Saturday , Nov , 29 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Where, Oh Where, Has Our Little LeBron Gone?

Where, Oh Where, Has Our Little LeBron Gone?Who does not want LeBron James on their team?  At 28, 7, and 6, he is easily one of the most skilled players in the League.  He is as big as a power forward and more athletic than most guards in the NBA.  He is 23.  Its just not fair.  People like him should sit on Mount Olympus, drink nectar, eat ambrosia, and continue to plot on the Titans.  But basketball is cool too.

Let’s imagine the King in New York with a long-term deal and that it is already 2010.  He earns the league maximum and is making money from advertisements in a major way. The games are exciting.  Spike Lee is making shoe commercials again.  The Knicks are winning.  Babies no longer cry.  The only problem is they are losing to more balanced teams as they get deeper into the playoffs.

Quick question: will you remember how D’Antoni had the Knicks playing before the trade if LeBron does not go to New York?  And if you do remember Zack Randolph (20 and 12 as a Knickerbocker) and Jamal Crawford (20 a game in blue), will you remind Knick management to fire someone?

Let’s imagine him on the Pistons with the same scenario in terms of him making money and that it is 2010.  Would you be more inclined to buy a Ford if LeBron was in the commercial?  On the court, though, we see the Pistons play well in the regular season and then falter slightly in the playoffs when their aged core of Rasheed, Rip, and Iverson begin to demonstrate the fatigue of people in their mid thirties.  Tayshaun will probably be the odd man out if in 2 years the Pistons do try to sign LeBron.  It would be amazing if they find a way to keep both Maxiel and Stuckey while paying LeBron as much as he would want.

We have seen this type of thing before, folks: teams spending a large amount of money on either one or two players and then having a hard time spreading what is left around for an 11-man roster.  Minnesota tried to do this with Kevin Garnett and were only able to make one serious run at a Championship when an aging Latrell Sprewell, Wally Szczerbiak, and Sam Cassell ran together in ’04-’05.  The Lakers were looking at that same situation in ’05-’06 with Kobe putting up 35 a night with Lamar Odom in the wings giving 15 and 9.  The list goes on and on: Tracy McGrady and the Orlando Magic, Vince Carter and the Toronto Raptors, Allen Iverson and the Sixers…  Oh, the dark ages of NBA basketball.  The oddest thing is that LeBron is currently on a team that is about as good as one can expect while making the league maximum.

However, if its about the money, LeBron will go overseas and play in a league without a salary cap and make A-Rod money or the equivalent of the GDP of a small country.  For the sake of NBA fans, let us hope that is not the case.  Lets hope its about winning a Championship in the NBA.

If the Celtics, the Pistons, and the Spurs have taught us nothing else in these past few years, let the lesson be that winning a Championship is about team balance.

And for the nostalgic cornball in all of us- LeBron James on the Sixers or Iguodala on the Cavs would create a duo the likes of Jordan and Pippen.  It would be great to see LeBron and Chris Paul on the same team.  Dominique Wilkins and Doc Rivers all over again…

To other business: I have been receiving negative feedback for my comments on the Nuggets.  Denver has a good team.  They are 10-6 and are at the 7th spot in the west, but they are a good team.  When the dust settles on these trades, they might even get to the third round in the playoffs.  But please, do not think that LeBron is not better than Carmelo.  He is.

Games to look for:

San Antonio v. Houston (Saturday, November 29 at 8:30pm)—Expect the Spurs to take this game in the end, but it is likely that these two teams will see each other in the Playoffs.  And watch Manu—he seems to be doing alright in limited minutes coming off the bench.  Expect Pop to let him play a while.

Toronto v. Los Angeles Lakers (Sunday, November 30 at 9pm)—This game will be a good test for the Lakers.  Even though O’Neal is listed as day-to-day, Chris Bosh has been playing like a monster of late.  Expect this to be a close game with the Lakers prevailing.