Heat's Needs, Chicago the Savior, Big 3's Roles, James Legacy Tarnished?
Everyone is tired of talking about LeBron’s big decision to join Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami. However, I think now is the perfect time to talk about the issue simply because there are so many directions it can be taken. One can talk about how this team is simply not good enough to be a championship contender until it surrounds itself with other talent, the changed role of each player of the deemed “Holy Trinity,” or how crippling this move will be to LeBron’s legacy.
The Heat's Secondary Components for Success
Although the Miami Heat is currently ranked as the safest bet to win the 2011 NBA Finals, I would not put any wager on them as of right now. Obviously the Heat has established a great core of players, but they need to surround themselves with more talent. If they do not surround themselves with decent talent, the Heat will amass a good record only to fall short in the playoffs, similar to the Cavaliers. With the talent it currently possess, Miami has the best shot ever at breaking the best regular season record set by Michael Jordan and the 1996 Bulls team that went 72-10. However, I doubt even a team of Miami’s caliber has quite the same ability because they have not yet developed the chemistry that the 1996 Bulls had. Also, there are not enough poor quality teams for the Heat to take advantage. If the Heat are to legitimately pursue the best record in NBA history, it will be in either 2012 or 2013, not 2011, nor after 2013 because the “Holy Trinity” will be getting too old to pursue such an accomplishment. I feel as though the Michael Beasley trade was a terrific decision, as it will relinquish over $5 million in cap space to sign more free agents. Pat Riley said it was a difficult decision, but really this was just courtesy, Miami realized that Beasley was not the player they thought he would be and hopes to get some decent players with the additional cap space. The Heat needs to add some free agents and not just third-rate, minimum salary players. NO! The Heat needs some decent to good talent like 5x NBA champion Derek Fisher. For more insight on this topic check out the following article by Yahya Syed: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/418250-miami-heats-next-move-signing-shaq-allen-iverson-and-others.
Impact of the 1st Pick of 2008
On a side note, as a Bulls fan, I am glad that Chicago made the right decision with the first overall pick in the 2008 NBA draft despite being projected by many sources to select Beasley. This is because Derrick Rose has been a quiet leader for Chicago and has averaged 18.7 PPG coupled with 6.2 APG. This is much better than Beasley’s 14.3 PPG with 1.2 APG. Though they are expected to help in different ways because of their differing positions, Rose has been much more beneficial to his team; whereas, Beasley has been at the center of two marijuana controversies. Rose also shows more promise in the league as his ability to drive to the hoop has opened up more as his mid-range shot has developed and he has been working on his 3-pt shot. The Bulls dodged a bullet by opting with the more talented Rose. Even Pat Riley was quoted as saying “the Heat saw no reason to mix Beasley's silly antics and inconsistent production in with the new all-business approach” Also, if Rose had gone to Miami, imagine just how amazing they would be, four All-Stars and the potential to sign another, unbelievable. The NBA should all thank Chicago for its actions that may have indirectly prevented a starting five exclusively composed of All-Stars.
New Reduced Roles of the Big Three
As soon as LeBron announced that he was going to make Miami his new kingdom, I received a text with these three words, “GLORIFIED ROLE PLAYER.” This is clearly going to be the case, now three of the top 10 leaders in the regular season’s points per game are going to see a dramatic drop in their stats. LeBron ranked number two in the NBA with 29.7 PPG, Dwyane Wade was 5th with 26.6 PPG, and Chris Bosh was 9th with 24.0 PPG. The trio will obviously still be a force to reckon with, and will each have some impressive stats. The key for the Heat’s success will be the ability of the three men to work together and prove that they can share one court among three super stars. Bosh’s development of the ability to pass and look to create plays will make or break the Heats playoff chances. Yes, each player will have the occasional game with eye-popping stats, but those games will be much fewer and farther between. Their average stats will doubtlessly drop. I believe that LeBron and D-Wade will ease into their new roles and become more team players, looking for the pass. The two naturally look to create the best play, even if it means that they are not the ones making taking the shot. It just happened to be that over the past few years LeBron and Dwyane were both typically the best options to make a positive play. Chris Bosh, on the other hand, will not be the type of selfless player that LeBron and Dwayne Wade will be. However, I do believe he will be a much bigger team player than he was in the past. He has already shown this with LeBron and Dwyane through their willingness to taking reduced salaries for the sake of winning. This once again goes along with Pat Riley’s statement about the team wanting to focus on business. This team is full of young veteran stars who are willing to work together in order to finally feel a true sense of victory—though Dwyane has already experience this. The trio clearly respects one another’s abilities and will lower their individual stats so that they can truly be viewed as great. Now whether they will be viewed as great is up to the fans.
LeBron's Legacy, Tarnished Forever?
It is the fans whose opinion matters the most in determining a players legacy. How great the legend is based on how great the fans see a particular player to be. With this in mind, the fans, especially those scorned like Cleveland, Chicago, New York, New Jersey, and LA, will never view LeBron as a great player after moving to Miami. LeBron addressed this in his post-press conference interview, convincing himself that winning is glorious despite the circumstances, and that no form of winning is superior to another. By this logic winning the 4th grade free-throw contest has the same satisfaction as winning a Super Bowl. The fact of the matter is the greatest of an accomplishment is measured by the situation. The Heat could win the championship for the next six years, and LeBron may use his ego to convince himself that it was all done because of him, and doubtless they would be unable to win for such a period of time without his authoritative presence, but he will not be viewed as an accomplished players by the fans. Not nearly as accomplished as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, or Kobe Bryant. Players who, as LeBron pointed out, had talent around them. The fact is that these players made the talent around them better just by being on the team and drawing the attention of the defense to themselves, opening up the players that surround them. This is simply because great players have the ability to win on their own. If LeBron wanted to be doubtlessly considered a great player, then he would have stayed in Cleveland or gone to Chicago or New York, teams with talent in place like Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Loul Deng, Amar’e Stoudemire, Wilson Chandler, etc. But not talent that is considered elite, or at least has yet to make a huge name for themselves in the league, compared to players like Bosh and Wade. No matter how much success LeBron finds in Miami, he will not be viewed as a winner simply because he could not win on his own. He had to crawl on his hands and knees to the throne of Dwyane Wade and grovel at Wade’s feet simply to ride off of Wade’s success. Despite the legitimacy of that claim, that might as well be fact because the fans will NEVER view LeBron as a true winner.