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May. 14 2010 - 1:58 pm | 1,219 views | 0 recommendations | 15 comments

Why the Knicks should say ‘No’ to LeBron

Larry Bird. Magic Johnson. Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. Those are the capital-G Great players I have seen in my lifetime. One week ago, LeBron James was right there with them. But now, after folding meekly to the Celtics, he’s off my list forever. If the New York Knicks are smart they’ll scratch him off theirs too.

The different between a Great player and a great one is not talent. It’s not the ability to hang in the air a second longer or make a pass that no one else thought possible. It’s about obsession. It’s about a dogged, insane, borderline pathological obsession with winning. You don’t care what the game is, who it’s against, and who you’ve got on your side – you just know you’re winning that damn game. Larry and Magic had that. Michael Jordan was so obsessed with it that he chased victory all the way to baseball and high stakes gambling. Kobe Bryant hasn’t met a thing yet he didn’t try to beat – including a rape conviction. (BOOM) But LeBron, as we now know, doesn’t care all that much. Here’s “King James” after a devastating loss at home to the Celtics in game 5.

Woooow. Tough talk! That’s the level of anger I normally associate with the delivery guy forgetting to put my soda in the bag. “Wait, where’s my Diet Coke? I thought I ordered a Diet Coke. Oh well, I’ll just have water…” No ire, no humiliation, no calling his teammates out — nothing. If that had been Larry Bird up there, someone on his team would’ve been called a pansy and the word “pathetic” would’ve been uttered more than once. To describe himself, or his coach, or even his mother if he felt like. Which doesn’t make Larry Bird nice or endearing or even particularly likable, but it does make him Great. If the Knicks want to rebuild their franchise, they have to wait for Great.

"I'll kill you." "Not if I kill you first."

The last thing you want on your team is an excellent player who can’t (or won’t) do it in the clutch. You build your team around them, you blow up your payroll for them, you place your future at their feet. And they don’t win you a god-damned thing. They’ll get you close. You’ll be right on the verge of the championship, tasting the champagne, and then they’ll fold. They’ll miss the last shot or turn the ball over because when it comes it down to it, they don’t care about the game all that much. It won’t keep them up at night. That was the LeBron we saw last night in Boston, and the LeBron the Knicks would see for the next eight years if he came to New York. And frankly, it’s more fun to just be bad. To have a team that just stinks it up night after night, wins thirty games, and let’s you go on about our life. You can’t get invested in that, so you can’t get hurt. But LeBron will break your heart. Like Karl Malone, or Alex Rodriguez, or the old Buffalo Bills. I’m sure his outlook is a much healthier one. You shouldn’t care that much about a game. But this isn’t about mental health, it’s about basketball. And I want a winner.

You think I’m exaggerating. You think LeBron still has it in him, and the Knicks would be crazy not to sign him up. Well just ask the 50,000 people in Cleveland who watched him in game 5; ask them how much fun the King James era has been. If you can get them to stop booing. Don’t do it New York, you’ll regret every minute.


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  1. collapse expand

    Can’t disagree more. It took Jordan until he was 28 (3 years older than Lebron), and MJ had Scottie Pippen by his side.

    This “that guy can’t win a championship” idea has always been baloney. In the NFL, Elway was dogged with that….before winning back-to-back.

    Will Lebron ever enforce an MJ-like dominance over his foes? No. Can he lead NY to a championship? Yes, because he’s a superior talent.

    • collapse expand

      Here’s the difference: Jordan didn’t have the best team in the league for two years before he won that championship. LeBron did. When Jordan’s teams were first getting really good, they had to contend with the bad boy Pistons teams, so they failed advance out of the Eastern Conf Finals twice. Who has Lebron had to contend with exactly? The Magic? A very good but beatable Celtics team this year? Come on.

      LeBron showed no fight in Game 5 or 6. That’s got ARod written all over it. Can they eventually win with him? Sure if they got other really good players to take those big shots. But I’d much rather spend my money on Dwayne Wade – more complete, more heart.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  2. collapse expand

    Exactly. Here’s what I’m saying, Graham. You are signing up to be the Minnesota Timberwolves circa 2003. You will have one amazing superstar who can’t take you far enough. Because he’s not quite good enough. You’ll try for five years, fail, and then either get really lucky and come upon two other superstars in trades and win a championship or trade LeBron off to the team that will. Minnesota thought KG was enough, but they had no way of knowing. The Knicks now know for certain that Lebron isn’t enough, and to acquire him anyway is foolish.

    If you can get him and equivalents to the 2007 versions of Ray Allen and Paul Pierce and a strong bench, go for it. Otherwise, I’d look elsewhere.

  3. collapse expand

    I don’t want the Knicks to sign LeBron either, but that’s because I’m a Celtics fan and would hate to see some crazy LeBron, Bosh super team in the same division. He put up a stinker in Game 5, but played well enough to win in Game 6 and really the rest of the series, his coach and teammates were pretty atrocious. Rajon Rondo made Mo Williams his bitch all series, Shaq looked like he’d rather be at Burger King, and I’m pretty sure Mike Brown was in the locker room typing up his resume.

    Keep in mind that Kobe had a terrible run of postseason appearances up until Chris Wallace handed the Lakers Pau Gasol. It’s pretty clear that to win a championship you need at least two star level players: Bird had McHale and Parrish, Magi had Kareem and Worthy, Jordan had Pippen, Kobe had Shaq and now Gasol. LeBron has had Mo Williams, that simply isn’t enough for anyone to win a championship with, the fact that he’s gotten this far is pretty amazing. If he signs with Bulls and they also go out and get Bosh: Rose, LeBron, Bosh, Noah, and 2-guard X is a pretty scary starting 5.

  4. collapse expand

    James will never be a Great player because he seems to actually have some personal control? Really?

    • collapse expand

      In my opinion, yes. Were not talking about Great people, we’re talking about Great players. Of the 4 I mentioned – Bird, Jordan, Kobe, Magic, only 1 was adored by his teammates. Magic. The rest were admired and tolerated but also feared and avoided. nice, responsible, personal control – those things get in the way of winning.

      Not saying I recommend this as a lifestyle, just giving it a name.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    So, Brian, who is capital G Great on the Celtics? Nevertheless, I agree with you about the Lebron interview clip you showed. What’s with the lack of eye contact, and what is he doing with his ear? Even Tiger Woods, for all his faults (or should I say bogeys), gives a good interview: no sense of humor, but at least he connects with the TV audience. If Lebron is going to come to NY, he better take some acting lessons, or a college public speaking course, first.

    • collapse expand

      None of them are, Mandes. That’s why you needed 3 little g greats to win the first title, and if they do it again you could argue they have 4 (Rondo). They all tried to will their previous teams to championships on their own and failed. The belief has been that Lebron is not at the level of the KGs, PPs, and Ray Allens of the world – that he is at another strata entirely. I think after this week we can disagree.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        LeBron is not yet a closer at the elite level but he is the best option. The other max guys aren’t closers either with the exception of Wade. But Wade is 27, he’s had several big injuries, the way he throws his body around he’s bound to miss plenty of games. Five years from now Wade might not be elite, LeBron will be. LeBron isn’t the greatest player ever, but if they’re all the same price then he’s the best option.

        Also I’d just like to point out how bad Cavs are. Mo Williams can find his own shot but his percentages aren’t great and his defense isn’t good. Jamison is still capable but at 33 isn’t in his prime. Other starters O’neal and Parker are 38 and 34. West is supposed to be a good defender but he really isn’t, his man escapes from him all the time. Varejao is scrappy but has little skill. Hickson is the only young player showing any promise. Honestly without LeBron this would be a 25 win team. He would be stupid not to leave.

        By the Allstar break next season Gallo will be better than anyone else on the Cavs.

        In response to another comment. See in context »
  6. collapse expand

    Oh, LeBron! I feel a little sorry for LeBron. Her’s my $1.05. No freedom for me today…

    couple years back a friend tells me the celtics are doing well. I hadn’t watched NBA in some time and I figured, what the hell, give myself some ammo when I am talking to real men. Ya know, dudes think yer gay if you don’t know sports. Now don’t get me wrong – I used to play bball OCD style in my teens. Which happened to also be the years when Jordan was eclipsing the Bird/Magic dynasty – i.e. I watched basketball during the Jordan years. Even those failures to the Pistons. I shan’t be seeing better basketball.

    While it did take Jordan a while, and we all held onto our Larry Birds and Magic Johnsons, Jordan eventually forced us to let go of them and acknowledge him as the greatest. It did happen.

    Since then, everybody is looking for the next Jordan. Just like Christians are looking for the second coming, Buddhists and their reincarnations, sports fans are looking for their next coming. LeBron has all this pressure and hype to live up to all of the talk. And it’s prolly just not fair. What you are seeing in that interview after game 5 is all the years of hype dissolving into humility.

    LeBron had 1 Jordanesque game in that series. They were lucky to win the other game they won. I don’t watch the regular season, for various reasons, and I really have no idea how the Cavs build such great records. I do know this…

    I did watch the Magic kick their ass last year and was pretty confident that a healthy Celtics team could do it this year. And they did. Basketball is a team sport and one that takes at least a second player who can help out. Jordan had Pippen and NEEDED him to win his rings.

    If LeBron does want to win, he has to find his Pippen. He has a chance now as a free agent to make that choice and follow some player, or maybe a coach, that he thinks will be the one. I’m not sure if he will end up like Karl Malone (who I rooted for for many years, and was a perennial disappointment). I sense a bit more in LeBron than Malone. I guess we’ll see.

    And frankly, people are just underestimating the Celtics right now. They are a DAMN good team, and one that can trade off heroics among 3, 4, or more players. Offensively this is very frustrating for other teams in that they can’t just try 1 strategy to shut them down. Kobe is lucky that Garnett was out last year or he would not have gotten that extra ring.

    Leave Britney Alone! Ha Ha. I do feel sorry for LeBron, but mostly that he is playing in an era where the endless hype machine has surrounded him. And maybe he drank some of the kool-aid himself.

  7. collapse expand

    Brian flippin Donovan, you are possibly the most asinine person ON THE FKING PLANET. You really just spew nonsense about sports and couldn’t be more clueless. You are ready to write the ship on one of the most dominant players in NBA history… sure Kobe is more basketball talented and no one will argue that. I just dont understand your retarded logic…. THE MAN IS 25 YEARS OLD AND HAS NEVER PLAYED WITH ANOTHER GOOD PLAYER. Antwan Jamison, Moe Williams, washed up Shaq, D west, Big Z… the list goes on. Not one of these players has ever stepped up (besides Shaq of course) they are regular season players… Lebron has always been on a regular season team. I just cant fathom your stupidity. You should just quit writing about sports and do us all a favor.

  8. collapse expand

    LOL… did u really delete my comments… youre a joke.

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    About Me

    Twitter: @b_donovan

    I am a writer, actor, and North Korean Dictator. Over the years though I've written for everything from Late Night with Jimmy Fallon to Fox News to Chapelle's Show, and can be seen frequently on Vh1 making snide remarks at the expense of others. Recently I was the Head Writer of "Fair Game", a news and comedy show from Public Radio International. My interests range from news to sports to entertainment, so this blog should read kinda like the evening news, except funnier and with less Brian Williams. Fuck Brian Williams.

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    Location:Brooklyn, NY