“Kobe never won a championship without ____ (insert Pau or Shaq here)…” Those are usually the first words out of any LeBron James fan’s mouth. Kobe never won without…
Fast forward to the 2010-2011 NBA season… A season in which LeBron James will be suiting up for the Cleve… err… excuse me…. the Miami Heat. A team that has been formed around the core, Dwayne Wade and the other big addition Chris Bosh. A team that Jeff Van Gundy says will not only rival the Bulls record 72 wins, but easily surpass it.
While I personally think that Jeff Van Gundy is just over-excited and a little hyped over the superteam, I don’t think they will even come close. If I had a prediction, I’d guess the Heat will win 55-60 games this season. And they will NOT win the title this season. In fact, I don’t feel they are even in the top 3 in the East this season.
LeBron James may very well be one of the most talented basketball players on the planet, but he is no longer in the discussion of those being one of the greatest ever. Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson… They would have never tried to team up to win a ring. Charles Barkley can shut up, because he did just that in Houston with Hakeem Olajuwon & Scottie Pippen. They just couldn’t get the job done. Much like this Heat team.
Let’s be honest here. The Heat, surprisingly have been able to fill out their roster with some ok players, but when you look at the Magic, the Celtics and now the Chicago Bulls whom all have not only kept their core but added to it with a lot of depth, I just find it hard to realistically see the Heat getting past any of those teams.
But what about LeBron? Why LeBron Who? Because he is now part of a nucleus. It’s not LeBron’s Heat. Nor Bosh’s Heat. If anything, it is Dwayne Wade’s Heat. And much like when Alex Rodriguez came to the New York Yankees, to Derek Jeter’s team, he no longer was the top dog. Sure he might be the most marketable or highly paid, but no longer is A-Rod on “his” team. And LeBron is now no longer on “his” team. He is on Wade’s team. James is no longer the focal point. He isn’t the go to guy. He is just a really talented player that is playing on someone else’s team.
In LA, you know its Kobe’s team. In Chicago, it’s Derrick Rose’s team. While there is NOTHING wrong with taking the role he did, taking less money to team up with great players, there are however consequences. The biggest consequence is that he is no longer the man. He is part of a team. That’s great for Miami, just really bad for his personal image. He can’t be a King in someone else’s kingdom. And if LeBron and the Heat win, it will always be that he had to leave Cleveland and join up with Wade & Bosh to win a title. It will be that he could never do it on his own in Cleveland. It will be that LeBron James couldn’t handle that challenge.
Before I get the ton of emails and tweets… Those saying Dan Gilbert is a terrible owner and LeBron left because of him. Note this… Michael Jordan played for years under a general manager named Jerry Krause, whom he couldn’t stand to be around. Not all front offices are ideal. Yes, there are greener pastures. But some athletes live up to that challenge for those that are important (the fans), and some run from it and take the easy road. The greats, they always take that challenge. Unless you all forget that Bill Russell played in a very racist time in Boston & Hank Aaron hit home runs in a racist deep south Atlanta. Some athletes have gone through much much much worse than the “King” LeBron James, they just had the heart to make their mark and break down any and ALL boundaries to get there. No one could stop them. LeBron is not one of those athletes any longer… he is just a member of the Miami Heat. He wears number 6 in case you can’t find him.