LeBron must find that killer instinct in order to get back to the Finals
Michael Jordan. Kobe Bryant. Kevin Durant. LeBron James. Dwyane Wade.
One of these things is not like the other. These particular names were chosen as they are often the most closely associated with the name that doesn’t belong.
4 certified killers. 1 plug.
Warning: Due to having seen LeBron James play since high school, things happening in Year 15 don’t impress, excite, or dumbfound me. Many in the basketball world have been waiting for the superpowers to dim to see where his commitment level is. How hard he works to improve the IQ. Quite frankly? So far, good…
Now? It’s put up shut up time.
Going back to Saint Vincent, Saint Mary’s, LeBron James has struck me as a “people-pleaser.” Someone who is so caught up in the well-being of those parties around them that they forget about themselves. Hell, going through the worst of the worst now helps me appreciate it more than ever.
The most difficult hurdle of being a savior is that those you’re saving have to be ready, willing & able. Ask Jesus Christ.
At this point, being ready, willing & able falls on the coaching staff. Sure, LeBron orchestrated the blowing up of the team & has his stand-in appearing admirably absent-minded at all times. But that doesn’t mean that when things get bad you revert to throwing guise on to the floor for familiarity reason.
Great things come to those who embrace discomfort. JR Smith, Tristan Thompson, Kevin Love & Jose Calderon flanking LeBron James isn’t going to win a championship.
It might will not be enough to beat the Pacers but it’s definitely not going to beat Houston or Golden State. It’s not going to even get past Philly; can you imagine Joel in that series?
So why bother?
LeBron is the ultimate servant. The ultimate teammate. My disdain for James stemmed [mostly] from his stans making comparisons to players that play a completely different style than he does.
Kobe never studied where his teammates liked the ball because he practices making shots with bad passes, shouldn’t we all?
His Airness never had to celebrate a young fella being the only person doing the right things because he led by example & played in an era where jobs depended on following his lead.
With that being said: *climbs to the mountaintop & screams through megaphone*
LeBron James is a point guard.
Kyrie Irving wanted out of Cleveland because he was never going to be the voice of reason. He was never going to be able to put his stamp on the franchise. But most of all, he hasn’t been allowed to play his game the way he envisioned it. Even as someone who’s purposely avoided praising James because you all do it enough, the only reason ANYONE wouldn’t want to play with James is when his play started dipping into their bag.
It sounds wild but look at all three of his championship teams: filled with high caliber players who could all carry the load for stretches. Any time in his career that LBJ has been asked to lead & show up consistently, his teams have failed.
This team is built in that same manner. Lue, the stand-in, has been forced to learn on the fly but will have to earn his money in this series. Being afraid to grow with the game has & will continue to kill many, many careers, & if LBJ is going to go down in the first round & vociferously return to be the butt of my jokes, it should be at his natural position, allowing him to get others involved & play to his strengths late in the game.
A lineup of LeBron James, Rodney Hood, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love & Larry Nance adds enough youth to the lineup that it doesn’t put you in a hole to start the game & this lineup gives you the best chance of allowing LeBron James to continually drive downhill & make the best plays. James has smiled more at Osman this year than any teammate ever. Hood is a swiss army knife waiting to be unleashed. Larry Nance Jr’s athleticism & lob release threat ability have made him a favorite of mine even during my series on taking back the Lakers franchise. Oh yeah! This lineup also moves James out of Love’s normal spot & puts Love back to a place where he’s not being bullied by younger, stronger kids.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the coin, the Pacers have to be feeling great about where they are. Great teams always have six starters. For the entirety of the year, it’s been a constant mental tussle regarding shifting Sabonis to a 5, Turner to the 4 & how to address the issue of Bogdanovic vs. Thad Young as the fifth starter. Needless to say, that’s six.
The Pacers also have committed to a style of play, one that continually fostered confidence within the organization throughout the course of the year thus allowing for opportunities for guise to go out & flourish. Sabonis came into the league with a pro-ready skillset. Victor Oladipo has never stood on a wing & watched somebody else create shots for him in his life.
But when you’re blindly chasing wins as opposed to having any semblance of a plan, nothing you attempt will succeed. The only thing OKC knows is that Russ is going to get his. Maybe one day someone will remember basketball is a team sport. Hi PG13!
Needless to say, coaching is & has played a huge part in the journey thus far & that will only ratchet up as the end of the series approaches. Sure, players decide games but, in this series, more than any other, the right players haven’t really been on the floor for either side.
Nate McMillan & Tyronn Lue played in very different NBAs. Nate, the late 80s-early90s style basketball where winning meant you normally had a star that led the way & everyone followed. You could see remnants of that mindset lingering with the PG13 ordeal, but guise skillsets improve each day. Not only do they want to be featured & utilized but it makes everyone else’s job easier. Which helps keep a coach around longer. Shouts to growth. & Nate Mac for being open to change.
Lue, of the early aughts, is actually the one who got to experience the growth of the game & appreciate that the more talented guise on the floor are overall, the better it is for everyone. But then again, when you don’t want to or know that you’re going to be a head coach. You don’t really prepare for it. You don’t do your research. Learning on the fly in front of the world is hell. Ever heard of the Butterfly Effect?
Well, T. Lue knows the Sunken Place well, shouts to AI.
Never would’ve imagined he’d end up back there simply for being awed by the aura of one LBJ., But if you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready. Ben Simmons took two years off just to show Sixers brass he is a 6’10” point guard. Imagine if someone had thought outside of the box with this 6’8” prototype.