If you haven’t heard, LeBron James is no longer a Cavalier. He jumped ship and went to South Beach to be on the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, forming the new “Big Three”. But this Big Three wasn’t formed in the same way that the former Big Three was by the Celtics (Garnett, Pierce, and Ray Allen). No trades were made. No huge sacrifices made by the Heat, aside from being well over the salary cap. They just got commitments from LBJ and Bosh via free agency.
So who came out winning and who came out losing?
Major loser. They lost on so many levels. From the organization to the fan base. The organization itself made a lot of sacrifices in order to get LeBron a chance at winning a NBA title. Lotsa trades, new signings, kissing his butt endlessly. All of that resulted in no real gain aside from the fact that all their work was wasted and the person that they catered to is now gone. The fans also got slapped in the face. Cleveland fans worshipped the “King” these past seven years. They supported him a lot. Then he goes. I think that they would have been more understanding if he had went to the finals several consecutive years and failed, then wanted to be traded to try to win one. Or if it was later in his career. But he still hasn’t reached either stage. Why support a guy that doesn’t keep trying to help your team? Why support a guy that you’ve been loyal to but not vice versa?
Major winner. This is pretty obvious. You now have arguably the best player in the league right now, one of the better big men in the league in Bosh, and one of the better offensive players in the league in Wade. They have hope of winning another title since the days of Shaq and Wade. The only losing part here is that everyone that follows the NBA now hates the Heat, but they don’t care. They care as much about everyone else’s opinion about their NBA team as they did when they were voting between Gore and Bush in 2000. Remember those hanging chads, Miami residents?
Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh
Winners (for now). This one is fairly self-explanatory as well. I guess there is some kind of strong relationship between Dwayne Wade, Bosh, and LeBron. It’s borderline bromance between them. But this does give them a legit shot of winning a title (or another one, as in Wade’s case). The question is how do you integrate all three players into an offense that will work? Wade needs the ball. So does LeBron. Bosh can just rebound all the outside shots that they miss and try to put them back in. How this chemistry will work has yet to be seen.
The U.S. national team doesn’t really shed any light, however, as that team was very much different than this Miami team. A lot of leaders, a different coaching staff (an extremely solid one for that matter), and a different focus and motivation after the past failings.
Minor losers. Two have two big stars leave cities where they were the face of the team that they were on is bad. The market for the NBA in that city drops because there is less support for that team. The fan morale drops as well. Losing LBJ for the Cavs basically dropped them out of the top four and probably into the bottom five teams in the league, which as a result means the following for the NBA there will crap out a bit.
But you want teams where their arenas are sold out and people come to games. By having all stars on one team, it really hurts the rest of the market, as it’ll result in empty seats for other teams. Keeping stars spread out over various teams creates buzz in other cities, not just the major ones. It keeps rivalries strong, and not one-sided. This move doesn’t help them out one bit.
Minor winner, major loser. I’m going to be frank here and just say that. The way that he went about this was pretty bad. Making everyone wait, putting all the attention on him like that, having an interview to force people to have to watch to see where he was going created a lot of publicity for him. But in the process, it wasn’t really that positive. Instead, we get an image of a guy that just wants attention. Not a humble, NBA title focused player.
The other thing is that it really damaged his legacy as a player. If he wanted to be compared to the legend that is Michael Jordan, he should have stayed. By leaving to join two other major stars, he won’t compare to that of MJ. Remember how MJ got his six titles. He did it without the need of any big stars. No Clyde Drexeler, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajawaan, or other people like that. He worked with a bunch of support players and got there. LBJ definitely had the talent to do so as well, as well as the personnel. But in the process, he chose the easy way out. Now people will assume that the only way that he can win a title is by being on the same team as other big name stars and not by himself. That right there is the key concept. We’ll now never know whether or not he could have done it by himself. He came close, but never got there. He had the potential to do so this year, but he crashed and burned.
The only thing that really came out of this for him is now he has a shot at winning a NBA title. Like I stated earlier, if he was reaching the end of his career and bolted, it might have been more understandable because it’s still hard. But still questions his legacy as to whether or not he’s up there as the best player of all time.
In the end, the game of basketball, as a whole, lost. Who was assumed as the best player in the league jumped ship and basically makes the claim that he can’t do it by himself and needs big time help in order to win a title. The publicity and energy created for the game of basketball wasn’t positive at all. Heck, the free agent signing period that’s been going on hasn’t really created any waves. It’s just more of a circus with players switching teams here and there, with this being the big act. Who’s to blame for all this? Stern? The NBA rules for signing players? The league as a whole? The Cavs? Probably a combination of all these things.
Maybe it’s a good time to jump ship from the NBA and follow something that’s more interesting, less of a circus, and worthwhile… European soccer anyone?