I’m not going to rip LeBron for his performance in this past playoff series with the Celtics. It was odd and disappointing, but everyone else seems to have covered that already. It’s clear though, that in studying LeBron over the past several weeks, he’s gone. I firmly believe he will not play for the Cleveland Cavaliers next season. I don’t know or really care where he’ll play–New York, Chicago, Miami–but I highly doubt it will be in his home state.
You see, it’s not about the money. By rule, Cleveland is the franchise that can offer him the biggest contract. It’s about LeBron, his ego and whatever legacy he’s trying to build. He said it. “Global Icon.” That’s James’ life goal. He’s more concerned about jet-setting with Jay-Z, establishing his ‘brand’ and looking cool than winning basketball games. Basketball is his conduit. And that’s fine. But the only problem with that, is for it to work, you have to win.
Jordan didn’t become the face of Nike until he won his championships. The reason why Jordan is regarded as the best is because he has six rings. All of the money and fame and life success comes with success on the court. With LeBron though, we anointed him the Chosen One since high school and he’s known nothing but fame, money and praise. LeBron hasn’t won shit in the NBA besides a couple MVP trophies.
Looking at LeBron James is like looking at the perfect physical specimen. He’s bigger and more athletic than most football players. His body and basic basketball skill set alone give him unlimited potential and the highest ceiling of any NBA player in the game. So why is he settling for pull-up jump shots? Why is he passing the ball to Delonte West? Why is he deferring to teammates in crunch time?
LeBron James is a fucking beast. He should be driving to the rim every possession and posterizing fools or getting to the free throw line on every time he touches the ball. Even if his coach is retarded and refuses to use a 1-4 set and let LeBron go to work, LeBron should just know to say ‘my team sucks, I’m taking over. Clear out.’ It’s quite frustrating.
I can’t put all the blame on LeBron. The sports media have fellated James since he first came on the scene in Akron. He’s been built up as an insane combination of Magic, Jordan and Dr. J. The expectations for him are insane. And they are built solely on his potential. No doubt, LeBron has had his moments, but mostly his career so far has just been a bunch of highlight dunks.
People say he needs a better coach. People say he needs a better supporting cast around him. How about we just point the finger right at LeBron. James’ biggest weakness is his shooting, yet he consistently settles for jump shots. I love the argument people make about Kobe and Jordan and how they say, “Well they weren’t great shooters either early in their career. They developed their shot once they lost a step athletically. LeBron will do the same.” OK, MAYBE. But here’s my thing, he’s been in the league for seven seasons (!) already and is the exact same offensive player as he was when he stepped on the court as a rookie. If he’s the basketball savior, why does he have to wait until he loses a step to develop a mid-range game, a few post moves or a consistent three point stroke?
If you didn’t watch game six of the Celtics series and just looked at the stats, you’d think LeBron had a great game and it must have been some other reason why they lost. Triple double? Nineteen rebounds? Sounds great. But I watched that game and at no point was LeBron in control. Honestly, I was more scarred of Mo Williams who was on fire in the first half. LeBron coasted. He can put up a triple-double in his sleep. There was one sequence where LeBron drained two back to back threes in the fourth. He showed us a glimpse of that potential. For a split second I said “Uh-oh.” But then the Celtics countered and the Cavs folded.
It comes down to effort and desire. All Kobe Bryant thinks about is winning basketball games. Michael Jordan is still probably the most competitive man on the planet. For these two players, who LeBron is always compared against, basketball is life. Hours in the gym, hours of film study, hours of dedication and determination. That’s what it takes to be the best. If LeBron wanted to actually be the player we all want him to be, he could. But clearly, that’s just not his agenda. His actions on and off the court speak louder than whatever prepared marketing statements James and his team feeds to the media.
So now that LeBron’s season is officially over, we wait on pins and needles until July 1. I can already tell this is going to be sports media hell. If the topic hasn’t been fucked out already by now, get ready. LeBron is the new Brett Favre, times a thousand. Nothing good will come of the endless speculation over the next month and a half. No matter how many times LeBron is asked about his future or how many inside reports from league sources ESPN reports on, we won’t know anything until LeBron signs his name on a contract and hold a press conference. But know this, basketball is probably the lowest motivating factor in his decision.