Thursday, July 8, 2010

the king leaves the city.

I'm on vacation and won't be posting anything, but, of course, I had to get out to the bars to see the LeBron decision. And I was kicking myself from the get-go for doing so. But here's a little reaction piece I wrote for the Alibi upon viewing.

So. LeBron James is going to join the Miami Heat. He's going to join Dwyane Wade's team. The team that Chris Bosh has already joined. He's going to join Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley, whom everyone in the NBA knows the Miami Heat are actively shopping, in an effort to pay their two new superstars (and their old one) as much money as possible. And this, they all think will be enough to win them not only a championship next NBA season, but the championships for the next couple of years.

Let's start with disagreement. Obviously, James, Wade and Bosh are all great players. All-Stars if not superstars, these are the guys who make the records and then break their own records. That being said, if three players take up the majority of a team's salary, who else is going to play with them? Ask Kobe, he played a few years with Smush Parker - it isn't fun, and you (and your team) don't get far. So they're going to be looking for guys who will take a little money, in anticipation of winning a ring with one of the most star-studded rosters of all time. That's definitely good. Every team needs role players. But role players are not just the minimum-salary guys. They're not Mario Chalmers, who might have hit a miracle at the buzzer to send Kansas to the overtime that they won in the NCAA Tournament Championship game, but hasn't amounted to much in the NBA. They're not guys like Mike Miller, who's been rumored to be heading to the Heat. (At this point, the Heat can't possibly pay him that much money, can they?) If the Heat can surround Bosh, James, and Wade with quality, or ever nominal, role-players, they've got to be the favorite to come out of the Eastern Conference. But if they can't there are teams that have already proved they're more than willing to take that crown.

As a sidenote to the basketball negativity, Sports Ilustrated has a great report on what this story meant to ESPN and its advancement of cronyism, nepotism, or any other inside-job -ism you want to label this story. In addition, Dan Gilbert, the majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers posted an incendiary takedown of LeBron James less than two and a half hours after the decision. The media ramifications of one man's decision to sign with another team in NBA Free Agency are remarkably long-reaching.

The positives can be summarized thusly: The Miami Heat will be a hugely entertaining team to watch for the first few weeks of the 2010-2011 NBA season. Also, it will be absolutely amazing to see what they do in the playoffs, which they're virtually assured of making. Lastly, it seems as though Dwyane Wade, who's actually the only one in the bunch who's already won a championship has solidified his alpha-dog status by bringing two other stars to his team.

LeBron James may have commanded the attention of a nation last night with his ESPN commercial, but he will command a different kind of attention all NBA season next year. He will learn what it's like to have a target on his back much, much larger than the one he wore as the King of Cleveland, as the Chosen One of Nike. It will be endlessly amazing to see how he (and Wade and Bosh) handle that pressure.

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Let me add below this official newspaper style that, if these guys sign for something ridiculously under the near-max deals they could get, and bring in other quality players by sacrificing their own money, I'll root for them hard. But I'll be damned if I honestly think that's going to happen. Secondly, if Chris Paul jets to Miami next year, I'm gonna be twice as pissed. Lastly, Joey wrote a lot of these same-ish things last night before it was even official.

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