Cross-Examining Every NBA Superstar Under Oath
We're calling all the NBA superstars to the stand.
LeBron James made it known he had to report for jury duty, and he did a tremendous job as a civic servant although he was not selected as a juror. But before he leaves court, we thought it might be time to turn the questions around on the superstar.
While we’re at it, it’s a good time to ask each member of our NBA royalty that one pressing question that everyone's dying to know—even if they'd never truthfully answer it.
We may not get answers, due to their virtual absence of course, but we'll bring the third degree nonetheless.
LeBron, do you eventually want to prove you can win on your own?
Deep down, it bothers you doesn’t it? That you’re considered the best basketball player in the game, but not everyone loves you. That you have championship trophies, yet an asterisk exists in the minds of many fans because you joined fellow superstars to do it.
They cry: “Jordan built it on his own.” I know you hear them. They call you a coward for not doing it alone in Cleveland.
It’s really the only knock anyone can have against you anymore. You’re the perfect player in every other capacity.
But who are they to question you, the king? It was you who carried Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh through the postseason. The Heat weren’t really that much more talented than those rosters playing alongside Jordan or Kobe Bryant.
Even if you go back to Cleveland and win a title, they’ll only credit the help of Kyrie Irving. He’s their new hero.
You know it in your heart, though, you can do it on your own. Will you try to prove it one day?
Carmelo, do you worry that history will forget you as an NBA star if you don’t win a title?
You are one of the most elite scorers the league has ever seen. You won your first scoring title this season averaging 28.8 points per game in the league’s biggest market of New York.
Eleven seasons and 713 games into your career, you have averaged 25 points per game. Only 12 players in NBA history have averaged that many per game.
But let’s be real: People don’t give you ultimate respect yet because you’ve never played past the conference finals. You seem to get more leniency in regards to not having a ring than LeBron ever did in Cleveland. But maybe that only means people don’t see you in the same light?
If you were to retire without a title, you may go down in history as nothing more than Dominique Wilkins without the dunks or Allen Iverson without the handles.
Alright, Kobe. You’re not the easiest person to ask the tough question.
But here it goes: Are you willing to leave the Los Angeles Lakers in search of title No. 6 if the front office can't put together a contending roster next offseason?
There’s no doubt you want Michael Jordan’s six titles. You only need one more. You can't pass that up. What means more to you: staying in a Lakers uniform your entire career or matching His Airness? No one stays in just one uniform any more—not even your idol, Jordan himself.
You’ve already threatened to leave multiple times in past years, and the team is absolutely in shambles for at least next season.
With wide-open salary space in the summer of 2014, Los Angeles can certainly re-establish itself as an elite contender, if top-tier free agents choose to join you. However, if that’s not a possibility, would you still stick around?
Maybe, somehow, there’s an opportunity to play in New York alongside Carmelo Anthony or in Chicago with Derrick Rose...would that entice you away from California?
OK, Derrick. Tell us, what was really up with last season? Why didn’t you just come forward and say you weren’t going to return?
No one is blaming you for your decision to not play while recovering from an ACL injury that kept you out all season. It’s your body parts to gamble with, not ours.
But when you were cleared to play last March and began setting milestones for your return, only to remain in the suit throughout the postseason, that really irritated some folks.
You could have just said: “Hey look, I’m still not 100 percent. I’m probably not going to come back.”
Instead, the only games you played were with the minds of Bulls fans. As the team surpassed expectations through the regular season and playoffs, you kept everyone in suspense. Other teammates played injured, and played sick, so there must have been an element of guilt that existed.
Again, no one is questioning why you didn’t play, but rather why you didn’t just open up more clearly about why you were not playing.
KD, are you worried you’ll never be enough to unseat LeBron James?
You already said you don’t like being second best, Kevin. But what if it never changes?
Title windows evaporate ever so quickly in this league and there’s no guarantee that you can lead the Thunder back to the finals. Look how quickly things turned last year with a freak season-ending injury to Russell Westbrook.
If that thought wakes you up in the middle of the night, and we have video evidence that says it does, then you’re probably having another offseason of nightmares.
Your fear is justified. LeBron isn’t going anywhere, and talented superteams in major markets are only becoming a more common trend. The small markets don’t have it easy, and Oklahoma City’s years of success could eventually vanish.
Don’t get me wrong, though; I’m on your side. Everyone’s rooting for you. You’re the nice guy. And you are still the league’s best scorer—even if Carmelo Anthony unseated you last season as scoring champ.
Still, it has to be tough. How will your career be remembered if you never overcome James?
Dwyane, don’t take this the wrong way, but are you happy with your decision to default your career to LeBron?
There’s no way you would have added two more rings without the help of the league’s top talent. You showed incredible humility by defining yourself as the clear No. 2 in a city that you once owned.
You went from a career high of 22 shots per game to 15.8 shots per game last season. Granted, your shooting percentage of 52.1 percent last season had never been higher.
Outwardly, the decision to win another title (or two, three…six) seems like a no-brainer and stepping to the side appears honorable. And don't get me wrong: life seems good.
But are you truly happy with being second on your team?
All the greats have an ego and few are willing to step into a deputy role for the sake of team success. There’s no way Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan does that. You did it in your 20s.
Chris, do you wish the NBA hadn’t blocked your trade to the Los Angeles Lakers?
We understand if that’s the case.
Sure, you took over Los Angeles with a Lob-City run last season, but you still play in the purple shadow. That only changes if you win a championship, and even then it’s probably more about the Lakers not winning it.
You are a superstar, and you are undoubtedly the leader of a Clippers team that was far more successful than the Lakers last season. This offseason, you got everything you needed in new coach Doc Rivers and added some good support in Jared Dudley and J.J. Redick.
Still, the opportunity to have played alongside Kobe Bryant and take the torch as the next Lakers superstar is a much more provocative storyline.
Maybe the inevitable head-butting that would have occurred between you and Bryant, two alphas, would have been too much. Or maybe you want that, never having played alongside an elite superstar or driving deep into the playoffs?
Dwight, please wipe that smile off your face. This is serious.
Do you really care about basketball and winning?
Nobody doubts that you are a good person; you are a funny, respectful guy loaded with positivity. You have all the physical attributes of your attached superman moniker.
But something is missing and it has become clear to the basketball world: You don’t seem to care.
In games, your intensity seems to lack. Bryant attacked you, but you never clearly stated your case publicly to defend yourself. Why are you so passive when so much is on the line?
There is arrogance in superstardom, but yours doesn't exist in the right realm. There is a level of mental toughness and distaste for losing among the elite. But as you exited for Orlando and moved on to a losing scene in Los Angeles, you never seemed to change when your reputation was being dragged through the mud.
There’s little wrong with Dwight the man. There’s a lot wrong with Dwight the basketball superstar.
You played hurt last year, and statistically you were still a value. But is that what you want of your career, to be “pretty good”? Or do you want to be the best?
What questions would you ask these superstars? Post your comments below or Tweet:
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!