Lebron’s Championship Asterisk

Lebron isn’t being defined by what he has done or rather hasn’t done in the 4th quarter. He wasn’t given a blank sheet to start a new legacy when he uttered the now most overused phrase in sports. When Lebron James took his talents to South Beach his legacy became partially defined no matter how many championships he won.

The Chosen One has already given up his opportunity to be considered one of the best champions in NBA history. He gave it up when he decided that he needed help to be mentioned in the same breath as Michael Jordan and Bill Russell. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh can’t elevate him to that status. They’re the reason he can’t reach it.

If Lebron James ever does win a championship they should put an asterisk beside his name in the record books.

He doesn’t deserve to be given the full credit like other superstars have been given. He could win a few championships. He could win 10 championships but unless the other superstar and perennial all-star on his team vanish, then Lebron’s place among the true greats is cemented at least a notch lower.

Championships aren’t the measure of a man.

Related: NBA Playoffs – Where Legends Are Made

Lebron James doesn’t understand a lot of things. He didn’t understand how many people he had hurt leaving the only team he ever knew the way that he did. Lebron cannot comprehend that winning some championships won’t right all his wrongs. He didn’t understand that joining forces was the worst possible decision he could make.

It’s not just his now humpty dumpty public image that made the decision so poor. He has yet to realize that, given his talent level, taking the responsibility to win championships on his own back is the most important quality a superstar can have.

Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen. Scottie Pippen says Lebron James is better than Michael Jordan. Scottie Pippen has trouble seeing, you know, with his green eyes and all.

Scottie Pippen didn’t get as much press, maybe less than he deserved, but there’s a reason for that. He was a bonafide second fiddle, Michael Jordan’s second fiddle. Lebron James can also be a second fiddle in his own right, depending on the night.

A guy can’t be a second fiddle on a semi-regular basis and still be considered one of the all-time greats. It doesn’t work that way. He can be one of the great talents of all-time but not one of the all-time greats.

Lebron’s championship mentality was questioned when he first became “His Quitness” against the Boston Celtics in game 5 last season. James’ lack of a championship mentality became clear after the decision. It’s crystal clear now.

Where would Lebron James be without Chris Bosh averaging over 23 points a game against the Chicago Bulls or Dwyane Wade pouring in 28.4 a game in this year’s finals?

Related: Miami is Wade Country

The passiveness Lebron has been content to play with in these NBA Finals is consistent with his mentality. His passiveness told him to wave the white flag and decide that he wanted to take the easy way out. If Lebron James cared at all about his legacy, he should never have bothered to start singing “I get by with a little help from my friends.”

Lebron thinks he can prove the critics wrong by winning championships. However, each year that Lebron plays will be one more year that he didn’t win a championship, a real championship.

If Chris Paul, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire want to team up it won’t be the same. They aren’t going to be judged like Lebron James. They don’t have the Jordan comparisons flying at them from every angle. I don’t remember any of them proclaiming themselves to be the king or get “CHOSEN1” tattooed across their back. A championship for those guys wouldn’t have an asterisk. It would be legit.

I always thought that a King was a person who leads, not a person who follows. You would think that a chosen one wouldn’t give in so easily when the road gets a little bumpy.

Giving up his number wasn’t a gesture out of respect for Michael Jordan. It was Lebron trying to stop the comparisons but it ended up being a metaphor for his legacy. By going to Miami he gave up any chance he still had left at reaching his ultimate goal and his number went along with it. He tried to be Michael Jordan but fell short. So he gave it up.

No one will ever know what Lebron James was capable of. Who knows if he had 6 championships in him all by himself. Maybe he would have been the greatest of all-time. We can always speculate but it won’t give us the answer.

It’s why any and every championship that Lebron James ever wins should have an asterisk beside it. Like Barry Bonds, Mark Mcgwire and Sammy Sosa, we will never know what could have been.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Miami Heat Get the Easy Route

Maybe the road is as easy as they thought it would be

The big 3 took the low road to winning a championship. Public reaction to Lebron’s dreadful 1 hour decision special could have been mistaken for the King selling his soul to the devil for a championship.

The highway to hell looks pretty good right about now.

Prior to the beginning of the playoffs it was almost inconceivable that the Miami Heat could be staring at a title after two rounds without Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in their way. The Lakers were supposed to be the final obstacle but an inevitable meeting with the Boston Celtics meant that the team built to win 5 championships might not even get out of the second round.

Screw logic.

The Heat ousted a Celtic team that probably needed a M.A.S.H unit on site more than anything else. L.A. was swept in convincing fashion by a Maverick squad desperate to remove the dreaded choke label that has surrounded the Dirk Nowitzki era.

It wasn’t unimaginable in any sense to see the Heat overcome the Celtics. However, taking down a Boston team that has been able to turn their game on with the flip of a switch was undeniably impressive.

The Heat are now the favourites to win the 2011 NBA championship and there isn’t any reasonable logic that should suggest otherwise. Everyone knows their two biggest hurdles have been overcome, with a little help from the Dallas Mavericks.

Due to a bit of an Oprah mishap, the Heat and Bulls are forced to start their series a day earlier than expected at the United Centre on Sunday. Wait, the Chicago Bulls?

Oh yeah, the number 1 seed out of the Eastern conference.

My personal favourite writer, Jason Whitlock, recently wrote a column on FoxSports saying that the Heat are no match for the Bulls. It may be plausible but it sounds like Mr. Whitlock just wanted to turn some heads and add some extra page views for Fox’s website.

He says that “the popular narrative is the Bulls look terrible, particularly on offense, against an IQ-challenged Atlanta squad.”

Really? I think the story goes more along the lines of a number 1 seeded team struggling against a 37-win Pacer team absent of any serious firepower. The Bulls are a one man show. Carlos Boozer has been a sorry excuse for a sidekick and the absence of consistency on his part isn’t going to change under the bright lights of the Conference Finals.

The emotional high of overcoming the Celtics is nothing like the Jets advancing over New England contrary to what Whitlock attempts to point out. The Jets weren’t nearly as good a team in relative terms compared to the Heat. It’s as simple as that.

Related: Miami is Wade Country

Miami is clicking as a team and the fact that the wins came easier because of the dislocated elbow of Rondo and lack of a healthy Shaquille O’Neal shouldn’t overshadow the evidence right in front of us. More importantly, the Heat have now proved that they can win meaningful and challenging playoff games.

The popular narrative coming from the Heat players is that the 3 losses to the Bulls during the regular season don’t indicate anything. They’re saying that this is a different Heat team that we are seeing.

As much as I hate clichés, they’re exactly right. Despite the brutal play of supporting cast members like Bibby and Miller, the Heat have found a rotation that works. Starting Joel Anthony at centre instead of Big Z has injected some real life into the front court.

Rose has shot 42% from the field and a sad 25% from beyond the arc in the playoffs. If Derrick Rose is off for the Bulls it’s game over. That’s not the case for the Miami Heat.

The Heat have been blessed with a ridiculously straightforward path to a championship compared to what they could have faced. It was supposed to get harder, not easier.

It’s almost as if we are handing the Heat a championship on a silver platter. No one is doing that. Not yet. Winning a championship is never easy and I’m sure the Heat have learned that by now.

Any of the 4 other remaining teams in the playoffs can and most likely will give the Heat trouble. It’s just not the magnitude of trouble that we expected.

If the regular season has told us anything, it’s that we should have believed a lot of what we saw. There are no dominant teams and seeing last year’s NBA finalists knocked out of the second round clarified that.

Anyone would be a fool not to believe that the Miami Heat are the team to beat. Two pre-season favourites are gone and the Heat have suddenly transformed from the bunch who took the low road to the team with the easy road.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. Also, follow me on twitter @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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Lebron and sidekick will be dominant, but will it translate to a championship?

Fellow all-stars Lebron James and Chris Bosh could be playing together next season

This past weekend the New York Times reported that a team executive from one of the clubs going after Lebron James said the free agent to be is strongly leaning towards the Chicago Bulls, along with fellow USA teammate Chris Bosh. The source said that he gathered as much from discussions with his fellow NBA executives, saying, “I think it’s a done deal.” The source also stated that the other major teams attempting to lure Lebron and Co. are the Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets, New York Knicks, and the Los Angeles Clippers. Now we all know that Lebron James can carry a team to the top of the NBA standings and adding a guy like Chris Bosh to his team would make it that much more dominant. However, the question arises of whether bringing in Lebron and another max player will translate into an NBA championship.

If the New York Times report does indeed happen to be correct, and the Bulls are able to lure Lebron and Bosh to the windy city, they will be joining probably the best supporting cast, of the teams that have the cap space to acquire 2 max free agents. Of the 5 players that the Bulls have under contract next year, 4 of those guys are all productive players. The 4 include Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and Taj Gibson. Derrick Rose is turning into one of the elite point guards in the league and Joakim Noah has made a name for himself with his rebounding, hustle, and determination. Although Luol Deng has not lived up to the big contract he signed a couple of years ago, he did have a strong comeback season last year averaging 17.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. Taj Gibson, who plays the same position as Chris Bosh also had a solid rookie season and would be a very adequate backup.

I think that there is virtually no doubt that the Bulls, with Lebron and Bosh, would be a dominate regular season team. However, come playoff time, they are going to have some issues if they are unable to bring in the role palyers that would best complement their lineup. First off, as of right now the Bulls are missing a shooting guard/quality stand-still shooter. If you have Derrick Rose, Chris Bosh, Lebron James and Joakim Noah in your starting lineup, LBJ is the only “consistent” 3-point shooter (33%). The offensive end is seriously contracted with those 4 guys on the floor. If the Bulls cannot add a couple quality shooters it will be tough to call them legitimate contenders for the NBA Championship.

J.J. Redick is looking at a raise this offseason

For the Chicago Bulls, cash is going to be an issue for bringing in quality players, but there are a couple potential guys on the market that could fit nicely onto their roster. J.J. Reddick is a restricted free agent who proved that he can be a real solid bench player for the Orlando Magic this year, as he has expanded his game and improved his defence. Also, former USA National team player Mike Miller is an unrestricted free agent and could be what the Bulls need. Although Miller has stopped shooting the ball in recent years, he still shoots it at a high percentage, and maybe getting open looks from a star-studded Bulls cast could change that. Nate Robinson could also be an option as a guy coming off the bench. Robinson showed that he can keep his mouth shut and put the team above his own needs while he was in Boston. Let’s not forget the aging Anthony Parker who is a smart veteran that knows his role and will not be seeking a whole lot of money.

It should be noted that Luol Deng has shot the 3 ball at around 38% the past three years, but only took 1.2 three-pointers a game last season, which was the most in his career.

The thing is, it is hard enough to find good role players for your team under normal circumstances. But when you are hoping to sign top flight free agents the salary cap becomes even more of an issue. It is going to be a big problem for these teams that have shed so much salary specifically for the 2010 free agent class because they have virtually no one on their rosters. The Chicago Bulls currently seem to be the best equipped of the teams in contention for Lebron and friends.

Right now, the Knicks have Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, as well as the developing Toney Douglas and Bill Walker. They also have Eddy Curry, but he is just most likely going to sit on the bench and count his millions. New York is not looking like the most viable option for any top tier free agent.

The Miami Heat, assuming Wade comes back, have only 3 guys on their roster after waiving James Jones today. The other two would be Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. Again, like other teams in their situation, they are looking to find a number of quality bench/role players.

People like to talk about the weakness of Lebron James’ supporting cast in Cleveland, but when you look those guys compared to these other teams, was it really that bad? The Cavs had Mo Williams who is a very good shooter from the outside and although he isn’t a playmaking point guard you have to wonder if Lebron would work well with a point guard who dominates the ball and can’t shoot from the outside at a high percentage. Anderson Varejao and Joakim Noah are very similar players. It is obvious that Antawn Jamison underachieved but he has been a 20-10 guy throughout his career. Moreover, you add on Delonte West and J.J. Hickson, and suddenly you think that maybe these teams aren’t much better off than the Cavs.

Don’t get me wrong, adding an all-star power forward will make a world of difference for Lebron James, but in the end you need the proper role players to get the job done. It also has to be said that having Bosh or Stoudemire as a sidekick is not a very solid intimidating presence in the paint for opposing big men. Bosh isn’t strong enough to be a true force inside and Stoudemire doesn’t seem to care on the boards sometimes. That’s why the situation in Chicago would be great because Joakim Noah can be that force in the inside even though he is more of a power forward.

Brook Lopez is turning into one of the best center\'s in the NBA

One team that isn’t talked about nearly as much as the Knicks, Heat, and Bulls, are the lowly New Jersey Nets. In terms of supporting cast, the Nets are arguably in the second best position among the teams involved in the Lebron sweepstakes. New Jersey currently has 8 guys under contract and soon to be 9 with Derrick Favours coming to town. As we have seen with the LA Lakers the past two years, having a big team makes a big difference. If Derrick Favours can live up to his potential, he would give the Nets a two headed monster up front along with Brook Lopez. You also have an all-star calibre point guard in Devin Harris, who is looking to rebound after a poor injury plagued season. Then add to the mix good role players in Courtney Lee and sophmore Terrence Williams. All of the sudden you’re looking at an upper echelon team if you can acquire Lebron James. However unlike Chicago or Miami, the sidekick needed here would not be Chris Bosh or Amare, rather someone like Joe Johnson would probably be the best fit if Lebron were to flock to New Jersey considering they would already have two starting big men. It was also reported today that Yi JianLian has been traded to the Wizards for Quinton Ross and cash, which leaves even more cap room for the New Jersey Nets.

It looks as though Lebron James is going to leave Cleveland and bring a sidekick with him wherever he goes. There is no denying that a team with Lebron James is immediately a playoff team, but without the right pieces it will not be a championship team.

Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments, suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at cross_can15@hotmail.com. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.

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