One of the many story lines going into this year's NBA Finals is simply LeBron James. From the day he made his "decision" on live television and decided to take his talents to South Beach, he has been a target. A target for the media, for fans, and for fellow and former players.
Whether you love LeBron or hate him, chances are you have an opinion on the guy.
When he had his coming out party in Miami where he said he was eyeing more than eight championships in a Heat uniform, he was laying the groundwork for united dislike.
I can't help but think that James winning an NBA title might be a bad thing for not only the NBA, but basketball in general. Here's a guy who has all the talent in the world. Arguably the single most talented player to ever don an NBA jersey. Ultimately, he decided he could not win as the sole leader of a team.
If James wins, it might be sending the wrong message to young basketball players and other NBA players alike. That selfishness will be rewarded. That slapping your home town in the face on your way out to join an all-star team in paradise is an okay thing to do.
It's not. Michael never would have done that. Neither would Magic. Neither would Larry. Even Karl Malone didn't bail until it was almost over.
Forget that there is a negative and selfish message being sent to the basketball youth. Forget that James left Cleveland with all the class of a drunken sailor.
If James wins a title, with this team, this group of guys, we are going to see more and more of these "super teams" develop. Players have more leverage than ever when they are not happy in a situation. Instead of sticking it out with the franchise that drafted you, paid you, and loved you, players will be more likely than ever to force their way onto another team.
Free agents will try to join up and make another all star team in another city because that formula clearly would have worked.
I, for one, don't want to see that happen. I want the LeBron James of the future to stay in Cleveland, or wherever they are drafted. I want to see them develop talent around them and win on their own.
I'm not saying that if James wins the title will be tarnished, but it certainly won't be quite as shiny. Maybe I am just old school and the days when one player takes his team to the promised land are over. Maybe this is the new landscape of NBA basketball.
I hope some of the younger players will take a lesson from some of the great ones that came before them. Stay put. Build your legend. Win championships.
It can be done the right way.