What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
Dubsism has been on the web since 2009. My fandom of the Los Angeles Lakers predates that by more years than I’d care to consider. As such, you can by searching the tag cloud, the Lakers are a frequent topic for my bloggery. There’s a bit of “Alanis Morrisette”-style irony in the fact that over the last decade, the Lakers have undergone a decline and fall not seen since the Carthaginians during the Punic Wars. One day, you’re Hannibal crossing the NBA Alps and laying waste to Roman legions; the next the Romans are getting even and Hannibal doesn’t the draft picks needed to get some new elephants.
A worse subject of discussion over the better part of the last decade are the escapades of LeBron James. Again, it’s not a state secret that I’ve been a critic of the man I’ve referred to as “LeBalding” or “LeBitch” on multiple occasions. You could go back through the tag cloud and find every time I’ve said something harsh about “LeBitch” and conclude those would be the underpinnings of why the photo below is my basketball nightmare.
But doing that ignores some serious basketball reasons why I as a Lakers fan believe a root canal with no anesthetic would be less painful than seeing “LeBitch” in purple and gold.
1) Signing LeBron James Doesn’t Make Sense For The Lakers
Right up front, let’s get what the “LeBron-o-philes” will tout as “pure heresy” out of the way. If you took every GM in the NBA and told them they can have any single player in the league around which to build a franchise, I would bet you almost NONE of them say “LeBron.” There’s a simple reason for that. Building a franchise to be a winner over the long-term is not a short process.
If you’re a true NBA fan, then you should already know about the Philadelphia 76ers and the whole “trust the process” thing. In other words, the Sixers understood that rebuilding a franchise so damaged it would eventually bottom out in a ten-win season isn’t going to happen overnight. You can point out that bottom was only two years ago and this year saw the Sixers notching 52 wins and taking down their first play-off series in six seasons. The phrase “trust the process” became the mantra during those dark days in 2016, but the process started long before that.
“Trust the process” is just the NBA’s way of saying “it is always darkest before the dawn.” Former Laker Girl Paula Abdul once had an ear-worm called “Promise of a New Day;” and for the Sixers, that promise is dawning now. But for the Lakers, I’m not sure we’ve seen the nadir of the darkness. Sure, the same season in which the Sixers bottomed out with ten wins saw the Lakers only notch seventeen. The difference is the Lakers clearly didn’t have a “process” then, and I’m not sure they have one now. In the absence of such a “process,” tying up resources in a short-term, high-buck free agent…one you’ll also have to re-tool the offense around which will run the risk of impeding the development of Lonzo Ball as an emerging star…just doesn’t make sense.
2) It Doesn’t Make Sense For LeBron Either
The whole reason the world is ablaze with the “LeBron is leaving Cleveland” chatter is actually pretty clear. LeBron wants to snag a few late-career championships, and we’ve all seen three times now the Cavaliers can’t beat the Golden State Warriors when they have a healthy Steph Curry. So, LeBron firing up his Uber app for a lift to the Cleveland airport is perfectly understandable.
The problems kick in when one considers where LeBron’s plane goes once the wheels are off the ground. It really doesn’t matter which team that calls the Staples Center home you wish to consider, both the Clippers and the Lakers are squads with a lesser talent level than the current Cavaliers, who we’ve already established can’t beat the Warriors. Not only that, but both those teams would have to play Golden State four times during the regular season, but would also face those Warriors in an earlier round of the play-offs…that is if they can get past the Rockets and the Spurs.
3) LeBron Cannot Be The Future
Even the most ardent “LeBron-o-phile” can’t argue with the fact he is a high-mileage car (remember that theme…it’s not the last time you’re going to see it here). He’s turns 34 later this year, and he’s heading into his 16th NBA season. Even though he’s been fortunate enough to avoid major injuries, in the immortal words of Charles Barkley, “Father Time” is undefeated. If you look at the Los Angeles Lakers today, they are a long way from being championship-ready; anybody being intellectually honest will tell you rebuilding the Lakers to their “flagship” status Jim Buss destroyed is going to take time. In Philadelphia, “the process” took five years, and that was after they decided to implement it. LeBron just doesn’t have that much sand left in the hourglass.
4) LeBron James Will Not Be The Lakers’ Savior
Time for more so-called “heresy.” LeBron James can’t make a team into a winner by himself. If he could, then LeBron-led teams wouldn’t have a 3-6 record in the NBA Finals. The reason for this is also pretty simple. It used to be true that LeBron James was the best player in the NBA; it’s been a myth for a while. The “LeBron-o-philes” will point to the fact he still posts gaudy numbers as an indicator of his greatness; that discussion hides the fact the current incarnation of the Cavaliers have little but LeBron.
I’ve already mentioned the whole reason why this conversation exists is LeBron James wants to win more championships. It’s clear that’s not happening in Cleveland. I’ve also already mentioned the current Cavaliers sans LeBron are a better team than the Lakers are right now. So why does any Laker fan think LeBron James will take the purple and gold back to the top of the NBA mountain?
He can’t. All he can do is make the Lakers a team which loses to the Warriors or the Rockets in the play-offs. Given the advantages this team has, no Laker fan should be settling for that. The Lakers have a ton of room under the salary cap. The Lakers have more followers on social media than any other non-soccer franchise on earth. Los Angeles is the media capital of the world, which expands the endorsement/publicity/post-career job in broadcasting possibilities by orders of magnitude. That’s why despite the recent won/loss records, the Los Angeles Lakers are the NBA’s bell-cow, the goal cannot be simply making the play-offs. As the NBA’s original dynasty, since their inception in Minneapolis, the goal for the Lakers has been winning championships.
5) There’s No Way A LeBron James – Jeannie Buss Relationship Works
No one is willing to admit this, but it’s infinitely clear that in Cleveland, LeBron James has grown accustomed to wielding a level of power previously unseen by a player. It might be one of the world’s worst-kept secrets that LeBron James played a role in the hiring and subsequent firing of Cavalier head coach David Blatt, and it might as well be common knowledge the fate of current coach Tyronn Lue rests in LeBron’s hands… if he continues in Cleveland.
I have all the respect in the world for Lakers controlling owner and team president Jeanie Buss. I often wonder why her name doesn’t come up more often when we discuss successful women in American business. That notwithstanding, she became the unquestioned ruler of Laker Nation when she staged a palace coup d’état wresting control away of the team away from her brother Jim and subsequently exiling him to the NBA version of Elba.
Short of Wal-Mart, the Los Angeles Lakers are the world’s most successful family business, and Jeanie Buss sits at the head of the table. Considering what she’s gone through to get there, ti doesn’t seem very likely she would be willing to hand the keys to a short-term hired hand.
6) “End-Of-Career” LeBron Is A Ticking Time-Bomb
DISCLAIMER: If you are a LeBron-o-phile, if you read past this point, you may want to wrap several layers of duct tape around your heap to prevent this from happening, because there’s some ugly realities coming you aren’t going to like.
First of all, let’s go back to that “high-mileage car” thing. As I’ve already said, LeBron is heading into his 16th NBA season, which means he’s only got a few left…and let’s be honest, there’s a couple of points which need to be considered as to why he is still playing at a high level this late in his career.
You can’t tell me that he doesn’t get a heaping helping of “friendly calls from the refs. I understand that the “stars” preferential treatment; that’s how life in and out of sports works. But it LeBitch’s sense of entitlement which chaps my ass; when he doesn’t get a call, he goes full cry-baby, or worse yet he becomes a flop-artist on a scale not seen this side of Duke or European soccer.
Take a look at this video. It’s a few years old, but it’s vintage LeBron.
You could make this video from pretty much any play-off win in this guy’s career, and it really speaks for itself in terms of blatant disregard for the rules of the game. But what isn’t as clear is something nobody ever talks about. Look at his body in that video and compare it to what he looks like now.
I have a long record of saying I don’t care about the steroid issue in baseball, but I’ve always wondered why the PED moralists who assailed baseball have never said a word about the NBA? to be fair, LeBron isn’t the only guy I’ve been suspicious of (Dwight Howard, anybody?). The problem with guys on the juice is when they break down, it happens quick and decisively, and even if they recover, they are never the same. In fact, look at Dwight Howard’s’ time with the Lakers. Don’t be the guy who simply quotes me the “official” story about his “bad back” unless you are willing to entertain alternate plausible possibilities…like you have to be willing to consider that a guy built like an action figure with a receding hairline may not be getting that body through diet and exercise alone.
An old-school “gearhead” buddy of mine made the following analogy. Steroids in athletes are like putting a nitrous-oxide booster in a race car. You make that care do astronomical things over a short distance, but if you go to hard or to long…once that engine blows, there’s no rebuilding it.
And that;s exactly the problem here. Boosted or not, the theme is LeBron is a “high-mileage” car…and a used one at that. The Lakers don’t need to settle for a Mercedes with 200,000 miles on it. They can afford a McLaren 570S…more than one.