There are 7 seconds left in Game 7 of the NBA Finals. The Heat have the ball at half court. The game is tied with an NBA Championship hanging in the balance. Who takes the final shot?…
Lebron has chosen the road less traveled. He has chosen this fate. From being the unquestioned “King,” to now being a “Prince” in Dwyane Wade’s South Beach Kingdom. As Dwyane Wade has said many times before, “This is my house!” Well welcome Lebron to the residence of Mr. Wade. I am still utterly shocked at the choice Lebron made on “The Decision” last evening and admit I thought he was going to the Knicks. But also do realize, that no matter where he went, there would be critics and doubters. So I am very happy that he finally made his storied “Decision.”
This whole story in a way reminds me of both of the Alex Rodriguez offeseason sagas which started with the free agency sweepstakes at the end of the 2000 season. A Rod was beloved in Seattle and one of the most up and coming players in the League. Then he signed the most lucrative contract the League had ever seen, and all the sudden was no longer beloved. He was still liked by many, but he was no longer beloved. This was different from Lebron’s free agency frenzy though, in that he went for the money. Lebron left to “win.” After a few years in Texas, A Rod decided that he wanted to “win” as well. Just before the 2004 season, Rodriguez decided that winning was more important than being the “guy” in Texas, so he went to Derek Jeter’s Yankee Kingdom in a big time blockbuster trade.
Does Rodriguez regret this decision? Nobody knows except the star himself. But he went from being the unquestioned best player in the game and ”King” of his former team, to a “Prince,” on Derek Jeter’s Yankees. He now is not even considered one of the top 5 players in baseball and is not even well liked by the city he plays in. Not to mention he had to reduce his role from the shortstop and leader of the infielder to a 3rd baseman. Not too many superstars have to move to 3rd before their skills even begin to wane (A Rod did). But the guy did win a World Championship though. So you decide for yourself if he is happy.
Lebron has chosen a similar fate to Mr. Rodriguez. Now lets hope that he never used steroids or that there is no big time media war forthcoming between him and Dwayne (like Rodriguez and Derek had). But I will tell you this. The Heat are Dwyane Wade’s team. He has been there for 7 years and brought them a championship. He is the unquestioned leader and “King” of Miami. Lebron will now be working for Dwyane. Since this is not baseball, he will not have to make the move from shortstop to 3rd, but in a way he will make the move from unquestioned leader and the franchise, to another star on the team. Which is still a big time role, but a reduction from what he has become accustomed to. Also Lebron for the first time in his career will have to deal with fans booing him all over the country. This whole free agency bonanza has made a lot of people dislike Lebron. Though I will not fully blame Lebron, in that it was the media’s fault too, he now has “haters.” And you better believe that Cleveland will be at the top of his “hater” list.
Now I give Lebron props for wanting to “win.” It was not about the money. This is good in that it has always been a hit on the former “King” that he just cared about his global status and becoming a global icon. That he lacked the killer instinct and desire to win like a Kobe Bryant. Though this whole free agency insanity has definitely increased his recognizability whether it was for better or worse. But now him (LBJ), Wade, and Bosh set out to bring Miami another championship. And many are already saying that the Heat will be the NBA 2011 Champions. And I say not so fast partner.
They have 3 stars. Then they will probably only be able to afford 9 minimum salary players. Talk about it being the right year to be a 2nd round selection for the Miami Heat. Guys like Da’Sean Butler, Dexter Pittman, and Jarvis Varnardo. Your chances of making the squad just went up immensely. And you get to play alongside 3 of the League’s biggest stars. Not a bad deal. Now the Celtics proved that a trifecta of stars can bring home a title right away as they did in 08. But that team had guys like Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins step up in big ways. And role players like James Posey bring the intangibles needed for a championship. Does this Miami team have guys ready to do that? It remains to be seen. So I am not crowning the Heat champions for the 2011 season yet, though I do think they will be a very tough team to beat.
And I will leave you with this. No matter where Lebron would have landed, there would have been people criticizing his decision. Had he stayed in Cleveland, people would have said, “He will never win a title there and is staying on blind loyalty.” Had he have went to Chicago, people would have said, “Enjoy Jordan’s shadow for the rest of your career.” Had he have gone to New York, people would have said, “You are now entering a situation that will not be fixed for at least another few years.” By going to Miami, people are saying, “You can win a title now. But it will not be your title, it will be Dwyane Wade’s.”
So this was no easy decision. But I do know this. If he wins a title, he had to go to Dwyane Wade’s house to get it. I did not ever see Jordan have to go to another superstar’s city to team up and win a title.
Lebron has officially gone from the “King” of Cleveland, to a “Prince” in Miami.
Best of luck to the former “King.”
Stay tuned for the next edition of Sportskraze.