MJ and Barkley were right, but....

I hate covering topics that have already been overanalyzed on the net because more often then not, the opinion that I have formed and choose to share might have already been brought up by someone. I have yet to hear anyone point out what I’m about to say with regards to Michael Jordan’s comments on LeBron James heading over to Miami. I feel as though MJ missed as well as Charles Barkley missed three points in their reactions on James; here they are…..

I. The Superfriends Angle
Michael said that although he understood LeBron’s choice, he never would have chosen the same path because he wanted to beat the likes of Magic and Bird.  It’s a great point and all but MJ is a bit off in his response: Magic and Bird are arguably five of the best basketball players to have ever played the game and had already established their legacies; hence I can understand his distaste at the mere thought of joining forces with them to win titles. He truly wanted to beat the guys that were the best in the game at the time and I respect that. Mind you, the equivalent of  what MJ is saying in today’s world would be to join forces with Kobe Bryant or Tim Duncan; not Wade and Bosh.

Kobe Bryant and Tim Duncan have carved out great NBA careers and are collectively proud owners of nine championship rings. Hence, when Jordan says that joining up with Wade and Bosh it would have been like him calling Larry and Magic, he’s off by a few miles there.

II. History
If history in the NBA has taught us anything, it’s that winning an NBA title is not an individual accomplishment. It’s easy to look at the Los Angeles Lakers and say that they are back to back champions today because Kobe Bryant got them there; but the truth is that Kobe’s Lakers could not get out of the first round until they got Pau Gasol. Indeed, ever since he touched town in Hollywood, the Lakers have made three straight Finals appearances.

In the grand scheme of things, a superstar that is accompanied by a great or semi-great teammate faces a much easier task than a superstar who is surrounded by average or just above average teammates. Have a quick look at the All-NBA players that played on the past 20 championship teams:

2010 Los Angeles Lakers: K. Bryant (1st team) & P. Gasol (3rd team)
2009 Los Angeles Lakers: K. Bryant (1st team) & P. Gasol (3rd team)
2008 Boston Celtics: K. Garnett (1st team) & P. Pierce (3rd team)
2007 San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (1st team)
2006 Miami Heat: S. O’Neal (1st team) & D. Wade (2nd team)
2005 San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (1st team)
2004 Detroit Pistons: Ben Wallace (2nd team)
2003 San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (1st team)
2002  L.A. Lakers: K. Bryant (1st team) S. O’Neal (1st team)
2001 L.A. Lakers: S. O’Neal (1st team) & K. Bryant (2nd team)
2000 L.A. Lakers: S. O’Neal (1st team) & K. Bryant (2nd team)
1999 San Antonio Spurs: Tim Duncan (1st team)
1998 Chicago Bulls: M. Jordan (1st team) & S. Pippen (3rd team)
1997 Chicago Bulls: M. Jordan (1st team) & S. Pippen (2nd team)
1996 Chicago Bulls: M. Jordan (1st team) & S. Pippen (1st team)
1995 Houston Rockets: H. Olajuwon (1st team) & C.Drexler (1st team)
1994 Houston Rockets: Hakeem Olajuwon (1st team)
1993 Chicago Bulls: M. Jordan (1st team) &S.  Pippen (3rd team)
1992 Chicago Bulls: M. Jordan (1st team) & Pippen (2nd team)
1991 Chicago Bulls: Michael Jordan (1st team)

After reviewing the list, it’s fairly obvious that for the most part you need to have two elite players (unless your name is Tim Duncan) on your team to win a title in the NBA. The former Cavs star realized that the odds of getting such a teammate were slim and ended up doing the math which resulted in going to a destination that had a superstar waiting for him in Dwyane Wade and a legit big man in Chris Bosh. Instead of fighting against history for what may or may not happen, James put his future in his own hands and got himself some help as opposed to waiting for a general manager to find him some.

III. Legacy
Charles Barkley made the statement that LeBron James’ legacy would be tainted because he took the “easy way out” by joining a team with an already established star in Dwyane Wade and a legit big man in Chris Bosh (let’s be real, Bosh isn’t a star).  This is the same guy that got himself traded from Philadelphia to Phoenix to join a team with an All-Star shooting guard (Dan Majerle) and one of the best point guards of his generation (Kevin Johnson).  

Do we view Barkley’s move the same? Obviously not. He never actually mentioned it when asked about James’ defection; but the move is somewhat similar. Barkley grew tired of carrying his 76ers team and therefore wanted out and got his wish when he arrived to a Phoenix team that had better help than what he had gotten in the past. Did that move hurt Barkley’s legacy? On the contrary, it enhanced it. Our favorite TNT analyst captured the 1993 MVP trophy and had a series of monster games (Game 7 of Western Conference Finals Vs Seattle: 44 points, 24 rebounds; Game 2 of NBA Finals Vs Chicago: 42 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists) in the playoffs that some of us still remember today. We feel that the Chuckster gave it his all despite not winning a title, and such is his legacy.

As it pertains to LeBron James’ legacy, it’s too early to tell what it will be by the time his career ends, but as it stands right now his legacy is that of perhaps the best active player without a championship next to his name. He has amassed some gaudy numbers throughout his career but has yet been able to win a title. The self titled King James is like the Playa Hater who has dropped the most hate on people every year but that cannot win the ever so precious Playa Hater of The Year Award. Until he wins a title, that will be his legacy. It is however subject to change based on his future accomplishments; even if he had to team up with other player haters such as Silky Johnston (played by Dave Chappelle) and Buc Nasty (played by Charlie Murphy) to win the coveted award.

We said that Michael and Magic’s legacies would take a hit because they came back from retirement and were mere shadows of their former selves; and yet we still consider them to be the best guards in the history of the NBA. We measured their greatness by the successes of their teams, regardless of the players that accompanied them (Kareem Abdu-Jabbar, James Worthy, Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, etc…) and ultimately that’s what LeBron James is trying to do, create and perfect his own legacy as one of the best forwards ever…..


drewbreezzy said...

Oh Jordan LOL.

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