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LeBron to Miami: A Team-First Tale

July 22, 2010 1 comment

LeBron risked all the grief in the world for this.

Another day, another guest blogger. Today, we present to you, the one and only, Chazzerific. A maverick of the sporting world, Chazzerific’s first post will give you a new take (YES, a new one!!) on the LeBron James free agency fiasco. He will be helping out, from time to time, in the sports section to keep our voice fresh and sharp. So, without further explanation…

Since LeBron James announced his decision to “take his talents” to South Beach, to team up with Dwayne Wade and the newly acquired Chris Bosh, he’s been called a disappointment, selfish, even cowardly. Critics say the King shied away from his chance to be “the man;”  that he gave up his chance to be considered among the greatest players of all time and failed to fulfill his destiny as the second coming of Michael Jordan. At first, I pretty much agreed with these assessments. Then I realized something. LeBron isn’t Michael. There are similarities for sure: in Cleveland he wore number 23 and he can jump out of the gym just like Mike. However, according to NBA scouts, what really set LeBron apart, even in high school, was his playmaking ability, his on-court vision, passing and unselfish play. In contrast, Michael was a scorer. He is the only player to lead the NBA in scoring during a Championship season and he did it six times. The more I think about it, the more I realize that his move to Miami represents an old school, team-first basketball attitude in a new school, big market NBA. The clash between those two worlds has made LeBron one of the most polarizing figures in sports and overall it has given him a bad rap.

No player, even the players we all know on a first name basis – Michael, Kobe, Larry, Magic, and so on – has ever won an NBA Championship by himself. They were all surrounded by talented teammates. In fact, they all had at least one teammate that, like them, that can be identified by a single name. Michael had Scottie. Kobe had Shaq and then Pau. Larry and Magic were lucky enough to have a couple guys each. Larry had Ainge and McHale. Magic had Kareem and Worthy; you’ve heard of them right? In signing with the Heat, LeBron has succeeded in doing for himself what the Cavs, despite their best efforts, failed to do for him. He surrounded himself with great teammates; a group of players that will highlight his strengths as a passer and a play maker and emphasize team-first basketball.

I know what you’re thinking… if LeBron is such a team-first guy, why in the world did he keep the spotlight so singularly on himself during his free agency? I am not about to try and defend the spectacle that was “The Decision.” As mentioned in a previous Fodder posting, everything about that press conference – from the day-long build up on ESPN to the location from which it was broadcast – was a microcosm of everything that is wrong in professional sports today. So you will not find a defense of “The Decision” here.

The new "Showtime?"

But I digress… critics say that LeBron’s move to Miami is selfish, I would argue the exact opposite. Other teams offered him the Sun and the Moon, but he took less money in order to play for the Heat. Wade and Bosh have done the same. It brings to mind something Bill Russell said in a conversation with KG during the Celtics 2008 Championship run: “You may have to put your arms around a couple guys and take them with you, but you can’t drag them. You’ve got to put your arms around them and take them with you.” A look at the Miami’s revamped roster shows that LeBron, Dwayne and Chris won’t have to drag anyone with them. The team-first, self-second attitude has become contagious. The new additions did cost them some young talent, namely Michael Beasley, who was sent to Toronto as part of the Chris Bosh sign and trade. On the flip-side, however, Miami has been able to retain the services of some young talent in both Mario Chalmers and Udonis Haslem. Haslem, in particular, will provide a hard-nosed defender and another big body down low during particularly physical contests. While talks with NBA Finals regular Derek Fisher fell through, Miami found veteran role players from other places in the form of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Juwan Howard and Mike Miller; all of whom have played at least 10 seasons in the NBA. Alongside D Wayde, LeBron and Chris Bosh, these salty vets will play a key role in helping to mold rookies Dexter Pittman, Da’Sean Butler and Jarvis Varnado.

Critics say that by joining the Heat, “King” James will never be anything more than a “Prince” in the court of His Majesty Dwayne Wade; is that really such a bad thing though? Magic orchestrated Showtime by distributing more often than scoring yet he is still considered among the greats. Isn’t Lebron capable of similar feats? It’s true that LeBron probably won’t score as many points while playing with two other top ten NBA superstars, but they will play extremely entertaining basketball. Aggressive defense will lead to a fast and loose type of offense with James and Wade exchanging high altitude finishes. In teaming up with D-Wade and Chris Bosh, LeBron may not be “the man” but he will undoubtedly be one of “the men” on what might prove to be one of the most talented teams the NBA has seen in recent memory.  Even if you put all that aside, let’s face it, the guy gets to do something we should all be fortunate enough to do at some point in our lives… work with his best friends. I mean c’mon, who are you kidding? You would jump at the chance to get paid to hang out with best friends at work all day, especially if it meant you might get to win an NBA Championship (or several) and you know it.