LeBron vs Super Teams

Much ado has been made about this year’s Golden State Warriors being a “Super Team”.  The noise has only gotten louder since they started man-handling LeBron and the Cavaliers in the finals.  All the Lebron lovers and complainers seem to have forgotten something: this is nothing new.

The NBA has always been about the super team.  Look, it’s simple math, there’s only five guys on the floor, it only takes one really good player to become dominant in the NBA, if you have two suddenly you’re a super team.

Did anyone say it was unfair when the Lakers put two of the top ten greatest player of all time together with Shaq and Kobe?  No, because it was the Lakers – and they had done it before with Magic and Kareem.  It seems less like stacking the deck because Los Angeles drafted Magic and Kobe, but Golden State drafted Curry so what’s the difference?  No one was saying we needed to change the league when the Bulls added Dennis Rodman – basketball’s most aggressive defender at the time – to a championship roster that already contained the greatest player of all time and his Hall-of-Fame sidekick.  This is just the way the league works.

jordan-pippen-rodman-01

Anyone remember when Batman and Robin teamed up with The Thing?

Golden State has been a force for several years partly because of Curry’s transcendent talent and partly because they played good team basketball.  They have pieces that fit well together, which is exactly how you’re supposed to build a team.  Putting a top talent like Durant on this squad certainly presents a challenge for the other teams but it is not unprecedented.  Durant’s old team had a similar embarrassment of riches, simply by drafting well, but chose to break up its power trio.  So why does he take heat for deciding to go to a team that is smart enough to keep talented players together? Many teams have had interest in Klay Thompson but the Warriors ignored them because they understood how well he fit their scheme. How is that considered un-sporting?

And let us not forget, this modern team building exercise was popularized by none other than King James himself.  Much of this anti-Warrior sentiment is being led by Bron-Bron apologists who are just looking for another excuse when he comes up short again.

If we should be complaining about anything, it’s how lopsided the conferences are – this Cavaliers team is Jim Kelly and the Bills. I keep hearing about LBJ’s amazing consecutive finals streak, but it wouldn’t exist if the eastern conference weren’t so pathetic.  How many times would LeBron have made the finals over the past 10 years if he had to face the Spurs in round one instead of Toronto or Orlando?  When was the last time James had to face anyone near his skill level in an Eastern playoff game? An aging KG in 2009? Check-cashing ‘Melo in 2012? But I’m supposed to feel sorry for him because a team that survives the Western slugfest is embarrassing the Cavaliers? You’ve been living the easy life so don’t whine about the gout hurting your feet.

LeBron-JimKelly

Where have I seen that look of frustration before?

Lebron has been playing in an inferior conference his entire career and he still had to join his own super team to win his first two Championships. Then when that team got old, he bailed and “went home” – what a coincidence that his alma mater just happened to have a rising star in Kyrie Irving. No one complained when the Cavs then bought in Kevin Love – the top free agent on the market – people applauded the move saying “LeBron Needs Help!”. Building not one but two super teams in a conference bereft of talent is OK for King James but some kind of sin for guys trying to succeed in the West?

Over all these years Lebron has been the only Eastern player with Hall-of-Fame potential, with the exception of aging stars like KG and Dwayne Wade, one of whom he had to team up with to defeat the other. Conversely, Durant has been butting heads with premiere talent year after year after year. Pick any season of the 21st century and at least 15 of the top 20 players reside in the West. KD has had to deal with not only Steph Curry and the Warriors but Duncan, Parker and Ginoblli on the Spurs, Dirk’s Mavs, CP4 and Blake doing Lob City, Nash’s Suns and lately his old co-hort James Harden doing a Sun’s 7-seconds-or-less rehash with D’Anoni in Houston. He’s even had to knuckle up for the final years of Kobe before retirement and Melo before he was banished to the Knicks. What has Bron had to contend with in the East that comes anywhere close to that?

Do the old flip-flop game here and what do you come up with? Travel back to 2010 and put LeBron out West and KD in the East – how many times does James make it to the finals? Does he even make it past round two more than once? Are we now talking about Durant winning the scoring title seven years in a row? If Russell Westbrook had friction playing with a laid-back KD, at what point does he sucker punch LeBron? What would Westbrook look like in the East? How about Steph raining threes on the Wizards in the semis? How much would the city of Detroit love Boogie Cousins after three or four playoff appearances? What if instead of being the odd-man-out, Harden got to take over the Bulls after Rose blows out his knee? I could play this game for days.

LeBron has been more than a big fish in a small pond, he’s been a Great White in a lagoon full full of stoned frat boys floating in inner tubes, meanwhile all the superstars out west have been chumming the water with each others guts. All James needs to make another finals trip is a competent supprting cast, but it takes a super team to rise above the competition playing in the Western Conference. Instead of complaining, just enjoy the magic of what Golden State has put together.

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