Sunday, July 11, 2010

Tom Lea's Soul Crushed By LeBron James

I would react to the LeBacle myself. But Tom Lea, a LeBron fanatic, said it better than I could. So here is his quick-hit reaction from the other night. Enjoy. -AJ

(Quick note: This puppy is about 2,000 words long. I just thought I'd warn you ahead of time.)

I'm not going to beat around the bush. I am upset.

But before I proceed, I want to make sure everyone that has any interest in reading my humble opinion doesn't take me being upset as me being irrational in the heat of the moment, or even something as harsh as being pissed off. Because it's simply not the case. In fact, upset really isn't the word I'm looking for. It's something in between being upset and disappointed. In essence, I feel like I was played for the past seven years.

I know I have no ties to LeBron and I probably never will (as much as I hate to say it). I know I am not one of his friends, his boys, his mentors or anything of that sort and I know all of you already know that I am nothing but a simple fan of his. So when I say I feel played, I say it knowing full-heartedly that nothing in my life is going to change because of his decision. Nothing he did is going to have any direct effect on my life other than the fact that I'll be watching a lot of Heat games in the coming years.

I am cognizant that there is a fine line between being a rational fan and one that gets carried away during major events (a devastating loss, bad coaching move, or in this case, a earth shattering free agent move), so I'm trying to offer a couple of thoughts that stem just from my fandom.

I don't want this to become a shouting match or anything along those lines. I just know my phone has been blowing up over the past hour and instead of texting everyone the same thing over and over, I am just going to type up my thoughts on this. Besides, it's much easier this way.

So here I go....

By packing up the bags and leaving Akron/Cleveland for the lovely beaches of Miami, I have learned a couple of things about my favorite player. And it's these things that have led me to be a bit disappointed. Since I don't feel like writing a book on the subject and knowing there are a million directions I could take this monologue, I'm going to limit my rant to just a couple of things that really hit me hard when he made the decision. Even though the fact that he's going to be in a different uniform, with different colors and a different surrounding hasn't really set in yet.

First of all, and I go back to my use of the word played, for the seven years LBJ has been in the league I have thought he was a man on the brink of accomplishing something special. He led an absolutely horrid team (the 2007 Cavs) to an NBA Finals appearance as really the only player worth a damn on the roster. Without him, that team probably doesn't make the playoffs and if it does, it leaves in the first round.

When I think back to that game in Detroit (Game 5) during the Eastern Conference Finals, I think of a 22 year old kid dominating NBA veterans to the tune of 27 of his teams final 28 points. And I remember him elevating his game to Jordan-esque levels and seeing his competitive nature wreak havoc on a stunned-and favored-Pistons team. That game, eventually a double-overtime win, was one of the more transcendent performances I can ever remember seeing. He was remarkable. He literally willed his team to victory (excuse the cliche).

And from that performance I thought I witnessed a sense of ability, a sense of entitlement and a sense of competitive nature being born. I thought LeBron developed the mindset that some of the NBA greats had. I thought he finally got that super-competitive drive that made him feel like he was destined to revive a city that hasn't seen any sort of champion in 50 years. I thought he wanted to be that guy. I thought he would do whatever it takes to deliver his hometown the glory that has been escaping it for decades. I thought he was up to that challenge.

That's why I always thought he would stay in Cleveland. That's why up to five minutes before the show tonight I said he would remain there. And that's why my heart sank a little bit when the word Miami slipped out of his mouth on national television. I realized that he didn't have what it takes to deliver a title by himself and the reality sank in that he needed the help of a couple of all-world players in order to accomplish something I (admittedly selfishly) wanted to see him do as the lead character.

I know that team will be good with those three running the ship. But I also know that in order to win, and to win at the highest level in the NBA, you need a full squad of five guys, plus about three or four more role players that give you things off the bench. For all the hype Kobe, Gasol and Odom get, they have guys like Fisher, Bynum and Artest doing work at their side.

For all the hype KG, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce get, that Celtics team—the one that held a 13 point second half lead over those same Lakers in game 7— would have never been in the series if it wasn't for the play of Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Glen Davis, Nate Robinson, Tony Allen and Brian Scalabrine (I shouldn't have brought him into it, haha).

Who are going to be the nine guys that the Heat get at minimum contracts to support those three guys?

That's what worries me about it.

They say you can see a train wreck coming a mile away. Well, I see a train wreck headed for South Beach and it's about a year away. I just don't see it working. Five guys comprise a team, and for as great as Bosh, Wade and James are, they also have Mario Chalmers and Dexter Pittman filling out their starting five. Who? I know.....

During the show, LeBron made the point that nobody knew of the Rondo's, Perkins and Davis' of the world when the Celtics started their big three. And that eventually the big three helped mold those role players into what they are today and what they were in June. But they also weren't minimum contract guys that they had to bring in during the midst of the summer like the Heat are going to have to do.

Who is going to want to take those contracts, for the minimum, one year before a probable lockout? People need to get paid. I know that's not what it's all about, but for guys that are seeing their careers wind down, it might very well be. So it's going to be hard to win a title right away without the necessary parts in Miami.

At least in Boston, or LA for that matter, the parts of a team were in place. The parts to this team revolve around three players. And if one of them goes down (Wade) or they don't function as well as they historically have, things aren't going to go over well just because the pressure and expectations are going to be that high. It's championship or bust in South Beach.

Which leads me to my next point.

Probably more than anything else, I am saddened that all three of these players are going to have to switch their style of play for this marriage to work.

The thing I liked about James as a Cav was the fact that he had the ability to go off on any given night. He had the ability to do something truly incredible every time he stepped foot on the court. I suppose he still has that chance but it's not going to be as exaggerated as it once was.

Now, with those other two guys, he's going to sacrifice some of the things that made me absolutely love him. He's unselfish so it probably won't be that big of a deal, but I'm selfish and it's going to be hard to see his points per game dip to 21 or 22 a night instead of 30. He's an exciting player, probably the most exciting in the league, and now he's going to be tamed down offensively. As a fan, I feel like I am kind of being cheated out of his potential.

The same can be said about Wade. The way he recklessly does things on the court, the way he fills up the score cards, the way he scores the ball can all be thrown out because he's going to make sure everyone is involved. Essentially, we're putting a cap on all of the abilities these three players have showcased over the past seven years. And as a true basketball fan and a lover of the game, this makes me very sad. I understand these three can do special things together, but it will come at the expense of one of them, individually, doing something that will make my jaw drop, call my friends frantically, or relish the fact that I truly saw something amazing.

I know it's all conjecture at this point because we haven't seen this thing put into motion yet. But in a purely speculative manner, I am nervous that we are handicapping the potential greatness that all three of these players have in them. We are no longer going to see the same players—Lebron as a Cav, Bosh as a Raptor and Wade as a Heat? (not sure how that works)—instead, we will see a group of guys that are scared to take over the team at the expense of everyone else and at the expense of fearing failure.

That, in essence, is why I am somewhere between upset and disappointed in regards to tonight's developments. I don't feel as though I am being irrational and I surely don't want anyone thinking I suddenly switched over to a LeBron hater. I haven't. I still really, really like him and I am excited (albeit reserved) about his future.

In the end, the fact that he's going to be viewed as a villain by many makes me turn sour. He said it's a business move and I can understand that. I just think there were better options. Go to Chicago if it's truly about winning. Stay in Cleveland if it was truly about loyalty. Go to Miami if you feel it's your best shot at winning a title or multiple titles. So for that, I don't blame him.

I just wish he had been able to accomplish some of the things I know he is capable of as the main guy, the main attraction. I just don't like that he admitted his failure by bolting for the 'on paper' potential of a team of superstars. And I really don't like the fact that he is going to have to change his game to make this work.

I really want LeBron to succeed and I hope all the best is still ahead for him. I know this had to have been taxing for him and that it's a major weight off his shoulders. I just hope he isn't tainted by this as a player, although I fear he will be.

(Sorry for the length of this and for the weak ending. I am gassed and I wasn't really sure how to wrap this thing up. Thanks for reading.)


No comments:

Post a Comment