LeBron James Saga: Everyone's Still Playing for Second, So Enough Already!

Pat Mixon@patmixonSenior Analyst IJuly 6, 2010

Can we please stop with the minute by minute LeBron James & Company free agency talk? Enough Already!

Let me break it to everyone in the simplest of terms: It doesn’t matter where LeBron lands nor who comes with him. Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers are still the best team in the NBA, and they're the one to beat next season.

To paraphrase one of the best sports quotes ever by Larry Bird right before a 1980s three-point contest at an All-Star Game, “Everyone is playing for second place.”

That's what LeBron and the rest of the dream free agents are all doing. Shuffling around and positioning, all still for second place.

The media, which I am a part of, has beaten the LeBron James Free Agency Saga to death. Even our beloved Bleacher Report is guilty of it. And they should be. That is because in a boring summer of tennis and a World Cup that most Americans care little about, LeBron is all that matters. His saga sells.

But, he doesn't matter. This is a guy who keeps winning regular season MVP trophies, but won’t walk away with a title until Kobe retires. Take that to the rim. 

That’s because LeBron simply doesn't have the killer instinct required of legends. He might develop it over time, but so far, no go.

What separates Kobe from the pack is that “Eye of the Tiger” mentality he possesses. And, it is similar to all the greats. Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, even Bill Russell all burned to win. At anything and everything.

All LeBron wants to do is have fun and build a global brand. But like I said in an article last week, even the Chinese won’t buy LeBron products until he proves he’s a winner. They want excellence. That’s why Kobe pummels LeBron in product sales in China.

It’s understandable. LeBron simply has other interests. He’s a much happier person, at least in the press, than Kobe. He seems carefree and that extends to his court demeanor. But while that makes LeBron extremely likable, it doesn't bode well for a champion.

Kobe is a warrior. I’ve mentioned it time and time again. Strength and honor. These aren’t just words to Kobe. They are mottos to die for.

Even the Olympics in the summer of 2008 proved this. During all the early games and routs, LeBron, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh (our hero free agents this summer) garnered all the attention while Kobe simply played lock-down defense and sat back.

That was, until the Gold Medal game versus Spain. As LeBron and Co.’s all got skittish during a close game (that Charles Barkley referred to “sphincter tightening”), Kobe did what he always does. He stepped up and carried the team to the victory. 

This summer is all about the “what ifs.” And, even if those come to fruition and LeBron gets together say with Dwyane Wade AND Chris Bosh on any team you want to pick, it won’t matter.

That's because the Lakers are still the team to beat. They have the talent, the experience, and last week got the biggest free agent signing of all, the best coach.

Phil Jackson returning to the Lakers for one more final run is like Pat Riley guaranteeing another ring for his 1980s Lakers. Jackson back with the Lakers only improves the Lakers’ chance for a three-peat.

So, it doesn’t matter who LeBron gets together with. None of the scenarios I’ve read, and believe me, there are thousands, put together a team that can beat the Lakers. 

The only good one I heard was LeBron going to Boston but that didn’t happen. The real reason all of this is a waste of time is because the Lakers have Kobe, Phil, and length.

That's right, there are only a handful of teams that can match up with the Lakers’ length. And, no team LeBron is currently projected to sign with can handle the Lakers.

The only reason the Celtics gave the Lakers and NBA fans a 2010 series for the ages was that Boston had length. They could play D and battle the Lakers inside. 

All of this LeBron frenzy is simply a waste of breath. The only place LeBron could go where there is real length to handle the Lakers is a shocker: The LA Clippers.

Yes, I said it, but it is true. With Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, and a slew of long, younger players, the Clips are actually a place LeBron would have a shot at taking on Kobe. If LeBron and another superstar free agent signed with the Clips, I’d be worried.

But as long as Donald Sterling owns the Clippers, I won’t lose a minute of sleep. LeBron isn’t going there. And because of that, I’m not concerned in the least about any LeBron team.

All of the LeBron scheming is simply positioning for a place in line. The second place in line. Period. 

That’s because all the talk is a waste of time. Enough already. We know how it is first, and we’ve known it all along.


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