LeBron James Needs Help: Cleveland Cavaliers Must Find Partner for Superstar
If you read through a copy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer this summer, you might run across a want ad that reads like this: "SBM seeks hard-working fellow NBA All-Star to help win NBA Championship. Must be able to score in transition, hit clutch shots, and enjoy Nike and Sprite products."
If there was any question as to whether or not LeBron James needed another All-Star player on his side, that question was answered on Sunday afternoon in Sunday's Game Seven loss to the Boston Celtics.
James, who had his best game of the playoffs against the Celtics on Sunday, did all he could do. But as both teams came down the stretch, it was clear that Boston had too much fire power. There was no doubt Boston had more talent, but Cleveland had a great opportunity to steal Game Seven.
This sentiment is nothing new. It has been echoed throughout the Cleveland fan base, NBA analysts, and even from LeBron himself. Since last season's sweep in the NBA Finals, the Cavs front office has been unable to make a move.
Throughout that series against San Antonio and the most recent one against Boston, it was made clear that LeBron can not get the job done by himself.
James had an unbelievable performance against the Detroit Pistons in last year's Eastern Conference Finals. But LeBron exhausted himself carrying his team. The Spurs defense was too good, and no one else could step up to take on the load.
The move made at the trading deadline was good. It gave the Cavaliers a formidable bench. Joe Smith, Delonte West, and Ben Wallace are all nice players.
However, they are not All-Stars. The team couldn't pull off a deal for the highly coveted Mike Bibby, who ended up in Atlanta. They couldn't swing a trade for Jason Kidd, who returned to Dallas, either. Once again, the team failed to bring in a big-time player who could relieve some of the burden on James's shoulders.
Sunday, James scored almost half of Cleveland's points against the Celtics. LeBron scored 45 points, while the rest of the team scored 47. The next highest scorer was Delonte West with 15. The third highest scorer was Zydrunas Ilgauskas with eight.
The pundits may say that Pierce had 41 and their next highest scorer was Garnett with 13, but this isn't the norm in the Celtics game. How many times have the Cavs come painstakingly close to a big win, only to not have enough support to help James at crunch time?
Earlier in this series, I wrote an article about the supporting cast coming to James's rescue, and what I think we witnessed was real. But the problem is consistency.
This supporting cast has never been able to do it on a nightly basis. Would today's result be different if we had another threat besides LeBron? That is up for debate, but I can tell you the chances would have been much better.
With the free agent market that will be present this offseason, there is no excuse for not getting a formidable wingman for LeBron.
These are some of the names that will be either restricted or unrestricted free agents this summer: Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, Shawn Marion, Baron Davis, Allen Iverson, Jermaine O'Neal, Andre Iguodala, Gilbert Arenas, and Antawn Jamison.
Some of these guys do have early termination clauses they would have to exercise, but it is pretty clear there is going to be a wealth of talent available. Is everyone a perfect fit for Cleveland? Probably not. But I think it is possible to bring someone in to relieve the pressure on LeBron.
Look at the great teams that have won championships in the past fifteen years. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Shaq and Kobe would have never won in L.A. without each other. Shaq wouldn't have won one in Miami without the help of Dwayne Wade.
Magic wouldn't have won one without Worthy, Byron Scott, and Vlade Divac. Hakeem had Clyde Drexler, Sam Cassell, and Robert Horry. Tim Duncan has Manu Ginobli and Tony Parker. Look at any team who has won a title, and you will find that most of the time, the superstar had another star to help carry them.
Until Cleveland's front office is able to bring in another star to help LeBron, Sunday's Game Seven is going to be a familiar site. The Cavaliers will continue to be the bridesmaid instead of the bride.
My advice is that they better find a partner fast, or when his contract is up in 2011, LeBron James might just go find a team who will.
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