Speak out: Miami will still be a strong team without LeBron

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Atty. Eleodoro L. Diaz IV

IT WAS in 2003 when the Cleveland Cavaliers drafted LeBron James as the NBA’s No. 1 pick. He was way ahead of Chris Bosh, No. 4 to the Toronto Raptors, and Dwyane Wade, No. 5 to the Miami Heat. As the regular season began, James started like a high-caliber machine and, reminiscent of what Michael Jordan did for the Chicago Bulls, he brought the NBA back to life.

However, for seven years in Cleveland, James reached the NBA Finals only once: when Tim Duncan’s San Antonio Spurs swept the Cleveland Cavaliers, 4-0, in 2007.


In 2010, James decided to “bring his talent to South Beach” and joined fWade and Bosh to form the Big 3 in Miami. In the Heat’s welcome party with top executives and fans, James boldly declared his promise to bring “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championships; his words creating uproar among the thousands of Heat fans.

Indeed in 2010, James seemed destined to fulfill that promise when he brought the Heat to the NBA Finals, but they lost to the Dallas Mavericks. In 2012, James took his first championship when the Heat defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder, and in 2013, he took his second title when they beat the Spurs in a thrilling Game 7. However, in the 2014 NBA Finals, the San Antonio Spurs dethroned them, 4-1.

In Pat Riley’s press conference after the devastating loss, he promised to retool the team. At first, my confidence was high on Riley in bringing the team together to fight for another eight to 10 years but LeBron left.

I am a loyal Heat fan for life, LeBron or no LeBron. However, I was disappointed by LeBron’s choice of Cleveland over the Heat. True, he could have only been exercising the early termination clause in his contract, but I do not see the logic behind his sudden desire to return home as the team owner and fans have already treated him like a traitor by burning his jersey. In contrast, the Heat fans loved him. Moreover, I was upset when he described his playing years with the Heat as somewhat like that of playing basketball as a college kid.

Yes, James became a better person on and off the court with the Heat, but comparing the whole experience to playing basketball in college is just outrageous. If he feels that way about Miami, Cleveland could only be worse. There, he will be playing with teammates who have failed to qualify for the playoffs and have one of the worst NBA regular season records. If Miami is like college, then Cleveland sounds like elementary to me.

So why did James sign a two-year deal with them?

James has two championship rings with the Heat, while Michael Jordan had six with the Chicago Bulls. As the greatest player today, you would think that LeBron is aiming to surpass MJ’s Legacy by working his way to the top with a team that is sure to lead him to another championship. But in my opinion, Cleveland will not be that team. With their current line-up, it is hard to believe that Cleveland will be able to make it to the NBA Finals or even the Eastern Conference Finals, what with the other teams on the East also showing good improvements.

So come to think of it, if winning another championship seems impossible to do with Cleveland, why then did James switch teams? It’s every player’s dream to win multiple NBA championships. That dream transcends even monetary consideration. I may be speculating but I’m not convinced that wanting to play for his hometown is his main reason for returning to Cleveland. So what could it be? You can take a guess and I know yours is as just as good.

Notable NBA players who played not with their home states but won multiple championships include MJ (North Carolina) for the Chicago Bulls, Larry Bird (Indiana) for Boston Celtics, Isaiah Thomas (Chicago) for Detroit Pistons and Kareem Abdul Jabbar (New York) for Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers. These great players played for their respective NBA teams for several years out of sheer loyalty.

What happens now to his promise to bring “not one, not two, not three, not four, not five, not six, not seven” championshipsto the Heat? Had it been under oath, he would have been guilty of perjury!

For me, playing loyally for one team should have been the primary consideration of LeBron. Yes, he led the Heat to back-to-back titles, but one thing is sure: he didn’t do it alone. Miami brought him the NBA Finals MVP award along with other individual accolades. Staying with them should have been the best way to cement his legacy of being the greatest of all time. But I think there are just some other things that matter more than loyalty and legacy at the moment. I am disappointed at LeBron’s decision.

Nevertheless, I wish him the best of luck on his return journey with Cleveland as the Heat carries on to maintain its reputation as a championship caliber NBA team without him.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on July 28, 2014.


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