LeBron James: The League's Worst GM
LeBron James could very well be the greatest player of the last decade.
James, a two-time MVP, has been in the process of rejuvenating a city since being taken with the first pick of the 2003 draft. Back then LeBron was just a basketball player.
And his popularity couldn't have been better. People dubbed him "The King," and the city of Cleveland took to the superstar as the future of their organization.
Now, finally, the honeymoon phase is over.
LeBron is no longer a young kid ready to infuse even more interest in the sport of basketball, but now making executive decisions in search for his first and long-awaited NBA title.
And I don't disagree with these motives.
The Cavs do not have an exceptional coaching staff nor great scouting and management, reasons why James has gained far greater control and power in Cleveland than any of his superstar counterparts around the league.
While at first James seemed competent in demanding more extreme measures to be taken to improve the Cavs, such ailments in team chemistry and organization are now becoming more and more visible after Cleveland's most recent loss to the Celtics.
I won't divulge into what could have potentially been the King's last game in Cleveland, nor call out James for being a bad teammate or leaving the organization out to dry. But I will call him out for trying to do too much over the last several seasons.
In fact, when I think of the perfect teammate, I find it hard to pick anyone better than LeBron. The guy plays defense, scores, and gets more assists than some of the league's top point guards. And for years he's been Mike Brown's obvious leader on the floor.
Yet that's the main problem, LeBron has consistently done too much in Cleveland, partially because of his own narcissism and partially because of an extraordinary desire to win and officially be crowned as an NBA Champion.
And the forward has stopped at nothing to exert this new-found power within the organization.
When he wanted a center, they brought in Shaq.
When he wanted a wingman, they brought in Jamison.
When he wants to switch his team's airline from Southwest to Delta, they'll buy him his fourth jet.
The point is, LeBron has successfully dictated his team's roster because of his athletic prowess, and these decisions have given him more power than most team's general managers and coaches.
Mike Brown hasn't been able to exert power in his team the way most coaches are able to in the NBA. Whether this lack of respect is his own for not taking advantage of the Cavs significant roster changes over the course of the season, or LeBron's fault for trying to become more powerful and controlling than even his own coach, something only a dominant player could achieve.
No matter who is actually at fault, LeBron is arguably the GM of the Cavs, a problem that could really hamper his career.
Some of the greatest players in recent memory: Jordan, Duncan, Shaq, Nash, Wade, and Kobe all have some form of respect for the hierarchy of the league's coaching staffs and their own team leaders, and would never publicly emphasize they would prefer a guy like John Calipari over their current leader, something James made the mistake of doing earlier today.
Look, Kevin Garnett can make Big Baby bawl, but he does so in a way that is respectful to both his teammates and coach Doc Rivers. Even with several contributing stars, the Celtics continue to win the right way, a way that almost identically contrasts the style of Jame's squad in Cleveland.
LeBron is proving to us why a team can't pay through the nose to work itself solely around one superstar, team chemistry James thinks is empowering and vital to his championship run. Look at the last several champion contenders. All these teams, the Spurs, Lakers, Nuggets, Jazz, Celtics, and Magic are strongly built in every position and their coaching, and while they may have one or two overpaid stars, they have rosters that allow general managers to build around their team's standing infrastructure instead of one designated player.
James will continue having a hard time winning championships when he's the GM. There are paid professionals supposed to take care of such activities, and while LeBron knows this, he still thinks he should interject himself into nearly every team issue. While this does show leadership and responsibility on his part, I think a more appropriate connotation of James's behavior deals with his own inferiority as a team player and a leader, a problem that will stand in his way of winning a championship in the near future.
For LeBron James to ever get the championship he's always been seeking, he needs to not only accept less of a paycheck, but less of a role. Jordan was the greatest player in basketball history, but Phil Jackson always kept him in check, and reiterated that the superstar could never do it alone, a reason Jordan's points per game and assists per game went up later in his career; the superstar accepted a lessened role.
At the moment, LeBron is looking to build his own roster, hell, if it was up to him, the NBA would expand to 31 teams to give James a new start in an environment that completely suits him.
I'm not up here suggesting that James needs to work on his game to reach the pinnacle of basketball achievement, I'm arguing that LeBron needs to accept that while taking a smaller role in whatever team he ends up on may be difficult, it will produce him championships.
LeBron is not a GM, and the team that makes the mistake of adhering to James's will above the will of their organization's management will be in the same situation the Cavs have been in for several years, a situation that is not as pleasant as it seems.
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