Friday, July 9, 2010

LeBron James: The new A-Rod?

Let me indulge in a little basketball banter this morning, with my thoughts on the whole LeBron James saga. Yes, I'm glad LeBron James isn't going to the Knicks. And I'm also glad that King James is about to take the most despised sports superstar title away from Alex Rodriguez (who really should have gotten that dubious crown lifted from him after the Yankees won the 2009 World Series.) Because the way LeBron handled The Decision  - with an hour-long nationally televised dog-and-pony show - made A-Rod opting out during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series look positively restrained.

Look, I'm not going to be a hypocrite and chastise LeBron for leaving Cleveland and heading to to the Miami Heat - or "South Beach," as he called it.  After all, I root for the New York Yankees, a team loaded with free agents who did just what he did. And James is taking less money to be with a franchise where he thinks he's got a better chance of winning it all. Kind of like how A-Rod was willing to take less money to get out of Texas, and how he gave up the chance to be the greatest shortstop of all time by going to the Yankees and deferring to Derek Jeter.

But LeBron had better win - right away - or he's going to get the same reputation as a postseason choker that A-Rod did for so long with the Yankees. I saw a lot of talk on Facebook and Twitter last night about how the Miami Heat is Dwyane Wade's team, the way many Yankee fans said when A-Rod came to New York that the Bombers were Jeter's team. Although James and Wade (and Chris Bosh) are all friends - apparently they cooked up this scheme to play together back in the 2008 Olympics (reminds me of the rumors that Andy Pettitte and Roger Clemens planned going to the Houston Astros months ahead of time), Wade already has his ring. And if the Heat falter in the playoffs, James, not Wade, is the one who is going to get the, um, heat over it.

Frankly, given James' failure in the postseason, capped by this year's debacle against the Celtics, I'm surprised he doesn't already have more of a rep as somebody who can't hack it in the playoffs. Or as a very poor sport - I lost a lot of respect for him when he refused to shake hands after losing in the postseason.

LeBron has put as big a target on his back as A-Rod did with his $252 million contract with the Texas Rangers. People forget that A-Rod's rep was squeaky clean - and he was a beloved figure - when he was with Seattle. But when he left the Mariners at age 25 (the same age LeBron is now), A-Rod's reputation took a huge hit, and it never really recovered. Heck, they're still throwing fake dollar bills at him in Seattle, as they did just last night!

I don't think there was any easy way LeBron could have left Cleveland. But I also think he couldn't have handled it much worse, from having the six contending teams kiss his ring, to not giving the Cavs a heads-up to his plans, to making his decision a nationally televised debacle. ESPN's Stuart Scott is defending what LeBron did, saying they were giving money to charity with the broadcast. So what, who cares, as Joy Behar would say.

I loved that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert issued such an over-the-top, furious statement last night, calling James a narcissist and a coward. It was like something George Steinbrenner would have done back in the day, showing as much passion for the team as the fans do. Give me anger like that anyday over some mealy-mouthed corporate statement issued by some PR drone.

And I don't exactly feel sorry for the Knicks. My worst fear about the Yankees is that the Steinbrenner kids one day sell the team to the Dolans. What kind of sport is basketball, that you can essentially tank two seasons (yet still sell your tickets at full price), and cheat your fans out of good basketball, just to clear some cap space? Oh, and how about the Knicks' "closer"? You bring in Isiah Thomas, the person who single-handed killed a 50-year-old basketball league, and who helped destroy your franchise, to get the job done? Unbelievable.

Yes, I am loving that LeBron James is not coming to New York. After all the Get LeBron and C'mon LeBron nonsense, after all the tabloid journalists acting like cheerleaders to get him on the Knicks, and the expectation that him coming to New York was inevitable, I'm loving that the city's mediots got their LeBron pom-poms knocked out of their hands.

At any rate, I think the person happiest about this whole LeBron thing is A-Rod. Now James, not Rodriguez, will be sports'  punching bag pinata when it comes to complaining about athletes. Alex has to be relieved.


Anonymous said...

I too am glad that LeBron chose not to come to NYC. More athletes, especially baseball players, need to see the light, and avoid becoming mercenaries, taking the big bucks and selling their souls to the devils on 161st street. Shame on you.

Uncle Mike said...

The Garden is at 31st to 33rd Street, genius. NOT 161st. You were off by 130 blocks. You didn't even get the Borough right! Then again, look what the Knicks have spent, and gotten nothing out of it. The Mets, a franchise branded by losing, have won 3 Pennants since the last Knick title in May '73! 0-for-2 in NBA Finals in the following 37 seasons!

Anyway... LeBron becomes "the new A-Rod" when he wins his 1st title. Until he does, he combines the worst of the pre-2009 A-Rod with the worst of Patrick Ewing, another "It's not a matter of IF he'll win championships, but HOW MANY" guy.

Last night, after the announcement, WFAN's Steve Somers repeatedly said that LeBron was an idiot. (Even though I'm a Yankee Fan, I gotta love the Schmoozer.) And Somers' next caller went further, using that great N'Yawk insult: "He's a bum." They were both right.

How can you be The Man for the entire league when you're not even The Man on your own team? And did LeWade (we might as well give them one of those dopey "supercouple" tags like Bennifer and Brangelina) learn nothing from the "supergroup" that the Lakers tried to build for 2003-04? Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Karl Malone, Gary Payton. They roared through the Playoffs, despite the legal cloud hanging over Kobe's head (which swelled to the point where it was, at least metaphorically, even bigger than Shaq's massive dome), and then got embarrassed in the Finals by Detroit, with not one player who's a sure thing for the Hall of Fame. I can see the same thing happening to the Heat.

Anonymous said...

I got both the borough and the street right. The Devil does live at 161st street, in that new bank vault (you call it a stadium) that the taxpayers were extorted into paying for. Read carefully, hmmm?

Uncle Mike said...

No, you did not get it right. LeBron rejected the Knicks, not the Yankees. In case you haven't noticed, he doesn't play baseball, he plays basketball. He was never going to play for the Yankees.

Though Michael Jordan try to play baseball, and batted .202 in Double-A ball. At least he had more success than you do on this site, and enough sense to stop doing something he couldn't do.

Anonymous said...

No sh*t, Sherlock. Put your glasses on, Mikey. I said "especially baseball players", hence the reference to 161st street. Dumbass.

Uncle Mike said...

"Especially baseball players" is a qualifier of the actual subject of the sentence you wrote, which is "More athletes." Since the reference to "161st Street" addressed the qualifier, not the subject, you have proven that at least one Met fan is NOT smarter than a 5th grader. Or a 5th starter, even if that 5th starter is Oliver Perez.

Look at the bright side: Thanks to LeBron James, you might be the biggest, to use your word, dumbass of the day, but not the most notable one.

Anonymous said...


The Yankers are a bunch of overpaid mercenaries who don't care about the game but only about themselves and their money.


Brien Jackson said...

"I can see the same thing happening to the Heat."

So, they'll have one of the best 5 year runs in the recent history of the sport, win the Eastern Conference 4 straight times, and get 3 consecutive NBA championships?

Really man, do you ever bother to re-read your posts or take a second to check them against, you know, reality?

Uncle Mike said...

Uh, yeah, I do check my posts. Do you? I was comparing the newly revamped Heat NOT to the 2000 to 2002 Lakers, but to the 2003-04 season's Lakers, who also tried the "supergroup" idea, and it crashed and burned. It took the Lakers an additional 5 years and a LOT of retooling to get back to the title. The LeWade Heat should be so fortunate.

This is what happens when people don't pay attention: They try to prove that someone isn't as smart as he thinks he is, but it turns out the someone is himself.

Anonymous said...

Really Mikey, you can see this happening? Did you look into your crystal ball and get a vision of the future? Please do me a favor, and look into your crystal ball and tell me what are the next set of winning lottery numbers. You are the old fool-osipher.

I'm not defending Mr. Jackson, I hope the Heat crash and burn, just because I do not like LeBron, he's an idiot who dissed his home state by going to the Indians playoff game a couple of years ago wearing the losers hat. What an idiot!

Brien Jackson said...

I was trying to be nice, but whatever. The comparison is just absurd; Malone and Payton were aging hall of famers well past their prime who took value deals to go to LA and try to win a ring. LA was a dynasty nearing the end of its run trying to squeeze another title or two out of their core, with their role players getting better deals and leaving. No one thought they were getting MVP Karl Malone, the hope was that he could be a useful PF filling a role next to Shaq. Whatever you think of the new Heat, clearly this isn't at all what they've done, which is to assemble 3 of the top 8-10 (and 2 of the top 3) players in the league in their primes on one team.

Anonymous said...

Brien, you can't be nice to a Yanker fan. All they know is what's droned into their feeble little minds by the "just say NO to YES network", aka brainwash central.

And this particular Yanker fan (Uncle M) is a smug, self-righteous, smartass who likes to shoot off his mouth and talk down to everyone on this blog. Loser!

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