Thursday, July 8, 2010
Well thank god that's over. As even your shut-in aunt who orders groceries through the internet because she's afraid to leave the house and her six cats, three birds, and 80 china dolls and who hasn't seen a live tree in years but is a level 80 paladin has probably heard by now, Lebron James is going to sign with the Heat and create SuperTeam, ending literally years of speculation - years that have felt like eons, at this point.
I really don't know what was more annoying: Lebron's arrogance or people complaining about Lebron's arrogance. Not counting angry old white people, I think most sports fans were willing to give Lebron and company some leeway, seeing as how these are guys in their mid-to-late twenties who have made millions and are about to make some pretty big decisions, not to mention that this was the best free agent class in the history of the NBA and it wasn't even close - of course they were going to dominate headlines. (now that my friends, is a run-on sentence)
The tipping point, however, seemed to be this one-hour special on ESPN to announce James' decision. This took a lot of people from patient, indulgent, and "kids being kids" to irritated, disgusted, and "disgrace to the game." It's hard not to be one of these people. I don't want to rehash the same things that have already been rehashed by everybody within a six-foot radius of a keyboard or a pencil, but, like many, I like Kevin Durant just a little bit more now, Lebron a little bit less (although not nearly as much as most others), and Scott Baker a whole lot less.
I do feel a little bit of sympathy for him, to be honest, or at least as much as one can feel for someone who may end up earning a billion dollars in his career - a career which will likely end before he turns 40. He was really in a no-win situation, and was going to get ripped no matter what he did. Of course, he did handle this with all the finesse of Grawp, so it's tough to have more than the tiniest smidgeon of sympathy. Worse than anything LeBron did, outside of referring to himself in the third person as "the King", were some of the arguments and teeth-nashing from others who somehow felt that they were entitled to an opinion in this whole garbage dump.
My personal favorite was from some clown on KFAN (nobody I have ever heard on there before) who was ranting and raving about how if Lebron chose Miami it was a travesty of justice and made the NBA a joke because:
1. They are buying a championship
2. They are guaranteed to become a dynasty
3. It's unfair to everyone because they are getting these three players without having to give anything up.
First off, point #2 is stupid, because they may have three super stars, but anyone who knows anything about sports knows what injuries can do. Further than that, they are going to have so much money tied up in those three guys that who knows what else they are going to end up filling the roster with. It will probably be mostly crap, and those three guys are going to be playing 40+ minutes every single night, which leads to both injuries and tired legs. They are probably not even the #1 favorite to win next year. Ok, actually they are, but it's not that clear cut.
As for the rest, it's ludicrous. This isn't the Yankees outspending everybody else. There is a salary cap, and everyone has to abide by it. There were several teams that have been planning for this for two years or more, and they very much have had to make sacrifices and give things up. The Bulls just gave away Kirk Hinrich for nothing. The Heat traded a nice young player in Daequan Cook away for nothing, and had to give up a first round pick in order to do it. The Knicks have been planning for this for years. If the Heat hadn't gotten these there, their entire roster would have been Michael Beasley and Mario Chalmers. That was there entire list of players under contract. As it stands now, they have to fill in the rest of the team with minimum or near-minimum guys.
The Lakers still have the same team, but with a better point guard. The Celtics are older, but they're still intact and added Jermaine O'Neal. The Bulls got better. The Magic are just as good. Dallas got better. And the Thunder are absolutely on their way. This isn't going to be a slam dunk.
Imagine this. Heat vs. Lakers in the finals. With all the freaking out people are doing, with all the hate pouring in about Lebron (seriously, check Twitter - or anywhere on the internet, people are losing their shit), with all the built in anti-favorite bias everyone seems to have.....would the world root for Kobe?
Lebron, Bosh, and Wade are all taking less than max contracts, less than they could get elsewhere, in order to go after a title (or more) and play together because they are good friends.
Can you really begrudge them that?