24/7-365. Basketball Lives Here.
I’m the first person in the world to tell you that the media and fans opinion of a professional athlete doesn’t mean half as much as the players peers opinion does. Something happened over the past twenty years in American culture which made it okay for people that haven’t played professional sports, let alone college or high school ball to hate on a player, judge them and tell them what they should and shouldn’t do.
We’re in an era where the dude who eats donuts all day can scream negative things about an athlete, ignoring their rise, their grind and their accomplishment. We live in a day where a reporter or journalist who has never ever laced up to play a real game of basketball or worked out a day in their life has the right to go on national TV and destroy a player for making two mistakes in the fourth quarter of a close game.
Fact: That player will have sore legs the next morning, wake up and go to practice. A few hours later, that same player who just got grilled on Twitter for the past 24 hours will be lacing up again to play another game.
It sounds fun, and it is, but there is a reason these guys get paid the way they do. They put their body through hell in the offseason, only to handle the rigors of the regular season, new technology and all.
Professional athletes are HUMANS too, just like you and I. Pro athletes have families too, they have kids that go to school and have to hear about the negative shit people say about their parents, then they have to awkwardly explain the situation to them too.
The couch potato that refuses to get himself in shape, that can’t last in a pickup game or even driveway game with his neighbours but so boldly labels Russell Westbrook a “selfish, overrated ass**le” among other nasty things will still be a couch potato. God gave him the same chance to make something of himself that he did to Westbrook or KD, but he chose not to or lacked the discipline and grind to do so.
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) April 13, 2015
There is a big difference between analyzing and judging a game/players attitude and straight up having a negative perspective on life and just taking it out on pro athletes as if their animals.
People wonder why some players act the way they do and why the have such a shell. They wonder why someone like Marshawn Lynch refused to speak to the media during his career, and why a star like Kevin Durant lashed out last year when he said he hated the media. It’s because their walking targets from the moment they go pro and the people coming at them, for no real reason, are trying to make a story out of them by making them look like idiots. Via The Daily Oklahoman:
“You guys really don’t know (expletive),” Durant told reporters in his final interview session before Sunday’s All-Star Game.
“To be honest, man, I’m only here talking to y’all because I have to,” Durant said. “So I really don’t care. Y’all not my friends. You’re going to write what you want to write. You’re going to love us one day and hate us the next. That’s a part of it. So I just learn how to deal with y’all.”
If your local mailman made $50 million a year and you knew, would you think it’s okay to talk sh*t about them to everyone as if they aren’t human? No. Pro athletes don’t get that pass these days.
That’s why half the heat LeBron James got this past week for unfollowing the Cavs on social media then following it up by saying that he wants to team up with Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul and Dwyane Wade to form a new NBA superpower should be irrelevant.
Just because a keyboard warrior or couch potato can call LeBron James a “b**ch” on Twitter for his actions, doesn’t mean he is one. No pro athlete should be called that. These guys are all the opposite of half the negative things they are labelled as.
When LeBron first said that he’d team up with his “brotherhood”, the first thought that came to mind was “shock value”, the second: “wants more attention” and the third: “because Steph Curry has all the attention”.
LeBron James isn’t being talked about the way he once was. One reason is we got bored and new stars emerged, the other reason is James will always be measured by what happens in JUNE, therefore he’s way more important in JUNE than he is in March.
As any human would, these athletes miss the attention when it isn’t as high as it once was and they’ll say things like this to get the headlines. It makes them relevant, it gives them a buzz, nowadays it makes them “trend “ and show up on your “popular page” or newsfeed and in the end, especially if your LeBron James, that makes them more money.
The 31-year-old knew damn well that the comments he made about forming a super team with CP3, Melo and D-Wade would make major noise and they did, so maybe LeBron got exactly what he wanted and isn’t really planning on making this thing actually happen.
That being said, this is the same guy that, at the peak of his career, went on National TV to ditch his hometown and join what was at the time a top five player in the league in Dwyane Wade and one of the best big men in the game in Chris Bosh to form one of the most talented teams in NBA history.
As expected, the Heat went to the NBA Finals during ever year of LeBron’s tenure in Miami. But, they didn’t win the 5, 6 or 7 (we’ll say 4, because he probably said “not 5, not 6.. not 7 “ out of adrenaline) championships James said they would.
That Heat super team changed the NBA, forever. Though they went 2-for-4 in the Finals and lost to the Mavs and Spurs, two teams that relied on teamwork and defense to win, two teams that were built and not bought, the Heat still re-wrote the blueprint and model for success in the NBA.
But the truth is, the original Heat super team may just have ruined the game and LeBron’s chances of ever being able to play with a “normal” roster.
There was a time where Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, two friends who respected each other, wanted to kill each other every time they took the court. You think Michael Jordan thought about joining Charles Barkley and Hakeem when his Bulls were getting beat by the Bad Boy Pistons? Hell no.
Back then if you were a megastar in the NBA and joined another superstar, it was the equivalent of throwing in the white flag in a war. It was a moment of defeat.
From the start of time, the top stars always wanted to beat the other top stars, not join them. This changed when LeBron made The Decision. Now all the NBA teams are trying to stack their roster to match the depth of James’ teams.
Supertars shouldn’t want to join other superstars. It just doesn’t feel right when they do.
Once upon a time, if you were a top ten player in the NBA, you played every night to prove that you’re a top five player. The best player in the league used to play with a chip on his shoulder and worked harder than ever to maintain HIS top spot.
Even years after the MJ era; the top stars in the league always wanted to KILL one another on the basketball court. They partied at All-Star Weekends, they played on Team USA together, they even chilled in the summer, but joining each other in the prime of their careers, at least by choice, was a sin. If they happened to get traded or ended up signing on, it happened, but it was never by force.
You think Kobe Bryant would have ever recruited Allen Iverson, Tracy McGrady and Tim Duncan to join him in 2005? No way in hell. They had way too much pride for that. This sport is built on competitiveness. These guys wanted to prove something every single time they took the floor.
Stars back then would take the losing seasons straight up rather than creating storylines all season about future free agents joining them next year. The same thing goes for the Ray Allen, Vince Carter and Kevin Garnett’s of the world. Even a player like Gilbert Arenas, a legitimate NBA star in the mid-2000’s wouldn’t dare have jumped ship to form a super team with two other superstars.
For years and years that was looked down upon in the NBA and didn’t even cross the minds of most stars.
When the Boston Celtics created the “Big Three” in 2007, people went “holy sh*t”, because Danny Ainge, the GM, had pulled off a blockbuster trade for Ray Allen and KG in the same summer. Pierce, Allen and KG sure as hell didn’t spend the regular season flirting with the idea of joining each other only to do the predictable when the time came.
They did it the right way.
Back in the day, the top stars in the league had this insane competitive drive that would make the game so exciting to watch. The league was balanced, every game featured an elite star or two, and they weren’t always on the same team.
Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant’s blood used to boil when they’d play against another star. The fear of coming up short or not playing to the best of their abilities fuelled them work their asses off in the offseason in order to win a championship for THEIR teams.
Hours and hours of work went into taking on the tough task of being the best player in the season (every star dreams of this), having a good record, achieving individual milestones and most importantly, winning an NBA Championship.
This doesn’t exist anymore, or on the level that it once did and a lot of that is LeBron James fault…”#StraightUp”. It’s not that he doesn’t work hard in the offseason, James actually works harder than anyone in the league, but at times it seems that he’s okay with taking the easy way out when it comes to the actual task.
When James says things like he wants to create a super team with his brothers, in the regular season, before the playoffs, it gives so much more weight and credibility to the notion that “LeBron takes the easy way out” statement. He got a lot of heat for joining two of the NBA’s top stars when he went to Miami, and that time he said they were changing the game and making it okay.
Then he came back to Cleveland and joined two of the NBA’s top stars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, and despite being on top of the Eastern Conference and coming off an NBA Finals appearance, James doesn’t seem happy.
Knowing that his window to win multiple championships is closing, LeBron seems scared. If he fails to win a title with a big three which features one of the best PG’s in the game, a power forward who was averaging 26 and 13 just two years ago, what will they say? What if he goes 2-5 in the NBA Finals? What if the “Chosen One” is still sitting at two rings at the age of 34 and didn’t “exceed the expectations” like we once said he did? What if Steph Curry ends up with more rings, or Kevin Durant? What about Mount Rushmore?
These thoughts have to be running through LeBron’s head all season long, and they should. He put a lot of pressure on himself by saying some of the things he did, especially by calling himself the “Chosen One” and “The King” before he even entered the NBA. But he shouldn’t run from them, because he’s just too damn talented to do that. The most physically gifted force in the history of the game, or modern sports for that matter should be able to man up and face his fears, just like the greats before him did. Any couch potato, analyst and former or current player (if their honest) will tell you that.
When in their careers did Mike and Kobe have to address the fact that they aren’t killers on the court like LeBron has had to so many times over the past few years? Never. We saw it, we felt it and we were apart of it, cheering for them and admiring their competitive drive to be the absolute best.
It made their success that much more beautiful. The ego and selfishness that the world once hated Kobe Bryant for, became the competitive fire and drive to be the absolute best that he is now being celebrated for, by everyone including his former haters.
Kobe is walking away from the game with fellow players calling him the greatest of their time, the Michael Jordan of their era, the reason they play the game. Legends and fans all over the world, some of whom were once critics, are sitting back and appreciating/applauding the greatness of this man. Only a fool would dare speak about him in a negative way on his way out. He beat his demons, he did it all and he did it the right way. The world recognizes that, which is why fans all over the NBA are chanting “KO-BE” as he exits games.
Bryant is leaving the game at peace and fellow players/fans are allowing him to do that. The reason it’s so easy for him to do that is because he accomplished everything he wanted and needed to and we saw the grind and the struggle before the success, the adversity which not once made him want to form a super team with other elite players in the NBA.
It’ll be interesting to see if LeBron gets this type of reception as he leaves the game. As of right now, James does not look nearly at peace with himself and his window is definitely closing. Keep in mind, Kobe Bryant was 31-years-old when he won his final NBA Championship, he had one All-Star player with him in Pau Gasol and a solid supporting cast. LeBron James is 31-years-old and is still going for his third NBA Championship, only difference is he’s had at least two top ten players in the league on his team for the past six years.
So by saying he wants to form a super team with a group of guys that are the faces of his generation, even if he’s doing it for shock value, leads us to think that he’s OK with taking that route to win championships.
Look how predictable the NBA’s Eastern Conference has become. LeBron James has surrounded himself with so much talent over the past six years that it’s almost impossible for him to not make the NBA Finals. It’s a cake-walk for the Cavs this year.
There could be turmoil in the locker room, there could be two other coaching changes in the next month… as long as LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love are healthy, this team is going to the NBA Finals and their getting a fair shot at whoever comes out of the West.
The truth is out, if James can’t get it done with this much talent, he looks extremely weak and stains his legacy if he responds by forming a super team with Chris Paul, one of the best PG’s of their era, Dwyane Wade (one of the best guards of all-time) and Carmelo Anthony, regarded by many as the most difficult player to guard over the past ten years.
These LeBron-Wade matchups are the reasons we used to tune into NBA on ABC back in 2005-2009. These LeBron-Melo matchups are what we dreamed of when the two were drafted in 2003. Prime Jordan was never down to team up with John Stockton, but if LeBron wants to leave Kyrie for Chris, I guess that’s acceptable, right?
What happens to the Knicks if Melo goes somewhere “warm”? What about the Clippers and Heat? They lose box office draws. This would leave us with just 4-5 must-watch teams in the league, which is extremely bad because there are 30 teams in the league.
These video game teams, which were once considered unrealistic, break the balance of the league; they lead to so many meaningless games on the schedule. This leads to so many empty seats in arenas on nights where super teams aren’t playing.
Think about it from a consumers standpoint: If a city like Detroit, still recovering from the recession, hosts a star-studded team of LeBron, Wade, Paul and Melo two or three times a year, their fans won’t care to go to many other games. Of course, KD, Russ and Steph will still be coming out, but for someone who only has a budget which allows them to attend 2-3 games a year, where do you think their spending their money? Most likely to get a glimpse of LeBron, Paul, Wade and Melo at the same time.
These super teams not only end up going deep in the playoffs with ease, they also take away from merchandise prestige, fan diversity (everyone likes the same 2-3 teams), All-Star Games and the overall excitement of the league.
There’s no competitiveness. On an off night, LeBron and his “brotherhood” may come up short to a weaker Hornets team, but that’s not going to happen very often as they’ll win games strictly off talent, even if the chemistry sucks. A super team built around James will still win games simply because they have too many weapons to lose.
It’s deeper than just the NBA. These super teams are hitting the future of basketball as well by making it okay for the very best players to play with each other. Take a look at the grassroots level of basketball, the top prospects in the country all seem to play on the same AAU teams now. This is hurting the game on so many levels, especially form a development and competitiveness standpoint and it’s showing when they get to the NBA.
Kemba Walker won’t wake LeBron James up to compete, but Carmelo Anthony always does. The NBA needs that and that’s what basketball has always been about: pride, respect, and putting on for YOUR city and YOUR fans/organization, night in and night out.
Fans want to see James Harden vs LeBron James, not James Harden vs LeBron, Melo, Paul and Wade. That’s just straight up unfair.
The league has three legitimate super powers right now (Spurs, Warriors and Cavs) and only one of them is a super team, so this formula may not even be working, but it’s still doing all the other damage mentioned above.
That Miami super team from 2010-2014 was cool, because they were the first of their kind and it was a revolutionary moment for the league. But, LeBron’s current big three might just be more talented than the Heat big three, so if the Cavs can’t win a title this year, it’s definitely not his supporting casts or GM’s fault.
The 20 second pregame handshakes, the working out in the offseason together and the taking photos together thing is cool, it’s all off-court stuff, but when the on-court product of the NBA is taking a hit from an entertainment standpoint AND a competitive standpoint, then it becomes a huge problem.
There is a popular saying in competition that goes “If you can’t beat them, join them”, with all due respect, that’s for the Metta World Peace and David West’s of the world, not LeBron James.
Tracy McGrady, one of the biggest stars of his era, felt the same way as us about this topic and a lot of other great players will agree.
It’s way more exciting when the most talented player in the league brings a group of great players together, makes them better through his leadership and wins an NBA title, not when he joins forces with three other megastars of his time to destroy the competition.
This best friend for life era of the NBA, which James made acceptable hasn’t even proven to be successful yet, but it’s seriously hurting the game and it needs to stop.
If the potential brotherhood team that James is talking about were to come up short like his previous super teams have, he won’t leave the game at peace with himself like Kobe is, because he had a better opportunity to achieve greatness than any other legends before him and it’s because of the teams he’s built.
If LeBron James wants to avoid putting even more pressure on himself to win an NBA title, he shouldn’t even consider joining Paul, Wade and Melo. As a matter of fact, he shouldn’t even consider leaving Cleveland, because he said he never would.