Wednesday, July 7, 2010
So, we are 24 hours away from the biggest free agent signing in the history of the NBA! Actually, in the history of sports, and I feel as if the only thing I have become a witness to is a CIRCUS!
It is no secret that I am NOT LeBron James' biggest fan. I don't dislike him per se, I just don't care for what he represents, and I particularly don't like his team. His high school/neighborhood friends who have placed their entire livelihoods on his shoulders, all in the name of having his back. However, their laissez-faire way of managing basketball's biggest talent has become detrimental to his future as a legend in this game. Whether it is his refusal to shake the hand of his opponent after suffering a conference finals loss, or dodging the media while he pouts about it, there have definitely been some snafus in the professionalism of LeBron James.
Professionalism aside, he is an explosive and freakishly athletic talent. However, to be a legend or to be the best, you have to be professional and likable! One thing for certain, some of James' antics have landed him as the subject of the most scathing articles in sports.
Tomorrow, James and his team promise to reveal where he will play next season, and most likely the next six seasons. Will he stay in Cleveland, move to Chicago, NY, Miami, or New Jersey? These are the million dollar questions that ESPN has asked verbatim for the last month. Quite frankly, I will be glad when he does say where he's going so we can all move on. After all, our country is still at war, we have the largest oil spill in history and unemployment is still stifling the economy. I am beginning to feel like a schmuck for constantly turning to ESPN, checking the Internet and my sports alerts for news. Here is my breakdown of his possible choices.
Cleveland: If LeBron stays in Cleveland, he pretty much will be in the same position he was in last season, except for the fact that instead of Mike "Mr. Potato Head" Brown, the new coach is Byron Scott. This is an obvious upgrade, which will help, but the biggest issue LeBron had was a lackluster supporting cast. Ilgauskas had pinches of good games, but his basketball I.Q. is low, and at times he was downright goofy. Mo Williams had spurts of shooting greatness, but he also had long stretches of shooting droughts, and unfortunately it was usually when his team needed him. Shaq is done. Delonte West could be considered arguably better than Williams, but due to his romp with Momma James, it's safe to say if LeBron stays, he's outta there. This team would make the playoffs, maybe after a few tries even, the Finals, but no ring here!
New York: Considered to be the holy grail of professional sports, the big apple is known for buying their way into professional titles. However, this feat has failed time and time again for the Knicks. In fact, they have become synonymous with overpaying the wrong players (i.e., Allan Houston, Stephon Marbury). They have not disappointed this year. They signed Amar'e Stoudamire to a 5 year/$100M deal! I am just going to let that lie for a moment. Yes you read that right, $100 Million dollars to Amar'e Stoudamire! You would think they would've learned their lesson by now, clearly they haven't. While AS is athletic, a consistent scorer and is known to have breakout games. He is also a bad defender, sometimes selfish with the ball, and a cancer to some locker rooms. It is no secret that there are former teammates in the league that literally loathe him. With that said, it will be very interesting to see how AS will play with another star, especially someone bigger than Nash. It will also be interesting to see him play in a defense-oriented conference and on a team with no real point guard. If LeBron lands in New York, he and Stoudamire will be the team. That is NOT enough. Under the scrutiny of New York media, this situation can quickly become impossible.
Miami: So we now know that D. Wade lured Chris Bosh to join him in South Beach. On paper, this looks great. Two bonafide stars playing together in the land of the beautiful, however, like NY, the Heat lack a sufficient supporting cast. Mario Chalmers - pass. Quentin Richardson - pass. DaSean Butler - not nearly developed yet. Jermaine O'Neal - he's done. Michael Beasley - a wild card with emotional problems. This organization has the most work to do to their roster to put themselves in contention. That was painfully obvious when they were ousted by Cleveland in the semifinals last season. If Wade thought he was frustrated before...but that's right, if LeBron joins them - there will be a little confusion. Sometimes you can have too many stars. This isn't the Olympics, this is an 82-game season. Wade and James' games are very similar and Coach Spoelstra isn't experienced enough to balance all of those egos. Doesn't matter because Riley is coming for his job now anyway. Not sure about rings here. Maybe, but definitely NOT a dynasty.
Chicago: This is the most likely pairing. Has been from the start, much to my chagrin. Due to my issues with LeBron's professional development, I didn't want him to come to the Bulls. However, looking at where he is likely to have the quickest success to a championship, it's definitely the Bulls. Rose, Noah, Deng, now Boozer and James is definitely a championship caliber team. But, there are some ifs that all hinge on chemistry. While Rose and Noah are young players, they are very mature, focused and passionate about the game. They check their egos at the door and do whatever it takes as a team to win. LeBron hasn't grasped this yet, and I fear his penchant for things always being about him and surrounding him would throw off the chemistry of the team. Tom Thibedeau is also a no-nonsense defensive minded coach who will not allow LeBron to play three positions every time he walks the ball down the court. This would force Bron to make adjustments to his game, which I know he doesn't like to make. Finally, the Bulls organization is about business. Contrary to the DelNegro/Paxson scuffle last season, they are a take-care-of-business organization. Old players are dispersed throughout as assistants, scouts, commentators, etc. So Bron's team would NOT have free-reign, nor would they be calling the shots. Titles could come to Bron here, but he would have to be open to change.
New Jersey: Honestly, and I know Jay-Z is a 1% owner and the team is moving to Brooklyn, but right now, they are in New Jersey. That would be like LeBron coming here to play for a Joliet team. Out of all the teams, New Jersey has the least chance of landing him for obvious reasons. Even in Brooklyn, it will give them an expansion team feel and missing will be the rich histories of a New York, Chicago or Los Angeles franchise. Even with the Russian owners billions, it is too much of a volatile situation for Bron Bron. No rings here.
In all, LeBron is making a "Decision" at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time tomorrow night. He is getting a whole hour on ESPN to seal his fate for the next six years. The choice he makes will decide whether he wants to win championships or is he after more fame and money and more expansion of his brand. I can already see the direction his team is going, but only tomorrow will tell whether my hunch is right. Stay tuned!