I wonder if LeBron James became more motivated to play with the Los Angeles Clippers after overcoming their 42 free throws and 21 offensive rebounds in the Miami Heat’s 116-112 road win Wednesday night.
Oh, have you not heard, yet? The Cleveland Cavaliers have been playing poorly lately, so it no longer makes as much sense for the LeBron-to-Cleveland talks to exist.
Think that narrative is going to die? Of course not. What’s an NBA season involving LeBron James without inane, pointless speculation that relies purely on hypothetical situations that may not even play out?
It doesn’t make much sense for LeBron want to go back to that Cavs team after the turmoil they’ve been through. The Los Angeles Clippers, however, have a star player who is friendly with LeBron, and an overall good team, making them next in line to be James’ potential suitors.
Chances are if the New York Knicks were any good, they would replace the Los Angeles Clippers. The same goes for the Chicago Bulls or Los Angeles Lakers. If either of those teams are anything near a contender that just needs that extra boost, such as LeBron James signing with them over the summer, then they’re obviously a destination for the four-time MVP.
Because that’s just the type of player LeBron James supposedly is. If we were to read these speculative pieces and take them seriously, we’d assume James was a leech, sucking the life blood out of franchises for their vitality and then moving on when there’s nothing left to live off of.
LeBron is being portrayed as a heartless commodity that’s going to hop from team-to-team in hopes of winning a title, as if he were Shaquille O’Neal in the final years of his career, uncommitted to any team and on a laughable quest for another ring.
I get that he wants to win. He’s the best player in the world because of how badly he wants to win. But to assume LeBron is just going to ride the Heat until the going gets tough is blatant disrespect to someone who stuck it out and committed for seven years in Cleveland and then a horrific first year in Miami.
If it was up to the speculators, however, the two titles LeBron has won with the Heat hasn’t been enough. The two Hall-of-Fame-bound teammates? Not enough. Dwyane Wade averaging 19-5-5? Not enough. Pat Riley having free reign when everybody’s contract come off the books this summer? Still not enough.
I’m not sure what to be more insulted by. Those speculating that LeBron’s going to leave because Dwyane Wade has missed a few games? Or those who trust names like Doc Rivers and Donald Sterling over Pat Riley and Mickey Arison.
Both ideas border on the absurd. Wade’s missed at least 13 regular season games in each of the past two championship runs, and nobody is more capable of targeting a free agent and having them sign for a reduced cost than Riley and the good people of the Heat front office.
But maybe I should stop there concerning any talk regarding the summer. Because even though there have been multiple articles springing up over the past day regarding LeBron’s free agent period, there is also absolutely no possible way to even begin predicting what James is going to do.
Why? Because LeBron doesn’t even know what he’s going to do. So why bother with the speculation that will solve nothing?
Mainly because it’s the dog-days of the season and we need a narrative. What it’s leading to, however, is James being characterized as someone, or something, he is not. He simply doesn’t come across to me as the type of person who would create this type of connection with a city, have sustained success, and then depart once things began to look a little questionable.
The Heat have been in questionable spots before. LeBron has stepped up to the occasion each and every time.
But to believe LeBron has established no personal connection with the city, the fans and the teammates he’s gone to war with over the past four years? Seems unlikely. It would be awfully revealing of LeBron to wish guys like Dwyane, Chris, Erik Spoelstra, Udonis and Pat Riley the best as he takes his talents elsewhere.
LeBron wasn’t that type of person in Cleveland. You know what made LeBron leave that franchise? Incompetence and successfully seeing before all of us how incompetent that Cavaliers franchise was.
I’ve yet to witness any sort of that incompetence in Miami, nor will we see it anytime soon. Nobody can build a roster like Riley and the Heat. Not even a Clippers team that pulled off some high-profile moves with recent midseason signings of Hedo Turkoglu and Sasha Vujacic.
In a similar situation last year, Riley picked up Chris Andersen. Yeah, it’s not as close as many would assume. Oh, he’s also picked up Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Greg Oden, Michael Beasley and Shane Battier since the summer of 2011, but that’s insignificant since LeBron’s tunnel vision only allows him to see what team has the best chance of winning a ring.
I’ve got a hard time believing LeBron doesn’t trust Pat Riley creating a new roster surrounding himself, Bosh and Wade. But I’ve got a harder time believing LeBron cares so little for the people he’s gone through the highest and lowest moments of his career with that he’s going to leave them the moment a possible better situation presents itself.
First off, there’s not a better situation elsewhere. How many times does Pat Riley have to sign a Hall-of-Fame bound veteran to a mid-level exception, before we finally realize that this is the best organization in sports?
You’re not going to convince me that James is going to go from the Heat to an organization run by this guy.
But it’s not even the comparison of the organizations and rosters that has me irked. It’s simply the idea that LeBron James is unappreciative, untrustworthy and looks at guys like Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh as nothing more than teammates, casual acquaintances at best.
To think LeBron wants to go through the process of re-acclimating with a new roster and new All-Stars to share the ball with. Just because you throw the names LeBron James and Chris Paul together doesn’t mean it’s going to work. I thought we knew better than that.
Otherwise, the Carmelo Anthony-Amar’e Stoudemire-led Knicks and Kobe Bryant-Dwight Howard-led Lakers would be fighting for one-seeds in their respective conferences. Does LeBron really want to go through the process of making things work with a crop of new role players and All-Stars?
Even a moderately healthy Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with a reduced role are better situations than having to adjust your game to new teammates who also want the ball at every moment.
But I’ll leave that type of analysis to those who are convinced LeBron has established no connection to the city of Miami.
I’ll just watch basketball.