For a Big 3 to be successful, one guy has to make major sacrifices. LeBron’s titles are all marked by the power forwards that struggled and succeded with that concept. Chris Bosh and Kevin Love should write a book together, comparing notes on adjusting and succeeding as the third guy on a LeBron championship team.
The math is simple – LeBron and his perimeter co-star will handle the ball and play make, you be ready if both LeBron and Wade/Kyrie are covered, but we are not building an offense to adjust to you – you adjust to the offense we have built. On defense, be the anchor. Cover up the mistakes and control the paint. Oh yeah, on both ends of the floor – rebound.
When you are Chris Bosh or Kevin Love, multiple All-Star who was the undisputed no.1 option on your team, that’s a hard adjustment to make. You know you could do much more, and will constantly be criticized you don’t do enough. Stuff like “We know what LeBron and Kyrie will do, but if Kevin Love plays well, the Cavs will win a title.” With all that pressure and stress, you don’t need your teammates to tweet at you.
LeBron being passive-aggressive is something his teammates have to learn to live with. If all superstar players have a little bit of diva in them, this is when it comes out with LeBron James. He thinks about his legacy and reputation so much that media narratives are important to him, and he knows how to craft them. But it comes at a cost when you don’t talk to your teammates but tweet about them.
“I think on one end it was extremely passive-aggressive and silly. But at the same time, I feel like I did have to find my way and fit in. But it wasn’t an easy process for me.”Kevin Love for The Athletic
We hear so much about LeBron’s basketball IQ, the millions he invests in his body every year, the cryo-chambers, sleeping apps, and mental exercises that there is no doubt every aspect of his career has been optimized. That’s some NASA level of attention to detail. It couldn’t possibly be that a man who does all that to win a championship doesn’t talk to a teammate he asks most to sacrifice, but tweets at him, right?
“All I wanted was a little bit of love. All I wanted was (a pat on the back, an arm around the shoulder). I never got that. I think I just wanted a little bit of love. Not even notoriety, just an acknowledgment of, ‘Hey, listen, we know that you’re sacrificing.‘”Kevin Love for The Athletic
Love explained he didn’t need fame and media attention, just acknowledgment from his teammates that he is sacrificing the most. While everyone has to sacrifice for a championship-level team to succeed, some have to sacrifice more than others. It took a while for the Cavs to understand that. Love said he got it in the end, but the first few years were hard. He’s still on a text chain with teammates from the ’16 team, including LeBron who he loves “like a brother.” If the holiday season reminds us of something is that we love family, despite the fact they can be difficult to talk to. I guess basketball teams are the same that way.
One last thing that hit me while writing this article. Has there ever been a more difficult team to be the no.3 guy on than the 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers? All you need is “a pat on the back, an arm around the shoulder,” and all you get is LeBron tweeting and Kyrie being woke. I’m appreciating Kevin Love so much more now than I did back then.