Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Rise and soon-to-be fall of LeBron James

LeBron James entered the NBA with the whole basketball world paying attention. He signed a Nike contract before he played a single minute. He was (and unfortunately still is) revered by the championship starved city of Cleveland and his home town of Akron. Was LeBron James worth the hype? Yes definitely. Being in India there's not a lot of basketball you get to see, but I was fortunate to watch LeBron destroy the Pistons single handedly in 2007. Since then I have been a massive LeBron fan. But that ended in Game 5 of the series between Cleveland and Boston. Fame, money and the reverence people have for him have collectively gone to his head. He is no longer a basketball player but a businessman. But who is to blame ??

First LeBron himself at some level should be blamed. He let people close to him and the fame go to his head and now he seems to have something to prove through this free agency. I have watched Kobe Bryant a lot and have always found him to be a player who tries to do too much on his own and for that I am not a big fan of his. But there is a man who will never quit on a time no matter the situation or the scoreline, and that is something that earns respect. In game 5 LeBron stopped playing. Period. He can give a variety of excuses but he simply quit on a team that had a good chance of making it. Where he would usually pick up a rebound and tear down the court, he would slow the pace and hand it to Williams or West. Where he would normally crash the boards looking for every loose ball, he left it to his big man. Where he would drive to the hoop looking for the foul, he settled for a series of bad shots which he knew he was missing all night. Yes, coack Mike Brown has always been shaky when it comes to offense. But this loss happened solely because LeBron refused to show up. An off day can be forgiven, but lack of effort must not.

However, I will not pin the blame entirely on LeBron. The Cavaliers franchise and the NBA as a whole has had a role in this transformation of LeBron as well. The Knocks should have been disciplined for their shameless obsession with LeBron. Explain this to me, Mark Cuban jokes about how he'd sign LeBron in a jiffy and gets fined, but the Knicks play out 2 years of rubbish in the hopes of landing LeBron and get away with it? What in the world does the commissioner Stern think he's doing? In an effort to combat this the Cavaliers management and the fans were forced catered to his every whim and fancy. In the fear of losing their franchise player, the management indulged him where they should have disciplined him and reminded him he represented their franchise till 2010. Ability isn't enough to win Championships and the franchise should have taught their star this lesson. They did not.

Yes the city of Cleveland is desperate for a championship. But the way LeBron quit on the Cavaliers during game 5, fans can be rest assured a championship is not coming their way anytime soon. Not with that attitude. The Magic 3-0 down in the conference finals, refused to go down without a fight, and tried to comeback into it. LeBron was ahead, yet gave up. What does that say about his attitude? Championships are not guaranteed. Every other day I hear some NBA commentator/expert say that LeBron is too talented to go without a championship. Karl Malone and John Stockton were an incredible duo. How many championships? NIL. Few years ago, Gilbert Arenas was the talk of the NBA. Today, he'll be lucky if a team picks him to play. Vince Carter folded in the playoffs despite at one point of time being a much talked about player. This list can go on and on. No one is guaranteed a championship. LeBron must learn that lesson. He had a better chance this year than he will ever have.

To the Clevelanders, I have never been to Cleveland yet over the last few years I have grown a soft spot for your desperation for a title. But in that desperation I urge you not to overlook the fact that Cleveland has no apparent meaning to your star. All he cares about are himself, his close "associates", his family and more than anything his money. If he does leave, do not feel upset or betrayed. Instead, rejoice hat you have gotten rid of a man who has no heart and no desire other than being rich and famous. Rebuilding will probably be hard should LeBron leave, but it will be better than watching LeBron quit the way he did.
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