A Guest Post By: Jon Levin, Los Angeles, California
As much as everyone’s “sources” were saying LeBron was going to Miami, I thought the chances of it actually happening were slim-to-none. Maybe it’s because I’m a Lakers fan or because I’m not a LeBron James fan, but this entire free agency process made me like him even less. I used to believe Lebron had something of a mental foundation in place, at least a teaspoon of that “killer” in him that we see from guys like Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. The type of mentality that wills those around you to put forth effort they might not have thought they had in them. Before the Boston series this year and last night’s announcement, I thought LeBron had enough of that in him to be able to be the primary leader of a team. I was proven wrong when a mentally tougher Boston team took it to Lebron, who seemed disinterested in key stretches of the games. Now we see Lebron leaving his leadership role and his hometown to hit up Miami with D-Wade – a team with two proven stars and one in Dwyane Wade who, in my opinion, is most comparable to Kobe Bryant in terms of displaying that “killer” mentality.
Lebron’s decision spoke volumes to me. I really think LeBron is not who many of us thought he was. LeBron seemed to desire the image of being a primary leader, a floor general as they call it. A Magic Johnson. A Larry Bird. A Michael Jordan. A Kobe Bryant. None of these players left their team to join forces with others. They recruited stars to their team to build a complete unit around them. They were the clear-cut leaders, both with their mentalities and with their play. Tonight showed us who LeBron is. He joined forces with Wade and Bosh. Don’t take it from me, look what Pat Riley had to say about it,“We are thrilled that LeBron James and Chris Bosh have decided to come to Miami to join forces with our truly great player, Dwyane Wade.”
It may seem like I’m knocking LeBron’s game. That couldn’t be farther from how I feel. He is the most incredible combination of size, speed, strength, and basketball skill that the league has ever seen. He’s the fastest and strongest guy in the NBA. It’s pretty insane to think about. I mean, he does seem to just bulrush the lane hoping to get an And-1 a lot, but it’s a smart call to make considering his size and speed even if its pretty terrible basketball to watch.
Many like to say, “Well Magic had Kareem and Worthy, Bird had McHale and Parish, Jordan had Pippen, Horace Grant and Rodman, and Kobe had Shaq” – but we can’t look at Lebron in the same light as Magic, Bird, Jordan, and Kobe anymore. Those guys never gave up their primary role to co-lead with others on a different team. Those four were born leaders; they weren’t forced into the role due to their overwhelming talent. I don’t blame LeBron. That type of role is an incredibly difficult role to play. It’s one you can’t force upon someone – it has to come naturally. Mr. James just isn’t that player — and therefore can’t be included in the type of discussions the legendary figures above are in.
So now to the state of the league. Call me a homer all you want, the Lakers are still the team to beat. Period. Even without knowing the rest of the Heat’s new roster. I also still like the Celtics and semi-like the Magic over the Heat coming out of the east, but that could change with news that Mike Miller is going to be signing with the Heat and I’m sure a few other above average role players are soon to follow. I feel like the Celtics will follow a similar path leading to a deep run into the playoffs as they did last year. They will have multiple bumps in the road during the regular season and will go through stretches where they seem to be a bit disinterested in regular season action — but they are a veteran team and know how to turn it on come playoff time. Also, from personal experience, teams come out crazy-determined the year following a Finals loss and the Celtics have retained their core players. Next year is going to be a blast to watch. I’m only three weeks off of a finals victory and I can’t wait for next year already. October can’t come soon enough.
(A side note: I don’t think the whole “King” nickname is appropriate anymore, or maybe ever was. Kings don’t leave their country (or team) to join forces as co-kings in other countries (or teams). Plus, you need to have accomplished something before being anointed a king metaphorically; something like winning a ring.)
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