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Posted May 13, 2010
LeBron James: Celtic Pride
Conspiracy theory time. One of my most favorite movies of all-time (for its humor) is Celtic Pride with Damon Wayans, Dan Akroyd and Daniel Stern - a highly underrated and hilarious flick. To sum up the plot, die-hard Celtic fans Akroyd and Stern kidnap Utah Jazz star Lewis Scott (Wayans) to help the Celtics try to win the NBA title.
LeBron James didn't look like himself in Game 5. It was simply one of the worst performances in a big game by a superstar I have ever witnessed - in any sport. My first fun (didn't happen - but fun nonetheless) conspiracy theory is some Celtic fans kidnapped LeBron just like in the movie. They got him drunk, but somehow he got away and played a really crappy, unfocused, carefree brand of basketball.
My other (more legit) conspiracy theory is that LeBron partied too much the night before the game. He simply didn't look like himself. He was exhausted early on, he never attacked the rim, and he deferred a lot on offense.
Let's put this in perspective. Without LeBron, the Cavaliers would be lucky to win 20 games. They average 102 points per game with LeBron (29.7 ppg by himself). Imagine life without LeBron in Cleveland. If Cleveland averaged 12 less ppg (his teammates making up his other 18 points), then they would be dead last in the NBA in scoring average. The Cavaliers should be renamed the "LeBrons."
We saw what happened when LeBron didn't show up at all - the Cavs looked like they should be drafting No. 1 overall the other night.
LeBron knows he is on a bad team, but he still refused to play an aggressive style of basketball on the offensive end. My only explanation was that he was partying too much. I've never seen a superstar on such an off night in a really important game.
He can make it all up if he wins Game 6. If the Cavs win Game 6, I just can't see them losing Game 7 at home. Too much urgency. Too much at stake.
However, if the Cavaliers lose, we will get the most interesting free agent sweepstakes in professional sports history. Where will LeBron go? I'm handicapping the race:
3:1 - Chicago Bulls. The house that Jordan built. It would be hard to cement a legacy where the greatest basketball player of all-time is in your shadow, but the Bulls have a lot of talent and the cap space to get LeBron. Even more important is I have been saying since January that it simply wouldn't shock me to see John Calipari leave the Kentucky Wildcats to coach his buddy, LeBron. Even better, Cal would hook up with his former No. 1 overall pick Derrick Rose. Luol Deng, Rose, and Joakim Noah are three highly talented players for LeBron to play with - much more so than Antwan Jamison, Mo Williams and Anthony Parker. The Bulls have got to be the favorite mainly because World Wide Wes is a big influence on LeBron and he can make the Calipiari deal work.
4:1 - Los Angeles Clippers. Every Clippers-Lakers game would be like Red Sox-Yankees in the ALCS. Kobe vs. LeBron. Ugly stepsister (Clippers) vs. Cinderella (Lakers). The bright lights of L.A. is a great place for a superstar to be because of endorsements and coverage. Sure, I know New York fans believe the Knicks offer slightly more in tradition, but the Clippers would be the favorites to win the title with LeBron. Baron Davis - Eric Gordon - LeBron James - Blake Griffin - Chris Kaman and a top 10 lottery pick coming off the bench is simply an epic lineup. LeBron just makes everybody better. Look at Cleveland - they are a 20-win team, at best, without LeBron. With King James, they won 127 regular season games over the past two seasons. LeBron takes the Clippers into a different dimension with a supporting cast that blows his current one out of the water. The biggest hurdle here is a dick of an owner in Donald Sterling, but if LeBron wants to win a Championship, the Clippers are his best chance.
8:1 - Cleveland Cavaliers. The only saving grace for Cleveland - who doesn't have much cap space - is John Calipari. If LeBron can handpick is coach, he might believe Calipari can win the Cavaliers a championship. I don't think Calipari would be a good NBA coach, but I'm not the one who's friends with Cal and goes to Kentucky Wildcat basketball games with World Wide Wes.
12:1 - New York Knicks: I love Madison Square Garden. I love the atmosphere of New York City. I love the idea of the world's biggest superstar playing in the world's greatest city. I just don't see it unless the Knicks work some serious magic in free agency - easier said than done even with a ton of cap space. The only good player on the 2010-11 roster is Danilo Gallinari, who averaged 15 ppg and 4.9 rpg last season. A big-time free agent would have to sign with the Knicks before LeBron did - he just isn't going to risk career humiliation by playing on a terrible team. LeBron is a true team player, and he knows his legacy will be determined the number of championships he wins. With absolutely no talent on their team, they are a huge underdog to sign someone that wants to win a championship NOW - not in two years.
15:1 - New Jersey Nets. If - and only if - the Nets secure John Wall, I think the Nets are a very possible destination. However, the greatest obstacle is we are taking about New Jersey - the skidmark state in the NBA. Don't get me wrong, Cleveland isn't that much better, but Newark just doesn't scream "NBA stardom" if I'm LeBron. The reality is, outside of John Wall and Robin Lopez, there simply isn't that much to like about the Nets. I'm pretty sure LeBron would rather stay in Cleveland.
40:1 - Miami Heat: A beautiful city and environment, but LeBron simply isn't going to fight Dwayne Wade to be "the guy." Not happening. This isn't the Olympics.