It’s July. The devastating basketball season has ended. The draft is over. The major players in Free Agency have been signed by the Miami Heat, and NBA fans are left to speculate and dream up scenarios about how their team can possibly pull off a trade or sign a mid-level-exception veteran that could somehow vault their team past the Lakers or the Heat (I know, I know… The C’s are the defending Eastern Conference Champs – but so were the Cavs when the C’s Big 3 was assembled). My colleagues here at Celtics247.com have been and will continue to be on top of bringing you all the news and rumors related to Celtics player transactions. So, with that all taken care of, and no games to talk about, I figured I’d dig into some deeper basketball-related issues that have been on my mind of late. Actually who am I trying to fool? It is all LeBron-related. The more I think about these things, the more questions I have than answers, so I figured I’d share and get your opinion.
How y’all feel about “Super-teams”? With LeBron’s Decision leading to a “super-team” in Miami, Chris Paul remarking at Carmelo Anthony’s wedding that he and Melo should join up with Amare in NY next year to create their own super-team (and Paul’s subsequent trade request), many of us old-school NBA fans have been left scratching our heads, yearning for the days when teams with one superstar and a cast of role players could contend for a title (granted our memories are delusional as the Celtics and Lakers of the 80’s and Bulls of the 90’s were basically super-teams themselves). Are these super-teams good for the league? Sure they were good for us Cletics fans over the last few years. As Rony Seikaly (aka DJ “Rony Style” – yes, you read that correctly) says, “It’s good for me as a Heat fan, but maybe not for the rest of the League.” On one side, we will see some extraordinary basketball being played by the Heat and maybe (say it ain’t so), the Magic if they get Chris Paul. However, with NBA popularity, or at least profitability, weaning, the majority of teams will have absolutely no shot at the NBA title, and their fans will know it.
Along those lines, my head has been left spinning since “The Decision”:
I am almost always on the side of players asserting their free will, making as much money as they can, and generally getting the upper hand in any labor situation. I feel like we, as fans, have been conditioned to side with owners and management in labor matters (i.e. Free Agency). Let’s face it, the owners and the league are the ones signing the big television contracts, creating the media narrative, and we as fans are left thinking that the players owe something to the teams and cities that they play for. Like, they should just shut up and play. Also, we stand by and say nothing when owners create media spectacles aimed at building brand and profits (see all things Red Sox Nation). We as fans shouldn’t mind, then, when players pull the same stunts. That said, LeBron’s “Decision” was a train-wreck. ESPN is most to blame, not for creating a program that generated ridiculous ratings. That is their job. It is for pretending to be a journalistic institution. As if Jim Gray and everyone else involved in producing that show didn’t already know LeBron’s decision (Oh by the way – mostly unrelated, but as I type this, ESPN is cutting into live A-Rod at-bats as he has 599 home runs and is approaching 600. But nobody is mentioning he is an admitted steroid user!! 600 don’t mean sh^t! Ten more and he ties Sammy Sosa! What a joke. Look, A-Rod’s one of the best of our generation, but let’s not pretend those record numbers mean anything).
LeBron, however, didn’t do anything to capture the hearts and minds of fans with his performance either. He sounded so ridiculous in saying, “I’m taking my talents to South Beach”, instead of… oh… I don’t freaking know… “I’ve decided to play for the Miami Heat” would have worked fine. And the decision itself was certainly questionable. I’m inclined to think he’s going to win a bunch of titles but he’ll always be linked with D-Wade, who will always have one more title than him. He’ll be, as Dave Zirin suggests, Robin to Wade’s Batman or whatever. As everyone heard, the Great Michael Jordan questioned his competitiveness. Should we fault Lebron for not fitting into that alpha-dog mold that we have come to expect from superstars? Or perhaps commend him for caring about winning titles than becoming a legend. Maybe he’s just a Renaissance Man.
Not sure the answers? Just consult the bible like my buddy Chris O’Rourke: “For where there is envy and selfish ambition, there will also be disorder and wickedness of every kind.” James 3:16. What relevance does James 3:16 have to our basketball discussions, you ask? Well: Wade- 3, Bosh – 1, LeBron – 6. All we can do is pray.