We know about Golden State’s greatness and the Spurs consistency but what about Cleveland? What about Lebron James?
Cleveland boasts the best record in the Eastern Conference we know that, and LeBron James is the greatest player in the world we know that. However, what does that truly mean? Are we talking about a Finals appearance or a Finals win? Are we talking about LeBron the player or LeBron the savior of Cleveland?
LeBron James will go down as a top 10 player and for many people a top 5 player in the game of basketball. James is now in his 12th season in the NBA and he is 31 years old. Keep in mind that LeBron came into the league at 18 and had already been playing basketball for many years before that. That is a whole lot of basketball folks and wear on that body for someone still so desperate to bring a title to Cleveland.
And yet in his second stint with Cleveland, he once again faces an important year searching for a ring that appears to be more important to him. An elusive ring for a city that seemingly imposed this duty upon him. The Cavaliers handed the franchise to him for real this time and gave him players like Irving and Love to play with. Furthermore, if that was not enough, the Cavaliers went out and added JR Smith, Shumpert, and Mosgov to add depth around James during the season last year. This is year two of this experimentation and things appear to be decently good enough during the regular season.
So why are we hearing things like this:
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 8, 2016
I have been critical of James many times in the past and I really disliked the way he went about going to Miami through “The Decision”. However, the LeBron James of Miami MADE me respect him in a way I did not think I could. He became not only a villain but one that would stomp your throat on his way to a title. Remember game 6 in Boston where he dropped 45 after the fear of another failed season?
But this James in Cleveland is different. He tweets cryptic things and seems to talk down to his teammates at times. James and head coach David Blatt struggled mightily to make it work and the head coach of the top seed in the Eastern Conference got fired and now we are in the Tyronn Lue era. Things have improved with Lue but is it enough for LeBron to save the Cavs?
LeBron nearly won it all on his own last year against Golden State even after Kyrie Irving went down with his knee injury in the Finals. James, exhausted, put it all out there on the line to beat the Warriors to bring a title to a desperate city. Like it or not, LeBron’s return to Cleveland coincided with the rise of a potential dynasty and one he will have to overcome to bring a title to Cleveland. If not this year, then it will be next year that LeBron will have to topple Golden State or the year after that and so forth. LeBron’s first 7 years in Cleveland are a wash because they never assembled the talent around him to win a title. However, the first 2 years in his return and seemingly for the rest of his career if he stays are filled with a title-contending roster.
So the question remains, will LeBron save the Cavs and the city of Cleveland during his second stint?
I think the real question should be, will LeBron’s career in Cleveland be good enough without a title?