LeBron James Goes To…Miami?

Yes, I kept watch over it, in part because you couldn’t escape from it on sports radio. And with one of the Sports Radio chains (ESPN) doing the announcement live, I had to listen on their station (I immediately went over to WSCR to listen to the “News Flash” and reacted ONLY then.

And yes, I’m reacting late. Seems my pattern, if I even react.

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First, everyone knows he had four choices. Here’s the four choices, in the way that I understood them:

  1. The Right Choice (Cleveland). This would have meant him declaring loyalty to the hometown fans as important, and fed into the mythology that superstars tend to stick with their teams through the end. Warm fuzzies everywhere, with even the losing teams rubbing salve on their wounds. (Note that I don’t mean there’s any WRONG choices, but this would have been the most right given a strict following of rules both written and unwritten).
  2. The Best Choice (Chicago). Here you’re talking about a team on the rise. LeBron could have come in as the new leader and ushered the team into dominance in time to help them grow in the spotlight, even sticking around when the other team members were in a position to make HIM a support. Other teams cringe, as it appears we’re looking at another Dynasty in Chicago.
  3. The Lucrative Choice (New York/New Jersey). LeBron could have easily become the SECOND billion dollar sports figure (behind Tiger Woods, if Elian’s divorce settlement is any indication). (And again, LeBron’s going to make lots of money wherever he is. Just New York would throw his earnings into the stratosphere).
  4. The Easy Choice (Miami). Dwayne Wade and Chris Boch are already there, it’s possible to create an instant Dynasty. Not only that, but the girls are hotter.

As you can tell, every spot had their attractions (and detractions, which I decided not to list).

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Now, of course, a lot of people are dumping on LeBron. So much so that some people feel the need to come to his defense.

I won’t necessarily defend his move, as I dislike it (more below)…but not every criticism is worth listening to:

  1. “What Happened To Loyalty?” Well, in an age where corporations bail out on people and communities readily and Marriage is legally considered something to get into and out of relatively easily, the idea that someone who can move around should stick around merely because of the accident of birth or where he had to go to is more than wrongheaded.
  2. “He’s Taking The Easy Way Out.” Yes, I called his move “the easy move,” but it doesn’t make things for him any easier. Indeed, he upped the ante: While in the other cities he could have been considered great without winning rings, in Miami he now has to win Multiple Rings before he’s even considered in the running.
  3. “He’s No Longer A Leader.” Not necessarily. Remember that Dwayne Wade is running quickly onto the downward slope of his career. He obviously wants to earn a few more rings and maybe create a legacy of championship that go BEYOND him. And with LeBron as the future leader of the team, it’s possible that Wade could retire and watch his team win titles after said retirement. Remember, most teams reach a peak, then their leader retires and the team either enters the dropoff or continues down it. If successful, Wade can definitely say “I made a team that outlasted me.” Very heady, once you think of it.

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Thing is, I still hate the move. Here’s the reason:

Remember how, in Gym or Phys Ed, they always split people into teams by choosing sides? That’s because of what would happen if the players were to split themselves up as they wished: The best would join with each other and beat up the lesser “saps.”

And this is what we’re seeing here in Miami: Two hall-of-Famers and a third who should soon join that group have combined and reached out to the rest of the NBA, saying “Join us and grow rings on your fingers.” It would surprise me if there weren’t invites set up so as to insure that only “the deserving” are able to join in.

And just as there’s anti-collusion laws for the managers, owners and leaders (which, in the non-sports world, seem more and more moot), there are rules set up to prevent the best athletes from combining to their advantage.

And this move from LeBron James seems to go against those rules.

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Of course, it’s not the first time that players have gathered in Basketball for the sake of Owning Their Competition – and such actions seem doomed to failure.

I remember the Laker’s version of “Everyone Here For the Ring.” Four guys were supposed to be the ultimate lock on a title, and they limped their way to the finals only to be beaten by the Pistons, 4-1. I turned on at the beginning of the fourth quarter in game 5, saw some play, and wondered who kidnapped the Lakers and put a High-School team on the field.

There were a couple of other superteams that turned out to be anything but. The San Antonio Spurs tried it out once, their time would come when they finally built up a team in the late nineties that would last through the 2000-2010 decade. And Michigan had their fab five, who did well enough but never won a national title, big ten title, nor even could dominate their in-state rival (interesting tidbit: UofM’s record of the whole team against MSU: 2-2; UofM’s record when but one of the Fab Five was playing: 2-0. The difference being the team with the single Fab 5er acted like a team, whereas the Fab 5 were just five guys fighting over a ball).

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And finally: two people benefit from this, none of them being named Wade or LeBron.

The first, oddly enough, is Bosh. Simply enough, he was the one everyone was talking about playing with, so wherever he went the others would have gone.

Second, Kobe Bryant has his chance at eclipsing Jordan. Jordan just had fading Pistons and Lakers teams, then a bunch of wannabees who were just not good enough. Kobe has a group of players specifically put together to vanquish him. If he’s able to vanquish them in such a way that they never win a ring, he’ll have done something NOT EVEN JORDAN has done – defeated a team specifically set up to defeat him. Jordan steps down, the crown is handed to Kobe.

Things have just gotten interesting in the NBA…and we’re ignoring the rising Bulls. I predict that “King James” may come to regret not going to Chicago.