We all have those times when we are so excited, so eager for some event to come, that we think about it for weeks and months before it happens and can’t sleep the night before.
Then that moment comes and reality hits. And you realize—it wasn’t at all what you had hoped.
A week ago, I had been really excited—rather, interested—to see if LeBron James would join forces with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. Heck, I even wrote about it. I had talked about how great the team would be, how they would be the perennial favorites year in and year out, and how—despite all the cynicism and doubt—it could very much happen.
Days later, after talking to some friends, watching ESPN, and reading B/R and other sports sites, any enthusiasm I had over a new Big Three scenario in Miami vanished. I didn’t care, I didn’t want it to happen—and now I know why.
LeBron James is no longer the player I thought he was.
He can no longer be compared to Jordan or Kobe—he doesn’t have that burning desire, that passion that all of the greatest players in NBA history had.
Don’t get me wrong; LeBron James will probably go down as one of the greatest athletes to ever pick up a basketball. But he’ll be far from one of the greatest players ever.
Had the King had that Zeal of Greatness like we all thought he had, he would have grabbed Bosh by the collar and gone to Chicago. That lineup, with James, Bosh, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, and Luol Deng, would have immediately become the best in the league. Chicago was the best basketball option. LeBron, if everything went according to plan, could have won three to five rings while he was there.
Even New York or Cleveland would have been a better choice. Had he won even once, he still could have been mentioned among the Greatest, bringing a championship to a franchise that hadn’t won in decades and writing his name in NBA history at the same time.
But he chose South Beach. He took the easy way out. Maybe he was tired of coming up short, of being the go-to guy night-in and night-out, of having all the pressure on him all of the time—I don’t know.
One thing's certain, though: We won’t be seeing the same James we’ve seen the last seven years.
LeBron, unlike his counterpart in Wade, will have to take on a Magic Johnson-like role, focusing more on getting triple-doubles than on scoring buckets. It’s Wade’s team, and he’s a much more explosive offensive threat as far as I’m concerned. He’s the one most likely to continue playing the way he does. We’ll see if the Next Big Three is humble and patient enough to make it all work.
To be honest, I don’t care if Pat Riley manages to fill the nine other minimum-salary roster spots and if the Heat begin living up to expectations. Over the course of this past week I’ve realized, just as in many other facets of life, tradition is slowly disappearing in the NBA.
No longer do we have individual players who are the faces of their teams. (There are a few exceptions, of course.) Rather, we’re going to be seeing superstars coming together in one place for a shot at the title, a trend that was started by the Celtics and emulated by the Heat.
Who knows? Maybe Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker will be joining Amar’e Stoudemire in New York to start yet another Triumvirate. We’d better get ready for the elite of the league to be placed in pairs and trios on teams. If you thought that the NBA was lopsided before, just wait and see where the league’s headed now.
But teaming up is the easy way out. Rely on others as good or better than yourself to finally win a ring. I wanted James to man up and take on the new Heat and everyone else in the NBA and prove to everybody that he was a competitor and a champion. That could have been in Cleveland, Chicago, or New York, but I guess it won’t ever happen.
LeBron James will always be an enigma for me. A player I will never truly be able to describe. A winner and a loser at the same time who didn’t have it in him to take the responsibility of a team of his own. If I had to guess, egos will get in the way in a few years and somebody will want out, like with the Lakers early last decade. Let me tell you: The King will have to leave Wade County way before Dwyane does.
And that’s a shame.
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