Let me clear this up right away...LeBron James is the second best player in the NBA behind Kobe Bryant. He can get to the rim at will and has improved his defense tremendously since entering the league. He is the face of the NBA and is a model citizen off the court.
But his actions since last May are becoming too hard to ignore. He has gotten a free pass from the media since he was in high school and the man can get away with things that essentially every other player can't.
This all started back in May after the Conference Finals.
He attempted to single handily beat the Magic and when he came up short he refused to shake hands with the victors. He stormed off and even left his demoralized teammates out to dry as James skipped out on the post-game press conference as well. Most people looked at this as if he was the ultimate competitor or he just hates losing so much so they rationalized.
Who likes losing? Of course most players don't want to deal with that crap after getting beat but they do, because they are professionals. LeBron acted liked an amateur.
This summer James sat back and let rumors about his impending 2010 free agency swirl . He didn't make a single comment on the situation and left Cavs fans sweating bullets in full on paranoia mode. That's not what I have a problem with.
When the Cavs invaded Madison Square Garden last month James looked like a foster kid that just met his real dad.
He was engaged with the crowd and with all the famous celebrities sitting court-side and even wore shoes that had NYC written on them. After the game there was a line of famous people waiting on him to talk. Jay-Z, A-Rod, C.C. Sabathia, and Mark Texeria were all there giving him the New York pitch.
And just last week he was doing a dance on the sideline during a blow-out win against the Chicago Bulls. IT WAS DURING LIVE ACTION. I've never even heard of anything like that before. Where is the professionalism and respect for the game at?
All the above is off the court stuff. On the court he has created a unique situation. He is the most exciting player in the NBA, so you would think he is on a must-see team. The reality is that the Cavs have turned into quite possibly the most boring team in the league and the hardest to watch.
Time and time again four Cavs are spectators as LeBron sits on the ball waiting to breakdown an opponent one-on-one. The offensive game-plan for the Cavs seemingly has two plays: High pick for LeBron with Shaq or Z, and a curl screen for Delonte West or Mo Williams.
Tuesday night's game against the Memphis Grizzles was a perfect example. He held the ball for 15-20 seconds of the shot clock before launching a three or barreling down the lane making the officials blow the whistle. The Grizz figured this out and Rudy Gay was able to get a few crunch time steals because of it.
On the final possession in regulation James sat at the top of the key for a good 15 seconds with no movement at all by the other four Cavs. Finally with about five seconds left on the shot clock he lowered his shoulder and barreled down the lane drawing the foul and sending the game into OT.
James has gotten into the habit of using his brute strength to punish the defender. He doesn't give them a chance to move their feet and attempt to play solid D. He knows the refs give him the benefit of the doubt and he takes advantage of a ton, especially in the last two minutes of games.
He tried to do the same in OT but this time the Grizz were able to avoid his initiated contact and force him into a bad shot. Then his shot to win the game resulted in a extremely tough fad-away that didn't have a prayer.
Sure he had 43 points and 13 boards, but why did he shoot 13 three's?
James is taking the city of Cleveland for a roller coaster ride of emotions and he seemingly enjoys doing it. He asked reporters to stop asking him about his free agency saying its getting old. What's getting old is the way he continually shoves his other options directly into the face of Cavalier ownership.
James needs to spend next summer with Kobe and learn from him. He needs to develop a post up game so he can stop running over people while taking a beating in the process. He needs to stop taking so many three-pointers and fade-aways.
James hasn't improved his game since the improbable run to the 2007 NBA Finals against the Spurs. It seems that he is comfortable with his current averages of 28 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Amazing numbers for sure.
But he is capable of more. He was touted as the next MJ but that killer instinct isn't there.
The straight out of high school star has become complacent with his current position. But will the team that he plays for next year feel the same way after dropping hundred's of millions of dollars on him? Who knows...