Friday, July 09, 2010

My Six Point Analysis of the LeBron James Incident

1. LeBron really did sully his reputation with this entire episode. I thought it was mostly cranky old white people who were hating on LeBron and calling him an egotist. But it turns out the sentiment against him is nearly universal. It runs the gamut from hating him and refusing to watch the NBA ever again to people like me who are marginally disappointed with the way he handled this thing. But I do think it is worth nothing that what LeBron did was better than a press conference to apologize for sleeping with 15 women, or explaining how that handgun got in your carry-on bag, or to refute rape charges. This was mostly a positive think but I think a lot of the negative reaction has to do with the way the special was handled.

2. The special was an outright disaster. First of all, he said he told only a handful of people. Maybe true, but they told a handful of people and they told a handful of people and so on and by the time he made the announcement everyone knew his decision. I think that was the first embarrassment. The second embarrassment was 15 minutes of Stuart Scott and his merry men (I love Wilbon don’t get me wrong) saying the same things we’d all been saying for months. And then a 15-minute interview of softball questions from Jim Gray. And why say the announcement would come in the first 15 minutes if that’s not what they planned to do? They should have produced some package of LeBron from the summer getting on and off planes (someone must have been shooting this stuff), showed him interacting with the kids at the Boys and Girls Club (wasn’t that the entire reason behind this?) then have him make the announcement, then take questions from the audience/twitter. Sure the ratings would have plummeted in the second half hour but that’s better than ruining your reputation.

3. Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert may have also done some damage to his reputation. He wrote a letter ripping LeBron (and used a weird font to do it). He told Cavaliers fans they had been betrayed, called this a cowardly act and then in an AP interview ratcheted up the rhetoric even more saying LeBron quit on the team. I think he was just trying to act like a fan, to show he’s one of them, as he clearly runs the risk of losing his fan base this morning. The fact that he said he guarantees Cleveland will win an NBA title before the Heat is a perfect example of his attempt at a diehard fan’s eternal optimism. This morning Cleveland fans are devastated and setting fire to LeBron jerseys in the street. If Gilbert issued a statement saying something like “We thank LeBron for his years of service and wish him well in his new city” the fans would have been furious, thinking their owner doesn’t care as much as they do. I can see why some say it’s beneath a man of his stature to act like a common fan, but I also think LeBron probably owed him the courtesy of a phone call.

4. From a basketball perspective I think LeBron made a big mistake. He obviously realizes the only way to achieve basketball immortality is to win titles. And he’s willing to take less money and sublimate his ego (contrary to what he evinced with the Special) to accomplish that goal. But I think Chicago especially and possibly even the Knicks and Nets set themselves up to be long-term contenders if they could have added LeBron. Then he could have won titles (or at least competed for them) and had them be his own. It sort of seems like he is taking the easy way out by teaming up with Bosh and Wade. Sort of like when Gary Payton and Karl Malone joined the Lakers. Also, I have significant doubt that this will work out the way they all hope. It might be very hard for these three players to happily share the ball. And if they are not winning 60 games a year the talk with start and the fingers will point and this holy alliance could go south in a hurry. The key test will come late in games when you need one guy to take over. Wade has shown himself to be better in those situations so what if LeBron misses a couple of game-winners and Wade makes some? What if Wade ends up being Finals MVP the first time they win? Is that the type of title Lebron is pursuing with this decision?

5. I’m still not decided on what this means for the greater NBA. Over time history has shown that people like dynasties, so if the Heat become one I could see that being a positive for the league. I also don’t think it will be that easy for the Heat to become a dynasty. And even if they do, they will be like the Yankees, a lot of people will hate them. But there are a lot of teams that really have no chance before the season starts, and as Major League Baseball can tell you, the key to a successful league is competitive balance, and the illusion every team has a chance at the title.

6. As for the Knicks, they are royally screwed. Amare and only Amare with the rest of this roster (including the players acquired from Golden State for David Lee) is good enough to win about 25 – 30 games. Now Donnie Walsh has the choice: he can sign Mike Miller (ok, he signed with Miami, but you get the point) and Luke Ridnour or wait til next offseason and make a run at Melo, Chris Paul or Tony Parker. I think the latter is better because in the former you acquire players who really aren’t that great, for expensive long-term contracts, and that is not the model for success in the NBA. Getting LeBron was Plan A. It took a long time to formulate, and it failed. Plan B is to be bad for a really long time, but actually keep your draft picks. That may take even longer but it is probably the Knicks only chance to become a legitimate title contender capable of competing with Miami’s new juggernaut.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Song of the Week

"Neighbors Know My Name" - Trey Songz

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

I Hope Carlos Beltran Was Listening

During the Netherlands-Paraguay match the announcer recounted the recent struggles of Robin Van Persie

"Van Persie is just getting his match sharpness back bit by bit. He missed most of the season for Arsenal with a ruptured ankle ligament which required treatment from a lady who specializes in rubbing horse placenta on the injury in Belgrade. I don't think it shortened the recovery period for Van Persie."

That's Amar'e

The Knicks made the first splash in the historic free agency season of 2010.
The Knicks signed Amare Stoudemire for 5 years and $99.7m. They are obviously hoping the presence of Amare will address their biggest weakness when it comes to recruiting free agents: they have no team. Most other free agent suitors (Bulls, Nets, even Clippers) can boast a few NBA ready players on the roster, the Knicks have no such talent, so perhaps they are trying to use him as bait.
I still think it’s a long-shot to get LeBron , there’s no chance at Wade, Bosh would be redundant, and so would David Lee, so it looks like we’ll have Stoudemire and no one else, at least for now.

Amare Stoudemire signs with the Knicks

And I think at this point maybe they are best off suffering through one more bad season and trying again in free agency next year. Maybe at some point during the season they could trade for Chris Paul if New Orleans becomes convinced they can’t resign him.
Paul and Amare would be a good start to a team, but if D’Antoni couldn’t win with Stoudemire and Nash, what makes you think he can win with Paul and Stoudemire, or Stoudemire and anyone not named LeBron?
I think the Stoudemire signing is a good first step, but I still don’t see them signing LeBron, in which case I still don’t see a positive long-term prognosis for the team.