It seems no longer that a player will stick it out for the team that drafted him, no longer will a player gut through the heartbreak of multiple playoff losses, and use that as motivation to get to the top.
This new school era, looks like it will take the easy way out.
LeBron James a back-to-back NBA MVP, did not want to gut it out with the Cavaliers, he decided that the time is now to go chase a ring.
Charles Barkley did it in Houston, Karl Malone, and Gary Payton with the Lakers, Kevin Garnett going to the Celtics. They all went to different franchises, with dominant superstars to chase a ring, but there is one difference.
Their best playing days were behind them, AKA they were out of their prime.
That’s why LeBron James teaming up with Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh was such a dynamic shift in the history of the league. This doesn’t happen, heck it never has. Dwayne Wade and LeBron James are the two best players in the league behind Kobe Bryant.
Chris Bosh isn’t too shabby either, a top 10 talent no doubt, and now they are all on the same team.
Maybe, this generation of superstars have got smarter. Rather, then wait it out, and possibly have to chase a ring at the end of their careers, they team up with the best the league has to offer earlier in their career, to almost guarantee a ring before its too late.
LeBron has seen the stigma attached to Barkley, Malone, and Stockton, and he doesn’t want that. But, what’s more honorable, figuring out a way to win it all with the team you have went to battle with the last 7 years. Or put your ego aside, and decide its time to go team up with other superstars to gain that ultimate prize.
Michael Jordan never would of done what LeBron did. “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team,’” Jordan said, on a NBC telecast.
Magic Johnson wouldn’t either, “We didn’t think about it ’cause that’s not what we were about,” Johnson said at Baruch College in New York, according to Bloomberg News. “From college, I was trying to figure out how to beat Larry Bird.”
66 wins in 08-09, 61 wins in 09-10. The best record in the NBA the last two years, and that wasn’t enough for the self proclaimed “King James”. Rather then say, we are really close, he said, its time to move on.
Now with the news of Chris Paul demanding a trade from New Orleans, and that he wants to play with another superstar. Preferably Kobe in LA, Amar’e in NY, or Dwight in Orlando, yet another player that will be a superstar for years to come has conceded that he can’t do it alone.
This is definitely a new school of thought, and may be the way superstars go about their careers from here on out.
Shaquille O’Neal came to LA in 1996 in his prime, only to win one game in the playoffs against the Utah Jazz, and lose 8 in back to back years, and then got swept in 1999 by the San Antonio Spurs.
That heartbreak, turned into a 3-peat 2000-2002. But, in this current era who knows? Maybe Shaq leaves the Lakers, and teams up with Tim Duncan.
Maybe the media is to blame, but it seems, if you don’t get a ring, that your career is meaningless. Much why, these guys in their prime are so anxious to do whatever it takes to get a ring. Even if that means hurting their respective legacy’s.
Even if the Big 3 win it all, it wont be as sweet. It wont have a terrific storyline, it will simply be that they have three great players that can lead a team by themselves, yet they decided to do it together.
If and when King James wins a ring, he will go down in history as a Champion, and will always have a ring on his finger to show for it.
Call me old school, but even if James wins one in the near future with the “Super Team”, i’ll still respect Reggie Miller, Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, and Charles Barkley more then LBJ.
They might not have rings, but true basketball fans know their influence on the game, how great they were, and more importantly how hard they battled to get a championship for their city.
It might be possible, but for now it seems in 20 years when someone mentions Lebron James I will remember him more for his lack of respect, and the way he chose to devastate the Cleveland Cavaliers fans, with “The Decision”, more then anything he does in Miami.
Oh and if the first three rings Kobe got “Don’t count” because he had Shaq. Whatever the amount The King may get down in South Beach…
They won’t count either.
David Brickley is a staff writer, and host of The Voice of the Nation podcast on TLN. You can view more of his work at davidjbrickley.com