Coming To LeBron's Defense: Six Myths Of The Summer Of 2010
The past few weeks have been all LeBron, all the time; so now it's my turn to chime in. On behalf of the "King."
In honor of the six teams vying for LeBron's services, his switch to number six, and perhaps the number of titles he needs to win to start being in the best ever conversation, here are six myths that have been thrown out as fact over the past days.
You're welcome LeBron.
1. LeBron has made a super spectacle of this ordeal.
Selfish. Immature. Egotistical. LeBron James has been described by these adjectives, and many similar unkind words in the past few weeks since becoming a free agent.
Every media member who doesn't have to deal with LeBron directly (so basically everybody but ESPN) has been taking shots at him relentlessly, saying that he's milking his free agency for all that it is worth, that his ego has overtaken him and made him into a monster.
But let's take a look at what really has generated all of the buzz around this.
Who started making this "Summer of 2010" such a big deal as much as two years ago?
Who initiated every free agency remark about LeBron's whereabouts next season?
Who said that there would be an elaborate free agency tour where LeBron would go to each city and get pitches from each team that desired him?
The answer to all of those questions is "not LeBron James."
Yes, LeBron and his marketing camp have arranged for a one hour special on ESPN to announce his big decision. Yes, that is taking it overboard. But is it not taking advantage of a situation like any good business man would do? LeBron is getting criticized unmercifully for this, but what type of NBA fan will NOT be watching?
Doesn't this "special" ensure that the time for his decision will be known by all and that he himself will be able to make the big announcement instead of some reporter getting a leak and then having LeBron give him comments later?
Still, the "special" is a bit overboard for my taste, and the taste of most other people. At least make it 30 minutes instead of an hour. But really, what else has LeBron generated to hype this offseason?
Since when did it become a crime to be a free agent? What has LeBron done besides meet with six teams and wait a few extra days than most basketball fans/media members may have preferred? Most of the hype put out there has been by media members, not LeBron.
Since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semis, LeBron has been getting nothing but bad press and blame for everything that he's done/involves him. It's time he gets a little break (before he gets killed by all the fan bases that he left in the dust this offseason).
2. LeBron is the only one taking advantage of this free agency hoopla
Not only is LeBron not the only one taking advantage (among actual free agents) of this whole "Summer of 2010," but I would argue that he might not even be the main offender of marketing himself this offseason.
Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are both filming documentaries on this free agency experience. About themselves.
There were rumors that Wade expressed interest in joining Chicago only to increase drama for the situation and add content for his documentary (I don't actually believe this, Wade had plenty of incentive to go to Chicago).
Also, in an interview with Michael Wilbon on SportsCenter, Wade basically said he chose playing with Bosh over being able to see his kids in Chicago more frequently. I'm not saying Wade is a bad guy for that, but if LeBron had made a similar statement, he'd be getting killed right now.
Bosh posted a photo on Twitter with him and Wade and an empty seat in the middle, saying that "someone was missing." I'm pretty sure LeBron didn't tell Bosh to tweet that just to raise speculation of a Wade-Bosh-LeBron super trio somewhere.
LeBron's big show might trump anything Bosh or Wade did to publicize their free agency intentions, but either hold all of them accountable, or don't criticize any of them. Bosh and Wade did plenty to hold people on the edge of their seats this July, except they got off without being called egotistical maniacs.
Good for them. Not so good for LeBron.
Now we get into some likely scenarios for LeBron and a few myths about those.
3. If LeBron goes to New York, they will not be a contender right away.
Wade and Bosh are being described as a dynamic duo that can come in and contend in the Eastern Conference right away, so why couldn't LeBron and Amar'e Stoudemire? (Adding Bosh to Wade, Michael Beasley, and Mario Chalmers, + whatever else the get would definitely be an upgrade from last year's fifth place Heat team. So they would be a top four team in the East most likely, enabling them to contend).
The Knicks lineup would look like this presumably, if LeBron decided to go there next season.
Guards: LeBron, Toney Douglas
Forwards: Danilo Gallinari, Amar'e Stoudemire (with Wilson Chandler off the bench)
Center: Player X (Sorry Eddy Curry, you're not starting next year)
The Knicks would probably be able to sign a few veteran role players at the league minimum as well, putting together an underwhelming minus Amar'e supporting cast. But when Amar'e is added into the mix, then that is a team that is probably better than the Hawks and could challenge the Celtics in the playoffs.
Orlando would still have to be the favorite in the East next year if this scenario comes to pass, but the Knicks would be better than people think (LeBron went to the Finals with the likes of Larry Hughes, Zydrunus Ilguaskas, and Drew Gooden as his best teammates remember).
4. LeBron will be Wade's sidekick in Miami.
How can the overwhelmingly voted back-to-back MVP be a sidekick to anybody? Yes, Wade is a fixture in South Beach and brought the Heat their only championship, but if LeBron ends up in Miami then that immediately become LeBron's team.
It would have to be LeBron's team too. If the Heat don't go out and get a better point guard (likely), then James would probably resume his duties as point forward like he played in Cleveland. Wade and LeBron need a large amount of touches and are probably the two most dangerous driving players in the league, but I think anyone would agree that LeBron is a little more potent than Wade. Is it harder to stop a super athletic 6'4" player or a super athletic 6'8" player who is built like a tank. I'll take option B.
The Heat are going to want LeBron (again, the back-to-back MVP) to take on a leadership role in Miami, and LeBron will want to as well. Dwyane seems like the more likely guy to take a back seat to the other, and he probably realizes (as well as their coach, and Pat Riley) the LeBron is the better player.
If anything it will be 1A and 1B in Miami, but LeBron will not be playing Pippen to Jordan or even Kobe to Shaq in Miami.
5. LeBron and Wade cannot coexist as teammates.
There haven't been too many similar situations to what Wade and LeBron would be in Miami. Two of the league's best three players have played together semi-recently (Kobe-Shaq in L.A.), but that was a completely different deal. Kobe and Shaq were obviously two completely different types of players who thrived in different situations. The marriage of those two famously ended in divorce despite the differences in their games.
So why could LeBron and Wade play together, despite their very similar styles of play?
Reason one: Because they're so dang good.
By most measures, LeBron and Wade are two of the top three players in the NBA right now (some would throw Dwight Howard or Kevin Durant in the mix, but most smart NBA people would probably agree on Wade being a top three guy). Even if their chemistry isn't great, they will still perform. Shaq and Kobe weren't on the same page all the time, but the had great success together.
But LeBron and Wade aren't Shaq and Kobe. They actually get along and know each other's strengths in their games (from playing with them, and against them). Teams cannot stop both of these players either. That's what would make them so dangerous. LeBron and Wade are both players deserving of a team's best lockdown defender. If that guy is guarding LeBron, Wade is going to destroy the opposition. Put that guy on Wade, and LeBron is dropping 40.
These guys are just too good and too versatile not to be able to play together.
Reason two: Because they are actually good friends.
Wade said this on live TV on Tuesday "it's no secret that LeBron and I are good friends."
It's definitely not a secret. Sources say that LeBron and Wade (along with Bosh) have talked numerous times through this free agency process and have been intrigued about the possibility of playing together.
They were, of course, teammates on the 2008 gold medal-winning USA basketball squad, where both players played great (with Wade in a more complementary role off the bench).
This isn't a staged or forced friendship. These guys are actually buddies. Maybe not best friends, but good friends none the less.
They certainly aren't Kobe and Shaq, and that is definitely a complement.
Reason three: They would change their games to suit the team.
A big gripe about James' game is his relative lack of a post up game. At 6'8" with super freak athleticism and a 250+ pound frame, he should be able to develop one.
With Wade being able to handle the bulk of the perimeter scoring and slashing, LeBron would be able to tinker with his skills and become and even more complete player (this is a scary thought).
Wade would be able to save his body from the normal beating it takes from slashing to rim endlessly since LeBron is pretty good at that too.
In short, the load which has been shouldered by LeBron and DWade for their whole careers would suddenly be lightened considerably, allowing them to be fresher and more focused.
Playing with each other should make LeBron and Wade better players if anything.
6. If LeBron goes to Miami, they won't necessarily win a championship.
Let's take a look at the Lakers three-peat teams. Here are the third, fourth, and fifth leading scorers on those teams
2000:Glen Rice, Ron Harper, Rick Fox
2001: Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Horace Grant
2002: Derek Fisher, Rick Fox, Devean George
Who says you can't win a championship with mediocre role players? Actually these aren't really role players, they are the third and fourth options on a title team. A past his prime Glen Rice is only a third option on a title team if Kobe and Shaq or the star power equivalent are the number one and two.
Wouldn't LeBron and Wade bring as much to the table as Kobe-Shaq? Or at least be close? Then add Bosh, one of the top five post players in the NBA, to the mix and how does that team not win the title?
I'm assuming LeBron-Wade-Bosh work out a deal where one or more signs for less than max, and Toronto does not sign-and trade-for Beasley in creating a lineup for them next season.
Here is a comparison on what Miami would look like against the Lakers head-to-head
C Minimum Player X/Andrew Bynum (if he can stay healthy...HA!)
PF Chris Bosh/Pau Gasol
SF LeBron James/Ron Artest
SG Dwyane Wade/Kobe Bryant
PG Mario Chalmers/Derek Fisher? Steve Blake?
6th Man Michael Beasley/ Lamar Odom
Those teams are actually very similar, except for the fact that Miami always has two guys who can score 30 on any given night. And then they have Bosh too. The Lakers actually match up okay with them because Bryant and Artest are two great defenders to stick on Wade and James, and Bosh and Gasol would essentially cancel each other out, but James, Wade, and Bosh just seem like a bit too much for Kobe, Gasol, and Co.
Hmmm...this could be very interesting.
The good thing is that the wait is almost over. LeBron will make his choice tomorrow at 9 p.m., and the NBA will either be centered in Miami for the immediate future or stay relatively the same (if he chooses either New York or Cleveland...I don't think Chicago is in his plans).
LeBron may have made some enemies (unjustly) with this summer and it's pomp, but all eyes will be watching a television set with him announcing his future destination on Thursday.
I know I will.
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