LeBron James Is No Larry, Michael, or Magic
LeBron James is currently the most talented basketball player on the planet. Perhaps even one of the most physically gifted human beings to ever grace the face of the earth.
But don't let that god-given ability fool you into thinking James is the best basketball player in the NBA, much less the world.
Saying his name in the same sentence as Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, or Larry Bird is an insult to some of the fiercest competitors the game has ever seen.
We are all witnesses. Witnesses to the most over-hyped, over-marketed, and overrated basketball player to ever grasp this country by the balls.
I've been saying it since he drove that Hummer at St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. When everyone was annointing him "The Next", "The King" and "The Chosen One", I was holding back with the idea you have to win something before you can be anything.
For not stepping a foot in a college classroom, James is a damn fine businessman.
He has taken his high school and AAU coaches advice to heart when they told him to "use basketball as a vehicle to take you where you want to go."
In fact, he is so good, he is a businessman first and a basketball player second. James' off-court endorsement deals exceed $40 million per year.
This is where James begins to mix up his priorities.
"In order for me to grow, as the leader, as the business man I wanted to be, I had to make a change," he said.
Jordan was a basketball player first and a businessman second. The same can be said for Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning, and Tiger Woods at their respective sports as well.
All of the mentioned players have also been at the pinnacle of their sport as well, James has not.
In the 60 Minutes interview he was asked one of his ultimate goals in life. James answered "to be one of the richest people in the world."
If Jordan were asked the same question at that age, he would have answered "to be the best basketball player I can be." However now his answer might change to "for the Charlotte Bobcats to make the Playoffs."
There is no denying that the 25 year old is a once in a lifetime talent.
For his career, James averages almost 28 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists a game in the regular season.
James has already accomplished more than most guys in their mid-twenties with 2 MVPs, a 2008 Beijing Olympics Gold Medal, and a Wikipedia page dedicated to his achievements, yet he hasn't won the one thing that defines any athlete in every sport: a Championship.
Although, the regular season in the NBA today is about as soft as a Justin Bieber concert, with half the league tanking to get more ping pong balls and inflating player stats.
The NBA Playoffs are what defines greatness, and so far, LeBron has only one moment in which can be described as "Jordan-esque".
Trailing the Detroit Pistons 2-0 in the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, James led the Cavs passed the Pistons in six games, highlighted by a memorable 25 straight points in a double-overtime game five win.
Since then, the Cavaliers have improved in the regular season, posting the leagues best record in each of the last two years, but regressing in the Playoffs (losing to the Magic in the 2009 Eastern Conference Finals and Celtics in the 2010 second round).
James has hit rock bottom in his (still) promising career in the second round against the Boston Celtics this year.
Tied 2-2 with home court advantage at Quicken Loans Arena, James defaulted on a loan in game five.
In the 120-88 embarrassing home loss to the Celtics, he shot 3-14 and had only 15 points. His off-shooting night wasn't the only thing that peaked the interest of basketball gurus.
Brian Windhorst, Cavs beat-writer for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, who has seen almost every game of James' seven year career said "I have never seen LeBron play like that. To be disengaged like he was shocked me. I have known him since he was 14 and I have never seen him have that type of demeanor," he said.
"During timeouts he wold literally stare at the ceiling and staring off into the stands. It was nothing I had ever seen from him before."
Okay, one bad Playoff game.
However, LeBrick didn't redeem himself in game six either as the Cavs were eliminated 94-85 in Boston.
A quick glance at his numbers and you see a misguided triple-double with 27 points, 19 rebounds, and 10 assists. But this isn't fantasy basketball, this is the NBA Playoffs.
James struggled shooting once again, going 8 of 21, and turned the ball over nine times.
"Nine times?..." Nine times!"- Ferris Bueller's Day Off
However, it was his intensity that once again was lacking. James showed much more interest and emotion than he had in game five, but it was still no where near acceptable for someone deemed as "The King".
Michael Jordan was 23-0 (ironic) in series when his team had home-court advantage, James has now lost two such series in the last two years.
Jordan was able to inspire his teammates and get clutch performances out of guys like John Paxton, Ron Harper, and Horace Grant.
As the chosen leader, James has that same ability, but he is too laid back at this point to get his teammates to elevate their game in crunch time.
"Attitude reflects leadership, captain."- Remember the Titans
This was the prevalent theme in the Cleveland huddle game five and beyond, and James can take full responsibility for that, since he is "The King".
Following the Cavs elimination, James said "I want to win. That's my only thing, my only concern. I've always prided myself -- it's all about winning for me, and I think the Cavs are committed to doing that.
"But at the same time, I've given myself options to this point. Me and my team, we have a game plan that we'll execute and we'll see where we're at."
Where will James end up?
The uninformed citizen keeps reiterating the New York Knicks. Sorry Spike.
If the previous James quote is true and he wants to win, he will NOT run with David Lee and Wilson Chandler next year.
James has folded under pressure in Cleveland and the media will be ten fold in NYC. A few boos at Quicken Loans startled him, imagine Madison Square Garden.
Assuming James bolts Ohio for the first time in his life, I see Chicago as the most logical destination.
The Bulls have a star point guard in Derrick Rose and have enough talented supporting players like Luol Deng and Joakim Noah to intrigue James. However, if a sign and trade is worked out between the Bulls and Cavs, don't expect Deng to be in "The Windy City" next year.
I don't understand the athletes that claim to be "all about winning" and then sign with a team for the maximum salary. James is already set for life financially. Why not sign for above average money and give the franchise the flexibility to sign other players?
Especially with the talent pool in the free agent class of 2010. James could take less money and convince a Carlos Boozer, Chris Bosh, Dwayne Wade, among others to sign with a team and instantly produce a juggernaut.
Oh right, forgot, James wants to be "one of the richest in the world."
Bird would come into a room and ask "Who's coming in 2nd?"
James has that same fire, in the business world, not the basketball court.
Until he proves he has the same intensity on the court, as he does off of it, and shows the ability to inspire teammates the way Larry, Michael, and Magic did, James will never be more than a stat stuffer.
If someone has "The Chosen One" tattooed on their back, shouldn't they win at least one NBA Finals game?
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