who say the real offense was the special, not the departure. The departure was a tremendous offense. The Cavs spent 7 years building a team around LeBron, with an excellent supporting cast -- Williams, Varejao, Hickson, now Shaq and Jamison just in the last year. It was a championship caliber team."

    Show me their career PLAYOFF numbers and I'll show YOU a vastly different team than the one you're describing in your post.

    And yes, I know Shaq has been a playoff beast before. But he doesn't exactly count now at age 38.

  219. Anon Says:

    "Lebron took the coward's way out stop trying to defend him, his legacy will never be the same as other great players."

    You're right. All the other "great" players do is win titles playing one-on-five basketball.

    Now pardon me while I take another sip of my sarcasm herbal tea.

  220. Yocar Says:

    @ Anon:

    Ask lebron how does it feel to be Robin.

  221. Anon Says:

    @ #220

    I'm pretty sure Bron has been a better player than Wade for years now. But I thought for the "rings to rank players fanatics" all that matters is winning, right? If he wins those titles I'm absolutely positive he'll take them over being the "alpha" on a team that doesn't win one.

  222. Gil Meriken Says:

    #85

    "#79. So Gil, just so I can get this straight -- when Kobe and Shaq break up a dynasty and leave several more potential championships on the table because of ego, that's okay? But LeBron and Wade sacrificing individual numbers and glory in order to win a championship together, that's not okay?

    I'm pretty sure your mentality is exactly what I was ranting about."

    I've been consistent on my viewpoint.

    Lebron just went too far on the other end of the "all about winning" spectrum, and you can go too far in my book.

    Let's take the "sacrifice" to the extreme - what if Lebron took his talents to the Italian League instead of South Beach, so that he could win multiple titles there? Too far, I think we can agree. OK, he wants an NBA title. What if he took the minimum salary to play with the Lakers with Kobe and Gasol? Too far, correct? Teaming up with one of the top five players in the league to win (I don't know where you put Wade, so I put top five)? Not nearly as bad as the first two examples, but still on the "too far" spectrum.

  223. Yocar Says:

    @ #222:

    LeBron James had every right to leave Cleveland. It was the way he did it that ruins his legacy. Why not go to chicago? they had a lot of pieces in place that with james would had become automatically a title contender with him being the leader. Instead he took the easy way out and joined a top 3 player in wade (btw the heat are wades's team) and a top 3 PF, afraid of failure, afraid of 'being the man', afraid of carrying too much load. This decision said a lot about james heart and courage

  224. P Middy Says:

    Don't forget, Wade and Bosh are afraid too. They lack as much heart and courage as LeBron does, or they would reject his bid to be on their team, right?

  225. Yocar Says:

    of course, wade and bosh are cowards just like lebron. only that this is wade's team, remember that.

  226. Jason J Says:

    Middy, Wade is the biggest coward of them all, recruiting good players to join his team like a loser. If he'd been real real, he woulda demanded Riley only resign him and then go get the rest of the team from Dolphin's cheerleading team.

    It's just like Spacejam when Jordan forced the team to play Bill Murray and Daffy Duck. He had to be the dominant force on the team, or beating the Monstars wouldn't have counted. If he'd have allowed David Rabbitson and Charles Cluckley and other All-NBA caliber cartoon rodents and fowl that I'm making up right now to be on the team, he'd have lost all credibility as the guy who did the most work for the team to win.

    People just don't know their WB-basketball history. Also John Hoggton was going to be the cartoon pig point guard until Jordan nixed it.

  227. Neil Paine Says:

    I think Kobe should have refused to play for the Lakers when they drafted him, because Shaq was there. Michael should have encouraged more Brad Sellers-style picks from Jerry Krause, instead of those pesky Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen selections. And Kareem should have told the Lakers to pick Kyle Macy instead of Magic.

  228. Gil Meriken Says:

    It's just a matter of taste.

    When you play pickup basketball, assuming you get to choose teams - do you like to stack your team? Do you like to have the teams as evenly matched as possible? Do you want to be the underdog?

  229. Yocar Says:

    LOL loved the space jam example Jason J

  230. Yocar Says:

    it's not the same Neil, you're totally missing the point here. Lebron ran away from a chance at greatness and don't tell me the cavs didn't had a chance of winning. 2 years in a row with the best record and they failed, lebron just was scared to keep failing over and over again and ran into wade's team. Is not the same as if you're already on the team and u ask for help like so many players have done, hey no one wins title by themselves but great players like lebron need to show more heart and courage. he clearly lacks both.

  231. Anon x 2 Says:

    Bosh isn't a #1 on any contending team, though.

    Wade comes out looking like a hero. He already won as a #1.

  232. Anon x 2 Says:

    "demanded Riley only resign him and then go get the rest of the team from Dolphin's cheerleading team"

    I don't know about you, but if I was Wade, this would totally be my option. I couldn't wait to hit the showers.

  233. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Michael should have encouraged more Brad Sellers-style picks from Jerry Krause, instead of those pesky Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen selections."

    Well, to be accurate, didn't Michael lament the Pippen pick and wanted someone else (I forgot which player).

  234. Yocar Says:

    Exactly Anon X 2, Wade wins lebron loses. this is wade's team and lebron admitted he needed wade's help to win by jumping into his arms. then u add that wade has already won and has a finals mvp and then u reach the conclusion that lebron decided o be a #2 option.

  235. P Middy Says:

    "Is not the same as if you're already on the team and u ask for help like so many players have done,"

    I am genuinely curious to know why. How would this situation play out in your mind if Wade and Bosh went to Cleveland? Is your opinion of LeBron different in that scenario?

  236. Yocar Says:

    Yes, in that case Wade and Bosh would be jumping on lebron's back because it's his team. simple as that, Miami is wade town, cleveland was lebron's team but he decided to join wade admiting he needed extra help to win. in fact winning in miami could be harder with 3 stars and a bunch of scrubs, now they are gonna lose haslem, fisher is staying in LA and they still got no center hahaha.

  237. Anon Says:

    @ Youcar

    "Why not go to chicago?"

    Because both Rose and Boozer are overrated. Boozer isn't as overrated as Rose, but Boozer isn't a playoff performer. Wade is.

    "then u add that wade has already won and has a finals mvp and then u reach the conclusion that lebron decided o be a #2 option."

    Even Wade needed plenty of help to win in the Finals. It came in the from of Miami's defense, anchored by Shaq, Zo, Haslem, and Posey.

    @ Anon X2

    "Of course I don't mean prime or near-prime Parker and Ginobili. I'm referring to the 2003 Spurs team where Parker was horrible in the playoffs and was benched in the 4th quarters of games for Speedy Claxton, where Robinson played less than half a game. the only player to have an average PER and play more than half a game alongside Duncan was Ginobili, and that was at exactly 15 and with a low usage rate."

    PER doesn't do defense well, and that's EXACTLY what helped the Spurs win that year (barely average offense in the playoffs, terrific defense). Duncan had one of the best playoffs ever by a single player that season, but Robsinson and Ginobili still racked up 2 WS a piece, mainly because they (along with Bruce Bowen) helped Duncan man a championship defense.

  238. P Middy Says:

    "Yes, in that case Wade and Bosh would be jumping on lebron's back because it's his team. simple as that, Miami is wade town, cleveland was lebron's team but he decided to join wade admiting he needed extra help to win."

    So let me get this straight. Wade, Bosh, and LeBron decide they want to play together. If they all go to Cleveland, LeBron is a stand up guy and the other two are losers who couldn't cut it themselves. If they got to Miami, Wade is the stand up guy. If they go to Toronto, it's Bosh.

    You don't think you're putting a little to much emphasis on geography here?

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Here's another side question. Are LeBron and Bosh really joining "Wade's team" considering that there is no one else but Mario Chalmers on the roster? I mean, if you've got a brand new team, how can there be an incumbent? It's like stripping your Mustang down to the engine, putting it in a 300 body and calling it the same car, right?

  239. Jason J Says:

    Anon X 2 - It was the Horace Grant pick that Jordan despised. He wanted Joe Wolf of all people. Even then he was a terrible GM.

  240. Anon x 2 Says:

    "PER doesn't do defense well, and that's EXACTLY what helped the Spurs win that year (barely average offense in the playoffs, terrific defense). Duncan had one of the best playoffs ever by a single player that season, but Robsinson and Ginobili still racked up 2 WS a piece, mainly because they (along with Bruce Bowen) helped Duncan man a championship defense."

    And Parker was hardly a good defender then, and as I said benched in the 4th quarters. Robinson played less than half a game in the playoffs. Ginobili picked up his game, but he was not a #2 option.

    Duncan won without a clear-cut #2 option and with a cast that cannot be argued as remotely better than what Lebron had.

  241. Anon x 2 Says:

    Also, for people out of the loop, Haslem is staying with the Heat, announced today.

  242. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Anon X 2 - It was the Horace Grant pick that Jordan despised. He wanted Joe Wolf of all people. Even then he was a terrible GM."

    As I remember it, Jordan wanted Wolfe + Grant/Polynice, but never wanted Pippen (He prefered Wolfe + Polynice).

  243. Gil Meriken Says:

    #227

    Too far the other way.

  244. Jason J Says:

    I'm getting my info from David Halberstam's "Playing for Keeps: Michael Jordan and the World He Made" (GREAT sports book), and he describes it as a choice between Grant, Wolf, and Olden where MJ wanted Wolf. I was like 10 years old then, so I don't really remember the draft or the rumors at the time (if they even had those kinds of rumors back then).

    I do know that Jordan doubted Pippen's mental toughness and challenged him constantly, so I wouldn't be shocked if he was down on the pick.

    I guess it doesn't matter because it doesn't really factor here. Jordan wasn't trying to pick crappy players instead of good ones to add additional challenges (which apparently is what LeBron should be doing) while Boston was still spanking his team in the playoffs every year. He was just (is just) a lousy judge of talent.

  245. Anon x 2 Says:

    oh, no doubt. i just found Neil's sarcastic comment funny since Jordan did want Wolf over Pippen.

    I don't think anyone would complain if Bosh went to Cleveland, either.

    I think most of all people are disappointed because they wanted to see Wade vs Lebron playoff series where both players had good teams and both with #2 options. Something like Bosh in Cleveland and Amar'e in Miami would have worked out nicely.

  246. P Middy Says:

    ESPN reports they've got Miller now. That's a starting 5, if you want to put Miller at 3 and Bron at 1. The heat are looking at getting a legit 1, still.

  247. Jason J Says:

    G - Wade
    G - Miller
    F - LeBron (Point Forward)
    F - Haslem
    C - Bosh

    OR

    G - Chalmers
    G - Wade
    F - Miller
    F - LeBron (Power Forward)
    C - Bosh

    hmmm... both are fast, athletic and explosive... both are in trouble up front against healthy Orlando, Boston, or LA. Where the great Joel Anthony, the real Alpha on this team?

  248. Anon Says:

    "And Parker was hardly a good defender then, and as I said benched in the 4th quarters. Robinson played less than half a game in the playoffs. Ginobili picked up his game, but he was not a #2 option.

    Duncan won without a clear-cut #2 option and with a cast that cannot be argued as remotely better than what Lebron had."

    Doesn't matter. Someone has to be there holding down the fort defensively and still making buckets offensively when Tim is not in the game (D-Rob), and someone has to be supporting the team's perimeter D (Manu and Bowen). I'm not taking anything away from Tim because he was amazing, but let's not act like other guys weren't also making significant contributions to the title run.

    Duncan would not win that title without any help, just like any other player. Otherwise, you would just get something like what the Cavs did in the '09 ECF against the Magic -- a player playing brilliantly (LeBron) but with no support elsewhere on either end of the floor.

  249. P Middy Says:

    JOEL ANTHONY SON!!!!

  250. Anon x 2 Says:

    "oesn't matter. Someone has to be there holding down the fort defensively and still making buckets offensively when Tim is not in the game (D-Rob), and someone has to be supporting the team's perimeter D (Manu and Bowen). I'm not taking anything away from Tim because he was amazing, but let's not act like other guys weren't also making significant contributions to the title run.

    Duncan would not win that title without any help, just like any other player. Otherwise, you would just get something like what the Cavs did in the '09 ECF against the Magic -- a player playing brilliantly (LeBron) but with no support elsewhere on either end of the floor."

    Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing he did everything on his own. My only point is he won a title without a clear-cut #2 offensive option and his supporting cast overall was no more talented than what Lebron has had this season (not at a significant level, anyway).

    My point is that "Lebron couldn't win a title in Cleveland" is baseless. As I said, tougher than Miami? probably, but far from impossible or improbable.

  251. huevonkiller Says:

    @250

    Who cares, it wasn't the greatest individual playoff run either. It came down to other external factors (fortune too) which is what led to that title. Yes anyone can win a title when they play with LeBron and Cleveland did have a chance. I don't think that's the point you should get hung up on though.

    I don't care about Cleveland, it matters zero percent to me that he back stabbed them. I would back stab (metaphorically) any player, coach, or GM if it got me titles and Finals MVPs and other playoff glory. He'll probably collect more awards in the post-season than anyone else in this upcoming decade (maybe regular season too). That's what killer instinct is to me. Over the long haul he made the right decision, he gets to save some of his energy for the playoffs and then he can just unload on teams. That's another underrated advantage.

  252. Anon x 2 Says:

    The more and more you post, the more and more I think you're Maverick Carter

  253. BSK Says:

    Late to the game here, but hopefully not TOO late.

    Let's say all the criticism LeBron is receiving is accurate. He's not an "alpha". He's afraid of failing. He doesn't want to be "#1". Etc, etc, etc.

    Why is that such a HUGE deal? Did he ever say he wanted those things? Did he ever proclaim himself any of that? Sure, in certain ways he did. But a lot of that was foisted and projected upon him.

    We are ascribing values to him that we WANT him to have but none that he ever actually demonstrated to possess. And now we want to fault him for not having them? We wanted pure, transcendent greatness from him and because he demonstrated a ridiculously high skill/talent level, we assumed that this was indicative of his character across the board and that his tenacity and machismo and leadership rivaled his basketball skills. Maybe they didn't and maybe they never will. And that's cool.

    How many of us want to be the absolute all-time greatest at our job? How many of us sacrifice happiness to fulfill all the virtues associated with our profession? I'll use myself as an example. I am a teacher and a very passionate one at that. I believe firmly in the pursuit of education. But I'm also a man. A man with a fiance and a wedding to plan and plans for kids and plans for remaining sane. I choose not to work in the neediest schools with the most at risk kids, because I know I'm not cut out for it, not right now, and it would involve sacrifices I'm not willing to make right now. I applaud those teachers who take that on but, right now, that's not me. Am I somehow guilty of not loving teaching enough? I suppose you could make that argument, but is that really fair?

    I recognize LeBron has some responsibility for this. He took on the "King" moniker and talked about bringing a championship to Cleveland. But, ultimately, we have to look ourselves in the mirror. If we are disappointed in LeBron, that has as much to do with our outsized expectations for him than it does his failure to fill them. Sure, some guys are those uber-alpha's... Jordan, Kobe, probably Bird. But they're anomalies, not the norm. We romance the past and say they were all like that back then, but we know that's not the case. We wanted LeBron to be something he's probably not, and probably never was, and probably never will be. I don't think that was fair to ask and demand of him. There is a lot to criticize him for, but let's not criticize him for not being Kobe or MJ. He's LeBron, all the good and bad of it, and that's that.

  254. boom-tho-is-a-movement Says:

    I don't think Kobe is more of an alpha than Lebron. The media has just portrayed him that way. Kobe tried to bail on the Lakers in 2007. Lebron is more productive in the clutch than Kobe. Where is the evidence that Kobe is an alpha and Lebron isn't?

  255. Gil Meriken Says:

    254.

    Where is the evidence that Lebron has won a championship as the main contributor?

  256. Anon x 2 Says:

    I don't like when people compare our professions to those of an athlete. They're really not comparable.

    Anyway, he has a tattoo of "The Chosen One" on his back. Kind of hard to argue he didn't bring this status upon himself...

  257. huevonkiller Says:

    @252

    Sorry but I would have simply done the same.

    @BSK

    He said he's going to lead Miami to a title, his words. The season hasn't started and he's still the best passer and scorer on Miami's team. His skills haven't been lost overnight dude, in fact the most games he's ever missed in a season is 7.

    Magic won MVPs distributing as well (not that he'll be that passive either). I think you're the one assigning misguided roles onto him. Wade is Mini-LeBron, he's not even a better jumpshooter (a eFG% difference of about 4%) or FT shooter.

    You haven't been around here much. Kobe's not in LeBron's league. You can look up the mountains of great blog posts Neil did.

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6618

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6618

    http://www.basketball-reference.com/blog/?p=6859

    Kobe was never as good comparing primes. And Kobe has more Win Shares in a single season than Wade. LeBron is just in his own league, rightfully so. He even has a higher playoff WS/48 than his regular season production, a rare trait.

    He took less money to start a dynasty. That's why he left and I thought it was a genius move.

  258. BSK Says:

    256-
    Even that was put upon him at an extremely young age. See here:http://www.obsessedwithsports.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/Si-cover-lebron-james.jpeg

    And why can't we compare our profession to theirs? The idea that they are so utterly different from us is simply false. Their profession is different, yes, but not so much so that it demands unwavering dedication and absolutely pure intentions.

  259. Anon Says:

    "Oh, don't get me wrong. I'm not arguing he did everything on his own. My only point is he won a title without a clear-cut #2 offensive option and his supporting cast overall was no more talented than what Lebron has had this season (not at a significant level, anyway)."

    Okay I understand you, but this goes back to the question about talent vs. ACTUAL production (or "value"). Could LeBron's teammates be as talented or more talented than Duncan's running-mates? Possibly. Could Bill Simmons be right in saying that Rasheed Wallace really was the most "talented player" ever? Maybe. But that doesn't matter, because we can't prove it either way. What we CAN show is what they did on the court, and the fact that LeBron's teammates were, in the playoffs, not as nearly as productive as Duncan's Spurs in 2003. The closest you'll probably get is in 2007, and the Cavs were beat by a still MORE productive Spurs team in the Finals.

    Talented or not, LeBron wants to win now. And I don't blame him for leaving Cleveland instead of staying to see if Mo Williams can finally prove in the playoffs that bricklaying is a separate activity from playing the game of basketball.

  260. P Middy Says:

    Mo's trying to get that patio built.

  261. P Middy Says:

    You guy here the sigh of relief from Milwaukee all the way in Madison when they shipped him off.

  262. NYChris248 Says:

    I think Wade/Miller/Haslem/James/Bosh actually makes for some pretty exciting playoff series next year. Would Haslem or Bosh pick up Dwight Howard? Bosh on Bynum and Haslem on Pau? Who's bringing the interior shotblocking?

    I can see Miller having some Ray Allen-like performances in critical games ... both good and bad. He's going to be more open than he ever has before.

  263. P Middy Says:

    Agreed, NYChris. They still need another 6-10 to 7-0 guy. (*cough JOEL ANTHONY, SON *cough). Gotta be able to match the Lakers and Celtics on size if you're going to be competitive in a series with them.

  264. Jason J Says:

    I've read that both Shaq and Ilgauskas are at least mildly interesting in following LeBron to Miami. Don't necessarily think they'd be great fits (I'm picturing high tempo) but that would be yet another kick to the crotch of Cleveland.

  265. BSK Says:

    Huevonkiller-

    Was that really intended for me? I think you might have meant that for someone else.

  266. P Middy Says:

    ESPN reports that Big Z is on board in Miami @ the vet's minimum (1.4)

  267. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Okay I understand you, but this goes back to the question about talent vs. ACTUAL production (or "value"). Could LeBron's teammates be as talented or more talented than Duncan's running-mates? Possibly. Could Bill Simmons be right in saying that Rasheed Wallace really was the most "talented player" ever? Maybe. But that doesn't matter, because we can't prove it either way. What we CAN show is what they did on the court, and the fact that LeBron's teammates were, in the playoffs, not as nearly as productive as Duncan's Spurs in 2003. The closest you'll probably get is in 2007, and the Cavs were beat by a still MORE productive Spurs team in the Finals."

    The question we have to ask is WHY did the team's talent drop off so significantly in the playoffs versus the regular season, is it not? Lebron's teammates were more productive than '03 Duncan's during the regular season...so why the discontinuity?

  268. P Middy Says:

    Because the intensity of basketball is steeply raised in the playoffs, and maybe the shorter rotations affected them. But basically, you need to elevate your game in the playoffs if you're going to hang. Mo Williams and company just don't seem to have that in them.

  269. Anon Says:

    "The question we have to ask is WHY did the team's talent drop off so significantly in the playoffs versus the regular season, is it not? Lebron's teammates were more productive than '03 Duncan's during the regular season...so why the discontinuity?"

    Perhaps because when they match-up with the Magic and Celtics of the world for a 7-game playoff series instead of beating up on lesser opponents during the regular season, they get exposed. It also doesn't help that Mike Brown wasn't exactly putting the best lineups out there that would give his team the best chance to win (basketballvalue.com sheds some insight on this one).

    Why do you think playoff production is so valuable in basketball? In the playoffs you have better defenses and smaller sample sizes. Players that can counter both effects will get your team farther than others.

  270. Anon x 2 Says:

    They also struggled vs the Bulls.

    And you'd have to compare them to those teams over the years, as well.

    And you have to look at Lebron's production. Remember, Neil pointed out how large the STD was in his SPM over the 6 game series.

    I agree with your points, so don't mistake what I'm saying. But there's more than one answer to this. I don't want to get into it, but I think Lebron shoulders some of the blame, even before that game 5 debacle.

  271. Anon x 2 Says:

    "Because the intensity of basketball is steeply raised in the playoffs, and maybe the shorter rotations affected them. But basically, you need to elevate your game in the playoffs if you're going to hang. Mo Williams and company just don't seem to have that in them."

    The ability to elevate one's game in the playoffs. This is a skill? Any statistical evidence for such a claim? This seems a lot like "clutch."

  272. huevonkiller Says:

    Are you pinning the Bulls on LeBron too? What don't you "want to get into" ?

    You should look at WS/48 in the playoffs and post-season. You'll be able to identify those that play above their regular levels. Usually most players have a dip in that stat. The great ones don't though.

  273. huevonkiller Says:

    *regular season and post-season

  274. Anon Says:

    "And you have to look at Lebron's production. Remember, Neil pointed out how large the STD was in his SPM over the 6 game series."

    That same post (which is based on a ridiculously small sample size btw) also concluded that if your teammates play like garbage, your squad isn't beating Boston, or any other team for that matter, even with a more "consistent" series. So ultimately, you ARE as good as your team in a sense. As I've always said, it's easy to look sooooooo good when your team wins in a team sport. Winning appeals to the passions, and not so much to reason -- which is why I absoutely think LeBron winning a ring in Miami will quell the whole "he 'cheated' for his ring" in the history books.

    Over a much larger sample of his entire playoffs career, LeBron has always played well. Hopefully that will finally translate to rings alongside other great playoff performer in Wade.

  275. Pageup Says:

    what's the record for the longest blog? I'm starting to think this one is on the juice...

  276. P Middy Says:

    "The ability to elevate one's game in the playoffs. This is a skill? Any statistical evidence for such a claim? This seems a lot like "clutch."

    I'm sure there are. But I'm going on 50 years of NBA players saying so. They might know what they're talking about.

  277. Anon x 2 Says:

    "I'm sure there are. But I'm going on 50 years of NBA players saying so. They might know what they're talking about."

    Majority also say Kobe is the best player in the game. I guess that settles that, then.

  278. P Middy Says:

    Good point. Personally, what active players say about the game and each other weighs heavily on my opinions, especially when stats back it up (check out Mo's precipitous drop in FG% in the playoffs the past two years). They're in the thick of it, they know what it takes.

    At the very least, when their opinions contradict my own, it causes me to investigate my opinions - rather than dismissing them because what they say doesn't fit into the narrative I want to believe.

  279. Jason J Says:

    Carefully, Middy. You sound frighteningly reasonable for a blog-commenter. You don't want to get pwned or whatever it is that happens to the kids these days. Geek-served?

  280. Sean Says:

    I just want the NBA (they read this blog, right?) to cover up LeBron from the waist down if they are going to continue to allow him to take 3 steps, then a hop step with no traveling called. He ball handles like an Austrailian Rules Football Player, running---then a bounce here or there... it's not basketball.

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