Cleveland Cavaliers: Does LeBron James Really Make His Teammates Better?

J VillaContributor IMay 15, 2010

CLEVELAND - APRIL 17:  LeBron James #23, Antawn Jamison #4 and Shaquille O'Neal #33 of the Cleveland Cavaliers leave the bench after defeating the  Chicago Bulls 96-83 in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on April 17, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio.  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 Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

First things first. I understand that what I'm about to say is going to cause a flood of responses, some agreeing, but many more disagreeing; some polite, and I'm sure many more not-so-polite.

But let's get one thing straight. I don't give a crap. You may be one of those dimwits who gobble up anything an ESPN article tells you about LeBron, like an amateur teen on a redtube video. That's fine. Those articles are created for mass consumption, basically a sales pitch by the league to convince everyone that LeBron is the next Jordan. They have to.

Why? I'll tell you why.

Imagine you're the owner of McDonald's. One day, all the cows in the world disappear. There's no more beef. How do you make a Big Mac? How do you make a juicy burger that you've made squillions of dollars selling without the beef?

Then one day, you stumble upon a new species of animal. It's meat and when cooked just right it tastes similar to beef. It's not exactly the same, but close enough that it brings back the joyous memories of beef when your customers taste it.

What are you going to do?

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I'll tell you what you'd do. You'd sell that new meat like your damn life depended on it. You'd do absolutely anything you could to convince people that this new meat was just like beef...no, better than beef, even!

That's what the league's mandate is.

They rode the coattails of international icon Michael Jordan, and since he hung them up they've been desperate for the next cash cow. So they sell you LeBron. It used to be Kobe, but then the court case thing tarnished his image and along came LeBron.

Bigger. Faster. Stronger. Clean slate.

Doesn't quite have the killer instinct that Jordan and Kobe had/has? What else can we sell about him then? I know: He's unselfish . He makes his teammates better. Let's sell that.

But wait; how can we claim that while he's getting booted out of the playoffs by Orlando and Boston? I know: blame his supporting cast. He just doesn't have a supporting cast like Kobe has.


He's got Mo Will, who was an "All-Star" (snicker), Jamison (come on, don't tell me that every Cavs fan wasn't proclaiming a title this year after that acquisition), Shaq (who's still better than half the centers in the league), Anderson Varejao (his consistent hustle in the absence of talent is about equal to Odom's talent in the absence of consistent hustle), and a pretty damn good bench.

Who would you rather have: Anthony Parker or Sasha Vujacic? Big Z or Mbenga? JJ Hickson or Josh Powell? Put it this way: He ain't exactly carrying the Miami Heat like D-Wade is.

LeBron is the best athlete and probably the best individual player in the league. But why does everyone accept it as a universal fact that he makes anyone he plays with better?

I'd like to put forth a new answer to the question: "Does LeBron make his teammates better?"

Yes and no.

LeBron is like a lot of makeup. If you take a girl who's a one-out-of-10 and you put a lot of makeup on her, suddenly she's a three. But if you take a girl who's a seven-out-of 10 and you put a lot of makeup on her, then you turn her into a three, too.

What I'm saying is LeBron takes bad players and hides their weaknesses with his brilliance (*cough* Boobie Gibson). But he also takes good players and covers their strengths with his dominance.

LeBron is so dominant and brilliant that everything runs through him (a hell of a lot of players would average eight assists per game if they had the ball as much as he did), which is good if you're a scrub playing on his team because it allows you to chip in here and there and look like a model role player. But it's not so good if you're a good player in your own right and need the ball sometimes, too.

Calls to team LeBron with D-Wade or Bosh would be disastrous, unless the league started playing games with two balls going at once (that would be fun to see). LeBron with another All-Star just won't work. All due respect, but Mo Williams got in last year because they weren't actually allowed to give LeBron two spots.

LeBron is personally responsible for: Mo Williams' All-Star berth, people knowing Daniel Gibson's name, and about 99 percent of JJ Hickson's points, but he's also responsible for the death of Larry Hughes (check his stats the year before he came to Cleveland), and now Antawn Jamison.

LeBron James makes his teammates better? Let's stop with all that already.

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