Lebron James Going To Miami Would Not Hurt The King's Legacy in Long Run

John NeumanCorrespondent IJuly 8, 2010

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers and Mo Williams #2 of the Cleveland Cavaliers exchange words during the game at Staples Center on December 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

Many people are talking about the fact that Lebron shouldn’t go to Miami to play with superstar Dwyane Wade and sidekick Chris Bosh.  Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov recently said James could win "two or three titles" but "diminish the LeBron brand" because he'd be winning with a star driven lineup. Funny how these people didn’t say this about Garnett when he went to Boston.


First off, rewind back to 2000.  Kobe Bryant was the kid from Lower Merion High School who was the sidekick to Shaquille O’Neal during the first three Lakers’ championships (2000-2002) under Phil Jackson.  While Shaq was the MVP in the Finals and the big man who directed the ship, averaging around 35 ppg in the Finals, Kobe was able to provide more than solid sidekick support and collect three quick championships at a young age.  At the time period, nobody was talking about Kobe winning titles, but speculating if other players could have played Kobe’s role with Shaq such as Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter.


Charles Barkley even said at the time that you could take 4 guys from the TNT studio and put them with Shaq and they would still win because he was that dominate and that good.  Shaq was 28 years old when he won his first championship, and Kobe was very much a part of it, a second part.


Kobe performed like a champion and played the sidekick role and after the Lakers hit a bump against the Pistons in 2004, Kobe decided it was time to go on his own – after he had the luxury of playing with Shaquille O’Neal in his prime and win three quick championships, it was time to secure his own brand and chase his own legacy.


Fast forward to 2008.  Kobe gets Pau Gasol, gets to the Final and gets trumped by the Big 3 in Boston.  The next year, 2009, Garnett goes down, Kobe gets his first Finals MVP (his first as team leader) trumping the weak Magic in the Final, and the Lakers mature into a legit defending champion and beat the Celtics in Game 7 in 2010 to complete the second title run with Kobe in the driver seat.


End result in 2010 – nobody is talking about how Shaq carried the Lakers back in 2000, but rather how Kobe has 5 and Shaq has 4.  It doesn’t matter that he was the first option on only two, but the only thing that matters is that he is a 5-time champion.  It doesn’t matter that he had the luxury to play in the triangle offense with the greatest coach of all time and the most dominant center in modern history at his prime age.  Nobody remembers Glen Rice helped on the 2000 championship just as nobody will remember  Trevor Ariza’s contribution on the 2009 championship.  The only thing that people will remember – Kobe Bryant has 5 championships.


The emphasis on the championship has never been made more important than in today’s game.  Basketball is a 5-on-5 game and legacies are often measured by titles, and in today’s day in age there is no excuses for not having won the big one, even if that means playing a second role or a third role.  Nobody wants to be Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, or Reggie Miller.  In the NBA, the players who are remembered the most throughout history are the ones with championship rings.


There’s nothing wrong with being the second option (whether it be Wade or James who takes that role on as time develops).  Scottie Pippen won 6 championships as a sidekick, was named to the First Team All NBA Defensive team 8 times, and made the NBA’s 50 Greatest Players of All Time list.  Pip has 6 more rings than Barkley and Webber, 5 more than Garnett, 4 more than Hakeem Olajuwon and Isiah Thomas.  People might say he was the ultimate sidekick, but his name will always hold more weight than Shawn Kemp, Rik Smits, and Alex English because he has 6 and they have zero.


Lebron James can collect two or three titles with Wade.  Then, if the guys can’t get along with each other, want more money, or it becomes too easy and they want to move on to take a leadership position with a different team, then they can do that when the time comes. 


Why not sign a three or four year deal?  That puts Lebron at an age where he can still move on and win championships elsewhere.  Why not collect a quick two or three while he’s still young to have a chance to tie Jordan at 6 or, call it a stretch, but make a run at Bill Russell’s mark?  At the end of the day, nobody cares how you got there, but that you got there!

Then, maybe one day, Lebron can utter, "I just got one more than Kobe!"  But, as it stands, he has to put the trophy up 6 more times to do that.  Now is the time to start!