I was wrong. I believed the King of the NBA wouldn’t leave Cleveland. I believed the thought of playing near his hometown would overcome any thought of going elsewhere. In the end, Lebron James had a different agenda.
When Joe Tait, the legendary play by play announcer for the Cleveland Cavaliers for almost 40 years, turned out to be a prophet. In 2010, Tait told Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, “For the past 10 years, you’ve had the inmates running the asylum, now it appears some of them have decided to burn down the building.”
Tait went on to say “Unless the league gets a grip on what’s going on, they’re headed for monster trouble unless you enjoy a three- or four-team league.”
That is what the league has become. Parity is out the window. There isn’t enough talent to sustain the league as it stands right now. When was the last time Sacramento made the playoffs? Orlando? Dallas?? Sure these teams have had their time in the sun, but even the Phoenix Suns, one of the NBA’s premier franchises for years, hasn’t won a playoff game in decades!
This is the time of super teams. Make no mistake, the players control the league. That is not by accident. They have a strong union and take home more money than the owners. That is how the complicated salary cap exists. Because of that, the players can maneuver and move to certain locations in order to play with friends and family. But that’s only for a select few. The rest try and make do as they can.
That brings us to Lebron James. As great as he is, James is his own worst enemy. Of course the way he left Cleveland at first was repulsive. He was disrespectful to Pat Riley in leaving Miami to return to Cleveland. Let’s face it, he did bring a title to the championship-starved city of Cleveland, however he never completely “bought in”. James expected everyone else to. But from the very beginning it was “Do as I say, not as I do.” Lebron made the Cavs worry every off season as to his intentions. Would he stay or go? Lebron appears to love the drama.
Lebron has never brought in elite players anywhere he has been. I disregard Chris Bosh, because Dwayne Wade and Riley recruited him. Ray Allen was still a serviceable player, but didn’t come to Miami to play with James, but to win titles. Kyrie Irving was already in Cleveland when James returned, and grew tired of the James act. Kevin Love bought in, so did the Cavs organization, more than any team Lebron has been with. Year after year Cavaliers Owner Dan Gilbert went over the salary cap and paid the luxury tax because of it. Still, in the end, that wasn’t enough for Lebron.
Now he goes to a team with rich history, to play for a man that is the epitome of Lakers greatness in Magic Johnson. James couldn’t handle playing under Pat Riley in Miami, now he goes to maybe Riley’s greatest protege in Johnson. What will be the difference? Let’s face it, James may be the greatest player on the planet now, but will he be a great Laker?
We’ve already named Magic, but then there is the logo of the league in Jerry West. What about Wilt Chamberlain? Kareem Abdul Jabbar? Elgin Baylor, James Worthy, and then you have Kobe Bryant. Even Shaquille O’Neal won three straight titles before his falling out with Bryant. Take all that into consideration, you have nothing but failure on the horizon for Lebron.
One title isn’t good enough. Neither is two. They expect titles in bunches in Los Angeles, something Lebron has proven he isn’t capable of. And what talent does he have with the Lakers? Not as much as the Cavs do right now. Certainly the Lakers can improve the roster, but can they compete with the Warriors and Rockets in the West? Probably not.
Still, Lebron is now in Los Angeles. His legacy tarnished, championships be damned. Let the movie career begin.
Dave Mitchell co-hosts with Mark Donahue the UST talk show “Ohio Baseball Weekly,” highlighting the Cleveland Indians and Cincinnati Reds. The Show is at 9pm every Monday evening. He also provides play by play of High School and College sports. If you have a comment on this or any other article,email Dave at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @ohbbcohost or @ultsportstalk.