As of today, LeBron James has spent more time as an NBA player (6753 days) than not (6752 days). There is no doubt he is one of the two greatest athletes ever to play the game, but one would think that with over 18 years of experience, LeGM would figure out how to construct a team that is poised to win games. Not just erratic piles of past their prime players and free agent mistakes with no obvious thought of how styles complement each other - and I’m not just talking this year’s Lakers.
Everyone thinks they can do their job better than their boss, and with LeBron’s first 7 seasons in Cleveland, the bar wasn’t set too high. Incompetent managers, multiple coaches, laughable scouts, and an owner who waited less than a few hours to publicly bash the franchise’s greatest star after his first departure. Why wouldn’t LeBron think he could do a better job at running a team? Isn’t that what LeBron does, fills in the gaps for what the team needs?
His first season of legitimate contractual power came during his final ’10 campaign out of fear of him inevitably jumping ship. LeBron wanted a big and brought in Shaquille O’Neal like how he wanted a wing and found Antawn Jamison. Although Jamison had his moments, neither trade was exactly a sign of LeGM displaying a gift for things to come. Instead, their youth was ransacked for a last hoorah with a still-to-be ringless LeBron.
He then obviously joins the Miami Heat with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh, two players that just received MVP votes the season earlier, forming the vilified and highly favorited Heatles. But with such immense talent, the first rule of the plower empowerment era was taught by the hands of Dirk Nowitzki and Tim Duncan. That having the most talent on paper does not necessarily equate to winning basketball.
LeBron and Wade, although fabulous, were an ill-thought-out combination of style. Now, of course, you make that move a million times out of a million if you are Pat Riley. It’s not rocket science whey they linked up. But for LeBron, the fit was always messy. Two ball-dominant players who consumed point guard duties before the pairing led to an unnatural dynamic that was spotlighted and exploited in the ’11 Finals.
But hey, thank God for Ray Allen…
Strangely enough, the second Cleveland run broke off in steam at an identical rate LeBron James interjected with proceedings. Kyrie, Love, and LeBron - that was the selling point. But while Love was LeGM’s doing, his value shrunk smaller than to be expected with his depleted role. Love was converted into a silky perimeter shooter - he was always a more natural inside player with an elite outlet pass stored in his arsenal during his prime time in Minnesota. Again it did in fact work even if it required unselfishness on levels that were off the charts, so props to LeGM. Too bad once Kyrie left, everything LeGM did was a failure.
For what we can only expect was complete control, the tradings of Isaiah Thomas, Dwayne Wade, George Hill, Rodney Hood, and many more along with the signings of Derrick Rose, Jose Calderon, Kendrick Perkins, and another five sheets of transactions - made the ’18 season look like an elimination reality TV series rather than a basketball team. Without going into too much detail on this, every single move on Cleveland’s behalf was completely detrimental as they are only just getting past it now.
Now in Tinsel town, LeBron traded away every young guy and coach and made his biggest splash with Anthony Davis. This worked. Under an irregular bubble environment and against some forgettable competition. But it worked. Now just like in Cleveland part II, LeBron’s latest moves would get any GM fired within a month. The signing of Westbrook has been a complete bomb while Caruso, KCP, Harrall, Kuzma are all reaching career highs. The Lakers now have the oldest team in the league and would’ve been the third oldest team in league history if they secured a championship. They will be lucky to make the Conference Finals.
It’s been great watching LeBron play basketball at an elite level for nearly two full decades. It shouldn’t surprise anyone why he has that power within an organization. It just surprises me he can’t get the hang of it. Teams don’t just collapse into the lottery when he leaves because of how great he is and what he is carrying; they also do it because of how horrible LeGM really is.