LeBron James: Future NBA Mercenary for Hire
It doesn't look like that, ''Not one, not two, not three, not four..." championships is going to happen for LeBron James, at least not with the Miami Heat. The Big Three superstar teaming of James, Bosh and Wade has proved to be a failed experiment.
Two or possibly, three NBA Finals appearances yielding just one championship was definitely not the expectation, it was the ugly exception. Even if James is able to put the Heat on his back and win one more game to get through the Indiana Pacers, the top-heavy Miami team has been exposed.
The San Antonio Spurs are resting up to possibly expose the Heat even more. If an offensively limited center like Roy Hibbert is dominating Miami's suspect frontline, just what is the rejuvenated Tim Duncan and the much improved Tiago Splitter going to do to them?
Even against the likes of All-Stars Pau Gasol, Dwight Howard, Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, the ageless Duncan is averaging 17.8 points and 9.2 rebounds per game this postseason.
Miami, if they make the Finals, would then counter the Duncan and Splitter duo with Chris Andersen, Chris Bosh and Joel Anthony? Is this a joke? LeBron could not be amused. A second championship ring will not be coming this year for the James-led Heat, and it may never come at all.
Just like in Cleveland, LeBron simply needs more help. And just like during his time with the Cavs, James is carrying this weak Miami team by himself, averaging 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 6.6 assists per game this postseason.
A gimpy knee has reduced Dwyane Wade to a shell of his former self, while Bosh, who is averaging a modest 13 points and 6.6 rebounds this postseason, has not been much of a difference-maker.
So what happens next for James and the Heat after this year's playoff run? Can Miami's president of basketball operations, Pat Riley, take a flier out on former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden and hope for the best? Can he trade Bosh for someone better? Maybe Wade can get the blood in his knee spun and everything will be all better, it worked for Kobe Bryant, right?
Or does LeBron look at his surroundings and jump off the sinking ship?
James did leave himself with somewhat of an out if things failed in Miami. He really only signed on for four years with the option of leaving in the fifth year. After next season, his option kicks in, leaving all of us to watch LeBron's Next Decision.
Hopefully, this decision takes place somewhere more interesting than a Boys & Girls Club. My idea would be in a plane. He would make his decision to whatever team and then skydive down to that city as gracious fans await his arrival, but that's just me.
The best story would be a return to Cleveland, which just might be the premier destination to take his talents this time around. By then, the Cavs would have a promising young core of Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, Tristan Thompson and whatever they do with this year's top overall draft pick.
Other teams whose current cap space suggest they could make a play for James would be the New York Knicks, Los Angeles Lakers, Detroit Pistons, Dallas Mavericks, New Orleans Pelicans and the Washington Wizards.
If you take away the un-sexiness of Detroit, especially when compared to South Beach, the Pistons could be a very intriguing match for James. There, he would be teaming up with Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond.
How about if the King wants to get political in Washington with the Wizards and join forces to make a Big Three of himself, John Wall and Bradley Beal?
LeBron and Anthony ''Unibrow'' Davis could also be quite the pairing in New Orleans. Although he would have to be a Pelican.
If James is all about championships, he must become a basketball mercenary, more of a hired gun. Gone are the days of when a player played on just one team their whole career. LeBron simply does not have the time to wait. This is already his tenth year in the league.
In a perfect situation, James career would have taken a different trajectory: He would have been drafted by a free-agent destination like New York, Chicago or Los Angeles. Or he would have gone to a team with another star—similar to how Michael Jordan eventually wound up with Scottie Pippen or how Bryant joined Shaquille O'Neal. Or it could have even worked out in Miami if Wade would have stayed healthy and Bosh would have stepped up for James when he also took his talents to South Beach.
For whatever reason, the basketball gods blessed LeBron with the perfect basketball body and mind but left him without the perfect path to a championship. So, he will just have to take the path of a basketball mercenary.
James must sign short contracts with the team that is the best good fit for him. When he signs to a decent team, he will make them great and whichever city happy until he leaves. Then will come the subsequent jersey burning.
And while basketball writers and fans may frown upon LeBron's decisions of switching teams, hopefully it will all be worth it for him—provided he's able to come up with a big enough ring collection.
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