Now that the regular season has come to an end, it is time to review the two big moves of the season.
It is not very often that one player of this caliber changes teams, but to have two make the move in the same season is very rare.
Lebron James and Carmelo Anthony, both from the draft of 2003, each jumped teams this year. They used decidedly different methods to make their moves, and, of course, since no move is made in a vacuum, their moves affected other people and teams.
The TV ego-drama episode in which he left Cleveland, sadly, showed more insight into the character of James then most knew or wanted to.
The show was akin to a spouse not only cheating on their partner, but then making sure that their spouse not only walked in to catch them in the act, but also recorded it to share their embarrassment with all.
He followed this up with a horribly planed Nike ad, and has repeatedly stuck his foot in his mouth throughout the season.
James is more than just his on-court abilities, he is a brand.
His all important Q rating plummeted following his move. He was once one of the most well liked athletes in the country, but has since dropped to the top six disliked athletes. This country is one that is willing to forgive, and many thought his numbers would bounce back quickly. However, the rise has been slow and far behind schedule.
His low Q rating last summer was 14, he has now crept up to 17, but that is not a positive rating. If that rating doesn’t increase by the time his off-court contracts are up (Nike, McDonald’s, etc), then those companies will be hard pressed to invest the millions that they have in him.
As of now, he has severely lost in this category. Only time will tell if, and how much, he will rebound.
What many people miss is what James admitted by making this move. While there is no doubting the amazing abilities that he possesses, there have been questions about his ability to lead a team, and if he has that killer instinct needed to be a champ.
By making the move to a team with an established star in Dwayne Wade, James admitted that he needs someone to be the 1A player so that he can be the 1B player.
Much like Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, now Wade will have a more talented version of that in James.
Despite the selfish method in which he moved, his admission of this deficiency is quite surprising for a player of his caliber, and should be complimented.
He was not going to win a title in Cleveland, regardless of who they brought in, so moving was the only way to accomplish his goal of winning a title.
It is hard to imagine this team not being able to win at least one championship with the players that they have assembled. However, if they fail to win it all, then the move—and the damage to his popularity—will have all been for nothing.
The team wins on all accounts on this one.
Once the team announced the signing of James and Bosh, ticket sales went through the roof. They went from being ranked 14th in attendance, based on percentage of capacity, to the top spot this year.
They pack the house at home and on the road. Some will root for them because of the star power, others will view them as the team they love to hate. Either way, it fills the seats and brings them money. Merchandise sales have gone up, and they get plenty of TV time.
On the court, they have gone from 47 wins to 58 wins this year.
They were bounced from the playoffs in the first round last season, and time will tell how successful this team will be in the playoffs.
Their regular season hasn’t gone as smoothly as they envisioned. There was talk before the season about breaking the Chicago Bulls' record of 72 wins, but a 5-4 start slowed such talk. At the end of November, they were only 9-8, but they rode a 21-1 streak well into January that showed their potential.
Since then, they have had several ups and downs, putting together several multi-game winning and losing streaks as they went through the season. The pressure is high for them to win a title, and fast.
Each year that they fail to do so will only intensify that pressure.
The Cavs just flat out lost on this one.
Having James leave was worse than when other stars opt to leave in free agency. James was the hometown hero.
Growing up just down the road, James was able to come to the team he rooted for growing up. The Cavs have spent their history in sports obscurity, but he made them relevant for the first time since their inception. Until James arrived, people only thought of the Cavs because of Jordan and "The Shot."
Sadly, now without James, when people think of the Cavs, they think of "The Decision." If a team can’t keep their own local talent, then how can they attract other players to the team?
Obviously, the slap in the face that happened on the show hurt, but at least that endeared them to many people.
In the long run, that really doesn’t do anything for them, as their on the court play has been atrocious. Team owner Dan Gilbert endeared himself to Cavs fans with a letter that ripped James and defended his team, city, and fans.
While this was nice for his fans, it really didn’t do much beyond Ohio.
The real area that has hurt the Cavs is the lack of a plan B.
They felt that James was going to resign with the team. After that, they planned to chase some other free agents to hopefully make the team stronger. Instead, once James left, they had nowhere to go and nothing planned.
If James had made it known that he'd wanted out, much like Anthony did, the team could have planned ahead for life without James. Instead, he left them high and dry. They went from leading the league last year, with 61 wins, to plummeting to the second worst record in the league, at 19-63.
The longer they languish at the bottom of the league, the softer people's negative feelings for James will be, as it will prove that he did have a reason for leaving.
Anthony got what he wanted, but will he regret it?
In Denver, he was the darling of the team. While fans always want a championship, they at least had a competitive team in the Nuggets that they knew would make the playoffs every year.
In New York, Anthony will not be coddled by fans or media. Every defensive lapse, every bad move, loss, and early playoffs exit with be scrutinized to a level he is not used to. Simply making the playoffs will not be enough.
Will Anthony be able to handle the added pressure of playing in New York?
Anthony’s offensive prowess is well known; he has a career average of 24.8 points per game. Not counting his first two years in the league, his average jumps to 26.2.
Outside of scoring, though, there are too many holes in his game.
Just comparing his numbers to others forwards in the league, he does not rank in the top 25 in FG percentage, blocks, or rebounds. He is fifth in turnovers. In fact, over the season he only had 15 more assist than turnovers.
Many analysts and sportswriters have discussed Anthony’s bad habits with selfish style, questionable leadership, and inconsistent play. In New York, he will need to change that.
The bright side for Anthony is that he is now paired with Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire had many of the same labels placed on him early in his career. Now, in his first season in New York, he has reinvented himself and his game.
Will Anthony be able to follow Stoudemire’s example? Is he willing to put in the time and effort? Only time will tell if Anthony’s dream move to New York was worth it.
Anthony made it known that he would be leaving the team.
While this was done more so behind the scenes at first, word leaked out, and the season of speculation began. The team had to suffer through constant rumors and trade talk for a healthy part of the season, despite the fact that they were still playing good basketball and were in the thick of the playoff hunt.
They were 32-25, a .561 winning percentage, prior to the trade. Since the trade, they started winning at a .720 clip; finishing on an 18-7 run.
Where the Nuggets really win is that they got something for Anthony.
He was leaving at the end of the season anyway, and it was known that his dream choice was the New York Knicks. Instead of watching Anthony walk away for nothing in the off season, they somehow were able to wrangle several good young players away from the Knicks.
With this move, they not only get younger, but perhaps even better all around.
While there is no denying Anthony's talent as a shooter, he is soft on defense. Without Anthony in the lineup, their offense has actually improved a little. The bigger improvement was seen on the defensive side, where they went from giving up almost 105 points a game before the trade, to only 96 afterwards.
The team may not have the superstar power that Anthony gave them. They did gain some talented players from the trade, however, that should help them for several seasons to come.
It is difficult to consider this a good deal for the Knicks when they paid so dearly for someone who they were likely to get for free, player wise, if they had only waited a few months.
On the court, the team was two games over .500 before the trade. Since the trade they are only 14-14. As a team, neither their offense nor defense has improved with Anthony. Other than his star power, it doesn’t appear that he has brought any significant benefit to the team.
In order to obtain Anthony’s rights early, the Knicks had to give up Raymond Felton, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari. These three players have easily melded into the Nuggets’ team and helped them to improve.
Along with Anthony, the trade also brought point guard Chauncey Billups to New York. While Billups is still a very capable player who has championship experience, the Knicks gave away a lot of youth. In comparing Billups' New York stats to Raymond Felton's, who held the point guard spot before the trade, there appears to be a drop off.
With Anthony not improving the team significantly, then why make the trade?
If they were sure that they wanted Anthony, then waiting for him to become a free agent this summer would have been the smarter move. They could have kept more players, had a full off season to all get on the same page, and then attacked the season as one from the start.
Instead, they have raised expectations to a level that they simply will not meet. They are no closer to a championship now than they were before the trade.
Only time will tell how successful any of these moves will be.
Does Lebron’s move bring him the championship he so desires? Is it worth his public image?
Can Anthony change his game to reach that next level? Will the Cavs be able to rebuild? Can the Nuggets keep rolling with their new players?
These are just some of the questions we will be looking to answer during these playoffs.