Wednesday, August 18

TMQ on LeBron

Look, as annoyed as I was with LeBron's shenanigans earlier this summer, I have to take issue with ESPN's Gregg Easterbrook (TMQ)'s bizarre item, "LeBron James Has Uneventful Summer."

LeBron James has never won an NBA championship - as opposed to, say, Derek Fisher, who owns five rings. What exactly are his accomplishments, beyond making money and getting media attention?
Well, for one, Gregg, he's won the past two NBA MVP awards. That seems like an accomplishment, no? He's also claimed a scoring title, put up the best single-season PER since Jordan, led the Cavs to two 60-plus wins seasons, and somehow got an undermanned 2007 Cavs team to the Finals. But you're right, no accomplishments. And the Fisher comparison is preposterous. Are you actually suggesting that Derek Fisher is a better basketball player than LeBron James? Because he is not, and including him here is intellectually dishonest. Adam Morrison has two titles - does that make him a better player than LeBron?

Supposedly, James is unstoppable, but in the playoffs he has been stopped on an annual basis.
Who ever said he was unstoppable? This is written as if basketball is an individual sport, which is most certainly is not.

Bruce Bowen, Robert Horry and Michael Finley: These are players who started against James the one time he reached the NBA Finals and defeated him.
These are role players who were fortunate to be on the same club as Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili. This is a tremendously weak argument, picking the three least important starters from a championship Spurs team as if that somehow denigrates James' success. Every title team has role players and stars - the role players aren't suddenly better than stars on non-title teams just because they have better teammates. Easterbrook knows this and is still trying to make this non-point.

Horry owns seven NBA championship rings; he is a substantially more accomplished basketball player than James.
If the only metric you use is championships, then yes. If you use pretty much any other metric, then no.

Yes, James wins trophies for himself. The most tedious figures in sports are the ones who collect individual awards but never make their teammates better.
This is ridiculous. He wins trophies "for himself" by playing basketball the best he can and leading his teams to wins. I don't get it, should LeBron have played worse so as not to win those trophies and thus avoid being tedious? How, exactly should he have made his teammates better - being the best player in the league? Leading the league in assists by a forward? Wait, he did do those things.

People who view winning a championship as the only way to measure sports accomplishment are morons. Basketball is a team game, just like baseball and football, and while it's true that superstars dominate hoops more than the other, it still takes a complete team to win a title. Plus, there are 30 teams in the NBA and last I checked, only one can win a title each year. Great play will not always be rewarded with rings. In fact, I've found the whole recent bashing-LBJ-for-not-winning-a-title thing to be a tad unfair, though bashing him for tanking Games 5 and 6 against Boston is legitimate.

Maybe James will win a title with Miami, but TMQ is pickin' up bad vibrations about the whole stacked-Heat turn of events.
I wish I could say the same - that club looks tough.'s J.A. Adande sums up my reaction: "Everyone associated with this looks bad."

If Miami wins the next NBA championship, it will seem the season was a staged stunt, like professional wrestling.
Someone already made an internet video about that like a month ago. It was hilarious.

If the Heat don't take the championship, James will have sacrificed public respect in return for treading water. Lakers and Celtics, BEAT MIAMI!
I agree with this even though I hate the Lakers and Celtics. Hell, I'd even root for Orlando at this point.

Once, James seemed a special person because he was loyal to Ohio, a nonglamorous place with all kinds of problems.
Problems like having to waste time line-by-lining poorly-argued sports articles. Also, LeBron was never loyal to Ohio, just Akron. And the "special" thing is, at least in part, because he was awesome at basketball. I mean, I'm loyal to Ohio - all of it - and I'm not a special person, despite what my Mom would have you believe.

When James made his announcement, the carefully screened little kids at the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, Conn., didn't clap; they groaned in unison.
Did that really happen? I don't think that happened.

Even the kids knew it was the end of James as a special figure.
Doubt it.

Now James is just another spoiled pretty boy who cares only about himself.
He is that first thing, but he's also the best basketball player in the world, so...slightly different.

Sure, there are lots of pro athletes who care only about themselves.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say most players care about at least one other thing. LeBron has two kids, for instance.

Why did James have to become yet another?
So he could play basketball on the beach with his buddies. Do you really not understand this, or is this just a writing device you're using? I find myself wondering this increasingly about people constructing arguments using rhetorical questions. Do you really not know this?

Decision night note: James said, "I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and what would make him happy." Referring to yourself as "him" takes the royal "we" to an absurd new level.
It's not the same - "we" is a first-person plural pronoun while "him" is a third-person singular one. It was a pretty silly thing to say, and this is coming from a person who regularly refers to himself as Francis.

Heat note: This better work for Pat Riley, as the Heat have shot their budget until 2016, and quietly gave up four first-round and two second-round draft choices in the sign-and-trades that completed the package. Miami also surrendered two "trade exceptions" (in the NBA, cap allowances can be traded). Even in a soft-cap league, the Heat will have no powder left in their keg for several years. In recent NBA history, teams that have mortgaged their caps and draft positions -- think of the Knicks - soon regretted doing so.
Frankly, as lame as the whole situation is, I think Riley made the right move going for the gold. On the other hand, I hope it fails epically.

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