You Don't Have To Like LeBron James But You Need to Respect Him
By most descriptions, Cleveland Cavaliers do-it-all LeBron James draws a huge spectrum of reactions for most Basketball fans.
You can't deny the talent and what he's accomplished--but a lot of people hold his actions against him.
We can sit here and debate for the next gazillion years about whether he's the Greatest of All Time, or a "Mount Rushmore" NBA guy or Top 5 or whatever you want to use to draw out a conversation.
None of you can deny he's one of the greatest to ever lace up the shoes....
James did on Sunday, something not every basketball player is capable of doing. He essentially willed his team to a win in Game 7 of a playoff series.
You can easily argue the Cavs are not a fully whole team and they likely are not an NBA title contender if for no other reason than they play in the NBA east.
And you can argue like many do "He hasn't won as many titles as Michael Jordan" and hey, you have a legit argument. But what you forget is Jordan---until he got the right supporting cast, couldn't win a title by himself either.
Not that he didn't try.
Sunday, James dropped 45 points, had 9 rebounds and 7 assists in a game where his team beat the valiant Indiana Pacers 105-101 to finish of Game 7 of a best of 7 series.
But the guy wins more often than not.
Cleveland does not have the horses--even if they beat Toronto in the 2nd round and may not have enough to beat the other two East teams: Boston or Philadelphia.
Even if they did, James at his best is not enough to beat the waves of talent the Warriors or Rockets can put on the floor.
But don't give me this shit about James not being a Top 5 all-time player. Like I said, you can argue the Jordan thing and he's in the same stratosphere as Wilt, Kareem, Bill Russell, Bird and Magic. He's arguably a better shooting, more athletic version of Johnson and just as clutch.
But Sports Talk needs the talk part and LeBron is perfect fodder for that. Watching what the guy is valiantly trying to do, soccer flopping like a dead fish or not, he still is the one guy who could at least in theory will his team into a shot at an NBA title.
So much chatter about him picking up and leaving Cleveland when his contract is up after the season. It may happen. It may not.
I don't think he's going anywhere because at this point it doesn't do anything to enhance his legacy. It waters it down. While the judgment used so many years ago when he left Cleveland for Miami was poor to put it mildly, James was also in his 20's and in peak physical prowess.
The 34-plus year old now is on the downside of his career. And while he can still do what he did in the Pacers series to carry or will his team to winning a series they probably shouldn't have, there aren't many more of those left in the tank.
The other argument is more succinct: Does James really want to leave somewhere where he is and will always be the big dog no matter what the age, to finish out his career fighting time and younger/stronger players to be the big dog somewhere else?
No, me either....