Lebron James is a great basketball player. No, he is really great. Perhaps sometimes too great.
He can jump to the moon on an epic dunk or a chase down block.
He can take almost anyone off the dribble.
He rebounds better than any other small forward in the game save maybe Gerald Wallace.
His passing is second only to Steve Nash.
He returned the Cleveland Cavaliers from Basketball purgatory to NBA relevance.
He is a 2-time MVP and made 1st team All-Defense. So yes, he is really great. But 6 relevant years into his career and he is still ringless. So we played the blame game. His supporting cast was not good enough. Paul Silas needed to go. The GM was not doing a good enough job. So Ferry and company turn over the roster time and time again. Larry Hughes, will be his Scottie. Mo Williams will be his Scottie. Antawn Jamison will be his Scottie. Every where Shaq goes he wins a championship. *coughs*exceptOrlandoandPhoenix*cough* Still no ring. Lebron plays on the Olympic team. Wins a gold medal. Learns dedication and the importance of defense from Kobe. Sill no ring. Back to back 60 wins seasons? Still no ring. So with his excuses running out, with 7 years of experience under his belt, with the best supporting cast he has ever had and against a Boston team that had no intentions of lying down... the King rolled over. Rajon Rondo stole his thunder. He quit on his team in game 5. He had no intensity in game 6. Remember how he winked at the Chicago bench after draining deep 3s and fade aways? Nothing doing after hitting back to back 3s in the 4th quarter in game 6 against Boston. Most of you saw the game. You recall what he did when Rivers called time out. He ran back to the bench, unenthusiastic, sat and put his head down. The King of basketball PUT HIS HEAD DOWN in a pivotal, game changing, series changing, franchise changing and career changing game. When put against a hungrier team Lebron James shrunk.
This is the man who will be leading the free agent class of 2010.
So why am I bringing this up on a Chicago Bulls' blog? Because if we are to believe Chris Broussard and the rest of the Rock em Sock em Media Robots who just collectively popped us one under the chin to get our attention, Lebron may very well be looking to make Chicago his new home.
Lebron James is not a small man. He is 6'8" 240 lbs... or is he 6'9" 260? Lebron likes to have fun with that. He is the Dwarf Star not because of his size but because he not only dwarfs much of the competition, but he dwarfs his own teammates as well. Only in the past couple of months did I come to believe this. I, like almost everyone else who follows the NBA, believed that Lebron made his teammates better. His teammates love him. They bowl each other over, take snap shots and have a million and one handshakes (who wants to buy some DVDs?) As it turns out, this is the greatest myth about The Chosen One. From a statistical standpoint, whose game improved? Did Wally suddenly become a better 3 point shooter? Did Mo Williams suddenly become a better defensive player? Did Jamison even get a chance to be James' number 2? Was not the definition of Lebron making his team better based on the fact that he is so good and commands so much attention that the game is simply made easier for his teammates? It is not as if they have improved; if anything younger players would have a hard time growing when they can only feed off of the crumbs left behind by James. But Chicago is different. Chicago has all-star Derrick Rose and budding star and team leader Joakim Noah. These guys are not "role players" who will simply thrive by playing off of someone else's brilliance. They need to be able to play their game while Lebron plays his. And that is my primary concern.
Do not misunderstand me. If Lebron wants to come to Chicago (and bring Calipari with him) then I am all in. The last thing I want is for the Bulls to be the laughingstock franchise that turned down the best player in the league. But instead of being 110% sure of this wish a couple of weeks ago, I am now 99% sure... if not lower. Because I am concerned that his talents will dwarf the talents of the rest of the team. Because I am concerned that his leadership skills are based on being his team's buddy instead of being the leader they will need him to be night in and night out. Because I am concerned that, with an early playoff exit that raises questions about Lebron's commitment, Lebron's will and Lebron's leadership that Noah will say, "I don't need this" hit free agency one day and sign with another team with a superstar swingman who wants it more. Because make no mistake, Noah is on the cusp of stardom in this league even if he never becomes an all-world scorer. He can be in-his-prime Ben Wallace plus an offensive game and every contender in the league not named the Magic or the Nets will want him. Because Derrick Rose has a great chance at being the best point guard in the league if his game is allowed to improve... something that no player playing along side James has done. Because even though Rose loves Chicago and is living his dream come true, his big brother might advise him that maybe he has a better chance to grow and win a championship alongside another star. Because right now, that lurking 1% of weariness fears that maybe, just maybe Lebron might end up being as a rich man's Tracy McGrady. If Chicago gets Lebron, they will be expected to win multiple titles, plain and simple.
But can the Dwarf Star share NBA space within a cluster of stars instead of just in his own space? Can the Chosen One act like the basketball Messiah the NBA, his entourage and even he himself expects to be? Are we just witnessing the NBA version of Alex Rodriguez before 2009? Yes, a curious case indeed.