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|Lebron James Before “The Decision” Make Up Team Got At Him.|
I know this has been done to death. Is there really a need for another article about The Decision? Maybe not, but when writers I respect like Bill Simmons say:
And as a basketball fan, it continues to be hard for me to accept that someone who had a chance to be the GOAT took the easy way out.
I start to think maybe I should contribute another.
Jordan, Barkley and Magic all famously chided him for going to Miami too. Which is odd for two players who did their winning with the second best player in the league (Pippen/Kareem) on their teams. Especially Barkley, who lost to Jordan’s team after he demanded a trade from Philly to form the super stacked Suns teams of the mid-90’s. Lebron didn’t even demand a trade, he just left. Magic admitted that if he comn’t going to play with Kareem, the best player in the league, he was going to change his mind and not even come to the NBA and opt out of the draft. All this time Wade is getting 0 criticism when he was just as complicit in forming the ‘new look’ Heat as Lebron was, if not more since he championed the idea to sign 3 players at near max contract within the organization.
The story goes, instead of winning championships in an honest fashion Lebron has taken the easiest possible route and cut corners to attain success. Can critics be referring to changing teams? No, it’s just a common reality of the NBA. MJ/Magic’s teammates like Kareem, Rodman and Barkley himself changed teams to improve their situations. Kareem, like Chuck, demanded a trade and forced his way off the Bucks sending his championship team to the absolute mediocrity.
The only sensible argument left is “he’s a ring chaser.” Like Karl Malone going to join stacked LA. They claim an act of laziness was committed in the pantheon of hoops. In cheating the hard work of those greats he’s tarnished his legacy at the young age of 25. It’s a valid line of reasoning, but let’s examine Lebron’s choices and see if there is any truth to it.
Every team in the league could have, and would have, aquired Lebron James at nearly any costs. Your team, for the next 5 years, will make billions more in revenues. You become an automatic contender. With even decent talent you have a deep playoff run every year. It means you get the highest TV revenues for the playoffs. If you win 3 or 4 titles the profits you generate become just astronomical, and the NBA is famously a business.
He had all the cards in his hand. It was his choice with 29 suitors. Considering that they are building a team from scratch in Miami and still have a plethora of unanswered questions, lets count off the teams Lebron could have gone to that would have been an easier path to the title. To rephrase, the list of teams Lebron chose not to go to that would have been easier to win on then the Heat. All these teams with Lebron have to instantly be considered huge contenders if not title/finals locks which the Heat are not. The only question: was it possible? Here’s the list in random order:
1. Boston Celtics
They are already good. Great even. This is probably their last season of contention, maybe second last? They’re just getting old. But with Lebron they become an instant lock for the finals. They’re loaded with options to make it happen.
The first one, stiff KG and trade him. Then Cleveland has to throw in another player actually.
The second, trade Ray Allen’s expiring contract and throw in someone like Big Baby to make it happen. There’s no way the Cavs say no and Boston was shopping Ray Ray this summer anyway. Or you can throw in Nate Robinson. Pierce’s no trade clause prevents him from being involved.
Could easily get him by trading Bynum who is essentially perfect for the scenario. He’s a flier who could bring a huge season to the new team if he’s healthy and become a star. If not, the next year his deal is expiring which gives you all kinds of leverage for rebuilding. If he’s healthy, that lets you make a deal at the deadline to a team trying to add that one extra piece and get back lots of quality picks/contracts in return.
Or, package Vujacic’s expiring deal of almost 6 million with Walton and change to make it happen and keep Bynum. The other team gets quality guys with short term deals and good rebuilding chips. LA gets a starting 5 of Lebron, Kobe, Gasol, Artest, Bynum/Odom as Lebron tries to emulate Magic and ravage the league for wins/rings during and after Kobe’s career slow down.
Vince Carter is past his prime but still sells tickets. On a crap team, no doubt. In a situation like Cleveland’s his scoring would jump back up as well. He has 2 years left on his deal so he’s your’s for one season and then becomes a ‘very’ attractive 17 million expiring deal the next season for whatever team needs to dump salary.
If you need to sweeten the pot to make the cavs want this, you just throw in Marcin Gortat who’s awesome and the cavs will take back any other shitty contracts you want. They’ve also got a 5 million expiring Pietrus contract and a 2 year 4 million dollar contract for Brandon Bass that could be combined with Jameer Nelson’s 2 year deal that the cavs would NEVER say no to.
4. LA Clippers
Lebron could have just signed with The Clippers: they had space. A deal with Baron Davis or Chris Kaman and whoever is a done deal and he’s in LAC with him and Blake throwing Ally Oops to each other like they needed them to breath.
5. Portland Trailblazers
They have so many assets it would have been automatic. They could package Oden with Prisbilla in a deal the Cavs can not refuse. They can package Camby or Alderidge (thoguh I do not like his contract) in a deal they take. Or they straight up trade Brandon Roy cuz it’s obvious that it’s a massive upgrade. But they don’t need to do that at all.
6. Chicago Bulls
They didn’t even need to swing a trade since they had the cap room to take him on. This team was set up perfectly for him too. He just had to show up. The Bulls roster was so suited to Lebron that it almost looked like it had been constructed with him in mind. Lightening quick point guard who could create shots. Hard working defensive center who is 100% team oriented. Then a host of role guys who would feed off him like Taj Gibson. Pretty much the #1 spot for him to win titles right away. They’re ready and even adding Boozer (whom I hate) instead of Bron, they are a much more complete team then Miami. They are easily the third best team in the east and possibly the second depending on how the Magic do.
7. Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs could have combined Caron Butler’s expiring 10 million deal with Deshawn Stevenson’s expiring 4 million dollar deal to make this happen overnight. Done. Dirk playing with Lebron and Kidd would be, well, just unfair. That means you could put Dirk on the floor with two of the best passers of their generation.
8. San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan playing with Lebron James, even at his age, is going to result in an amazing, stellar, elite team untouchable by anyone in the league. Duncan can teach Lebron how to do the heavy lifting like Robinson did for him. It would be ridiculous how Lebron would respond to Greg Poppavich, the guy who channeled Stephen Jackson into a Laker killing playoff assassin. To make it happen they just need to trade Tony Parker’s expiring 13.5 million dollar contract. They like Parker, but not as much as they’d like Lebron James. Done deal.
9. The Sonics
Oh, the Sonics. They are literally the ‘only’ team in this scenario with a player that the team won’t trade for Lebron. Sorry Kobe, but if it was between you and another 5-10 years of dominance with the best player in the game, you’re gone… not that LA would have had to do that if Lebron wanted to come, and not that they could have since Kobe indeed has a no trade clause. But they would.
With Nick Collison’s expiring 7 million deal you’re half way there without losing much. Morris Peterson’s expiring 6 million dollar deal. What’s that? You’re within draft picks of Lebron James and you’ve only given up a guy who’s best basketball was played in Kansas and the guy who Kobe Bryant scored 81 on. Both with awesome expiring deals worth more then their legit NBA pro games. Done like dinner.
Without mentioning Nenad Kristic’s identical expiring 5 million deal or Daequan Cook’s expiring 2 million dollar deal, or the absolute war chest of picks that Presti has collected that make any deal in the NBA totally possible. They’re also 6.5 million under the cap.
10. Cleveland Cavaliers
What? Yes. The Cavs. They may not have been the easy route to a title but they were perhaps even the easiest team he could have picked. Lebron knew there would be a backlash if he left. He knew he’d be giving up a base of fans who adored him and trading that in for hate and resentment. He knew that leaving was giving up so much of what he had attained in life never having lived outside Ohio.
Change is inherently difficult. Ask the multitudes of people who feel hopelessly stuck in unhappy marriages and they’re still there because changing their situation is too much for them to bear.
|This Is Not An Easy Path|
In some regards, staying in Cleveland was the easiest path of all. If he stays people trumpet ‘The Decision’ as a wonderful charity fund raiser from a player who has not forgotten his roots. Instead of a heel he’s ‘giving back to his community’. It becomes the happiest day in Cleveland sports history which is probably how Lebron envisioned the special in the first place when the TV deal was made (during the all star break). Choosing a path in which millions of people hate you is obviously harder then one in which those same millions love you.
9 teams. Count them. 9. And a tenth that was inherently easier without winning rings. A third of the league. Not just teams that would have been good with Lebron, these are teams that would have pretty easily become the best team in the league with him. And 10 teams that are very easily an easier choice/path.
Especially that Sonics team. With the growth of Durant slowly taking over as Lebron gets older. They could legitimately win 4-8 titles, or if that’s pushing it, the lowest possible result barring injury etc. is best team in the league for 5-10 years straight.
Maybe Portland really doesn’t have the goods to be the obvious best team in the league with Lebron, but they are instant contenders in the least as much or more then the Heat are this year. The other teams, they are instantly NBA alpha dogs. Miami looks good but have lots of work left to complete. A title is not guaranteed. They are obviously not the best team in the league yet. Spending that much on 3 guys is for sure an experiment and they hardly have the depth or size to be considered the best team. Till they figure it out, The Celtics, Lakers, Magic, Mavs, Spurs are still above them. The Sonics and Bulls are better as well. Maybe that will change by the end of the season but only if Miami makes some smart deals to fix the mistakes they made on players 5-12.
|Just Wanted To Get These Hawks Girls In.|
What is certain is the very best teams had easy options to acquire Lebron should he wanted to play there and all 9 choices resulted in a stronger team then the Heat and best team in the NBA status. Miami was ‘not’ one of these teams. New York with Amare, Utah with Deron Williams or Phoenix with Nash would be better teams then the Heat too. Or really the Hawks too. Which makes Miami at the 10’th or more easiest path Lebron could have taken to win. Which means it was some other motivation that pulled him to Miami then title chasing or corner cutting.
If this is the case, and I contend it is, MJ, Barkley and Magic (Simmons too) should all be ashamed for kicking a dog when he’s down. Lebron has not had the best summer. He’s become an easy target and even if the criticism is deserved they’re just making up negativity that does not exist. When you take the 10’th or more most difficult route out of 29 it’s factually not the easiest path.better a