LeBron James Cannot Go to Miami
LeBron James is going to the Miami Heat, according to "all indications" from "several sources with knowledge of the situation," which sounds official enough to merit comment. In Miami, the King would team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, two super-duper-all-stars, to form the basketball equivalent of either the Avengers--an unstoppable combination of superhuman talent--or Them Crooked Vultures--a discordant, discombobulated attempt to blend egos and abilities.
If I had LeBron James' ear and he cared what I think (Full disclosure: I do not have LeBron James' ear. He does not care what I think), here are three reasons I would tell him to not go to Miami.
1. The Curse of the Supergroup.
Hey LeBron, do you listen to Them Crooked Vultures? Ha! Of course you don't. I'm guessing it's the same for Audioslave and Velvet Revolver. And like me, I'm sure you secretly hate the tune to "We Are the World."
Thing is, just as the music gods often spit upon supergroups, the sports gods do not look favorably upon unnatural collections of celebrities. When the Lakers added Gary Payton and Karl Malone to the three-time-championship duo of Shaq and Kobe for the 2003-2004 season, they got crushed in the Finals. When Alex Rodriguez left for the stacked Yankees, he was considered possibly the best player in baseball history. Now, despite his one ring, he's considered a glove-slapping, steroid-abusing lout.
The Curse of the Supergroup hovers above a James-Wade-Bosh team. After the Heat blow their cash on the trinity, they'll have pennies to afford the key roleplayers--the Robert Horrys, the Bruce Bowens, the Derek Fishers--who clinch championships. At worst, joining this supergroup will incur the full wrath of the gods. At best, you'll win less than expected and get a sliver of the credit.
2. The Legacy
LeBron, they call you King James. Here's the definition of King: "a male sovereign; ruler of a kingdom."
Miami won't be a kingdom. It will be a triumvirate, or more likely a duumvirate--had to look that one up--an alliance of two. You'll share the stage with Dwyane Wade, who's already won a title with the Heat by delivering the single best NBA Finals performance in league history. Great players like Hakeem and Magic and Kobe and Jordan all needed all-stars to win championships. But they needed complementary all-stars: players who spaced the floor and set up a winning inside-outside game. You're much bigger than Wade, but you both became great playing essentially the same offensive role: an occasional point guard and electrifying scorer who specializes in driving to the hoop, getting to the line, and creating space for perimeter shots. It's hard to see how playing together won't force one of you to change your game or else take a hit in the stat book.
3. The Game
There's something honorable about three superstar players taking small pay cuts for the chance to create a regular-season all-star team. But with the league's two best young players on the same team, we'll miss something awesome: the joy of seeing the league's two best young players playing each other. There's something sadly Bismarckian about forming an alliance with your best competition. I have nothing against realpolitick in the real world. In sports, however, I prefer war. And LeBron, if you want to be the King, you should have the courage to fight--for somebody else.