Thursday, May 13, 2010

LeBron Needs to Prove He Is "King James" ... Or Just Sign On With a Winner

This is LeBron James' moment.

His Cleveland Cavaliers ... owners of the best record in the regular season ... face the Celtics in Boston tonight. They must win that game and then a Game 7 back in Cleveland or else their season is over. What was such a promising and exciting season a week ago has now turned into tense nerves. That's what a 32-point loss at home can do to ya.

While the Lakers, Magic and Suns are all enjoying some time off after their sweeps, the Cavs and Celtics are clawing at each other for that final spot.

Game 5 was a bad one for LeBron. Game 6 is huge. For those people who continue to try to convince me that LeBron is the best player in the NBA ... I want to see how he performs tonight. With his back against the wall and his season (and possibly Cavs career) on the line, I want to see what this cat will bring to Beantown. I expect to see the dominating LeBron attacking the basket and not one that settles for jump shots.

The last time LeBron was put in this position, he stormed off the floor in Orlando last May. The Magic disposed of the Cavaliers in six game and LeBron huffed and puffed and went home. When he did finally emerge, he complained that shaking your opponents' hands in a loss makes you a loser. Well, LeBron ... you are.

The Cavaliers have never won anything. Not before you got there and not the King James version. Sure, these are the best times in the franchise's life but if you want to be considered among the greatest of all time, you might want to win a title. Yes, Karl Malone and Charles Barkley are fondly remembered. But Michael Jordan, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson are beloved.

Which brings me to his impending free agency. The one thing we will hear from these mega-star free agents is "it isn't about the money -- it's about winning." Bullcrap. Bullcrap! Stop selling us that baloney. If it was "all about winning", then LeBron, Dwyane Wade, Amare Stoudamire, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson would all take less money and join forces to win a title. Win some titles that way. Who cares if you overloaded a team to win it all?? Most of the Celtics championship teams were filled with Hall Of Famers. So were the Lakers teams of the 1980s.

My outside the box scenario is that LeBron goes to Los Angeles and joins the Lakers. It actually is a perfect scenario. LeBron could be the Magic Johnson-esque point guard to replace Derek Fisher in the starting lineup (keep Fish around for those big shots he provides). Imagine the defensive possibilities with a backcourt of LeBron and Kobe Bryant with Ron Artest on the wing and Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum patrolling the paint. LeBron's game is perfect for the triangle offense and his ability and willingness to pass the ball will allow him to fit in.

Sure, that means the Lakers signed him for the mid-level exception (about $5M per) and that he'd be giving up three or four times that on the open market ... but it's about winning, right? And the marketing opportunities that await LeBron in New York are pretty much available in Los Angeles. The Lakers are the glamor franchise of the NBA and LeBron would be the eventual heir to that organization's reign. From Kareem to Magic to Shaq to Kobe to LeBron.

Why not? It's about winning championships, right? Well, if you signed a smaller deal with LA this summer, you will be in a great chance to start your ring collection. After all, this team won one last year without you and Kobe is sitting on four rings right now (and counting).

Don't think of it as you riding Kobe's coattails to a title. Again, you could become the man in LA once Kobe's done and you know that organization has the pull to keep you among the elite. This is a franchise that dismantled a three-time championship team ... only to go to the Finals four years later.

So either shut up and ball you balls off tonight in Boston. Or put your money where your mouth is and truly find the place that is best for winning a title.

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