is the owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers......
Quicken Loans founder Dan Gilbert is the owner of the Cavaliers, but this is LeBron's team, his city (even though he is actually from Akron), his region and his state. It is not a good thing when a player, no matter who that player is, has more power than the coach, GM and owner. The Lakers are stuck in a tragic comedy because some where along the way, they decided to make Kobe Bean Bryant an honorary Buss. Even though Byron Scott thinks the Lakers are in Playoff Contention, they are not going anywhere until number 24 leaves. Number 23 on the Cavaliers, on the other hand, will not leave Cleveland until they win a title. They will win one, and it will be the first time in the modern NBA where a player wielding as much power as LeBron holds up the Larry O'Brien trophy.
The Jerrys (Owner Jerry Reinsdorf and then GM Jerry Krause) ran the Championships-era Bulls. The Spurs are R.C. Buford's and Gregg Popovich's team. Pat Riley was the boss during the Heat's title run. Dirk may have some input, but Mark Cuban is the Dallas Mavericks. When the Lakers were winning Championships and allowing their fans to riot, the Buss family an the Lakers.
LeBron is running the entire basketball operations in Cleveland and it was a brilliant power move by him to return "home." He may not reach five or six championships in his career, but he knows that he will be immortalize by the State of Ohio if he can lead the Cavs to one Championship. He knows that the current owner is desperate to please the fans and to win a Championship. If Dan Gilbert is found responsible for "allowing" LeBron to leave Cleveland the second time, it will be a public relations disaster for the billionaire. LeBron has all the leverage in any business-political decision regarding the franchise.
Unfortunately, this leverage has not translate into consistent winning basketball. That is because leverage and business/political advantage have nothing to do with how human beings play basketball together against other teams comprise of humans beings who may have better chemistry. The team got rid of Dion Waiters. He was the only young player not named Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love, who had ego and ambition. The rest of the roster are filled with role players on their last legs and guys who are just happy to be on an NBA roster. Even with this LeBron appeasing mix, the team is still underachieving. J.R. "When it doubt, shoot the ball" Smith could help. Iman Shumpert is overrated and Timofey Mozgov is a big dude with a large neck who can protect the rim and once scored 93 points in a game. This does not make them any more convincing than the Bulls, Hawks, Wizards, and Raptors -- all of whom function as a team.
Chris Bosh, a very intelligent human being, said it can be difficult to play with LeBron. He did not mean anything disparaging by it, but playing with a superstar even an unselfish one, means that people have to adjust their games. It is going to take a few years, especially, when you have younger players like Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving shifting from being the focal point on their losing teams to become a second and third option on a LeBron led Championship contender. The Heat reached the Finals in their first year with LeBron, but that team had veterans and starting with Bosh was much better than the Cavaliers defensively. It took one year for Wade to hand over the reigns to LeBron, and it is going to take one to two years for the Cavaliers to adjust to playing with their de facto owner.
Friends of LeBron
The older I get, the more I learn that sports is just like the rest of life. It is not the egalitarian haven that young fans may think it is. I remembered when I learned that the Olympics is essentially about commercialism and sex. I have stopped watching the Olympics avidly now, but still follow a few professional sports, even if it has some of the same elements of the Olympics. Just like life, it helps to know important people and be liked by them if you are an NBA player. Being a friend of LeBron James has its perks. Mike Miller is still a decent bench player who could occasionally swing a game with his shooting, but he is an 18 minutes a game player now, and does not offer much besides shooting and veteran savvy. Without LeBron, he is probably on a pretender's bench playing out his career and being paid well based on reputation, but not getting the chance at another ring. James Jones can shoot. That is about it. It is difficult to say whether he still would be in the league with his connection to LeBron, since Steve Novak is still in the league and Jason Kapono managed to play nine years in the NBA. Tristan Thompson shares an agent with LeBron. Thompson is a decent rebounder and an average defender. He can't protect the rim, doesn't finish around the basket all that well and is a below average shooter. Without the LeBron connection, he would be a decent bench big man somewhere and probably should be traded since you can probably get a cheap contract player (Thompson is at the end of his rookie contract, but he will make a ridiculous amount of money next year.) or a second round draft pick to do what Thompson does. But Thompson is in LeBron's circle, so he has a chance to play for Championships and stay in Cleveland. He and his agent (Lebron's agent) are so sure of their connection to LeBron that they reportedly turned down a four-year, $52 million contract extension offer from the Cavaliers. $52 million for Tristan Thompson, what did Skee-Lo say twenty years ago?
Random Access Memory (RAM)
The first NBA game I attended was Cavaliers vs. Wizards in 2000. I was working in Washington, D.C. at the time, and honestly do not remember that much about the game. I do remember that I had great seats and the Verizon Center was about a third empty. I recalled that the NBA level of play was about 50 times better than NCAA basketball. From 2000 on, I stopped following NCAA basketball and mainly watched NBA games. As for the actual game, all I remembered was that Juwan Howard was on the Wizards and the pre-LeBron Cavaliers had Bob Sura. Sura was one of the most non-stereotypical NBA Player is the modern era. A white player from the sexy city of Wilkes-Barre, PA, he was the antithesis of the white NBA shooter. Sura was athletic and could dunk with some flair, and actually was a below average shooter. During his career, he often shot below 70 percent from the foul line. Sura had a very good 1999-2000 campaign that convinced the Golden State Warriors to overpay him. He would sign one more contract with the Rockets, but retired due to injuries. In the last five years, he became a professional poker player. It is good to be a professional athlete or a retired professional athlete.
Cavaliers Watchability Essay
The most frustrating thing about this year's Cavaliers is not their record, but the fact that they are not enjoyable to watch. The Cavaliers hired David Blatt and he was supposed to install his version of the Princeton offense based on movement and motion, etc. But the Cavaliers are not running his offense. At times, they are not even listening to their coach, the one in the suit, not their de facto owner. David Blatt is at a point which you get to when you take over a new classroom and no one listens. He has given up his values and ideals and is just trying to maintain order. He is simply concerned about classroom management, and there is no teaching and learning going on. When I watch the Cavaliers, I see a lot of the same pick and roll offense, isolation and some late shot clock heaves that I can watch on any other NBA team. Cavaliers' games can be entertaining if you just zone in and watch Kyrie Irving on offense. He is incredibly gifted on that end. At the same time, I have no idea what Kevin Love is doing on this team. There are some LeBron-less games where I will be sitting there waiting for him to take over, and then, absolutely nothing happens. Love look like just another player, and not a max-level superstar. Maybe David Blatt is right, but the Cavaliers are not running his offense. Kevin Love will figure things out, and obviously, when LeBron is in the lineup, the Cavaliers are a different team. Either way though, they have been just an average and not particularly entertaining watch this season.
Paul Tee's Prognosis
It is difficult to make a firm prediction knowing that LeBron had been out of the lineup due to injuries, but as of the first writing of this article, the Cavaliers are under .500 and does not look like one of the three best teams in the East. Still, it is difficult to pick against the best player in the world in the weaker conference. LeBron took the 2007 Cavaliers to the finals, and that team, on paper, was worse than this one. This season, the Cavaliers will not advance to the Finals. There are just too many question marks. The players seemed to be having a difficult time adjusting to playing with LeBron AND for David Blatt. Additionally, the East is a lot better than last year. The Hawks, Wizards, Bulls, and maybe the Raptors are all better teams than the Cavaliers. All of that stated, this edition of the Cavaliers with the core of LeBron, Kyrie Irving, and Love will win at least two Championships when their run is over. It just may take two seasons of tinkering and learning to get there. Kevin Love is not going anywhere. This is the perfect situation for him. He can make max money and be the second (or sometimes third option) on the team. In the unlikely event that the team does not win the Championship, LeBron will get 90 to 99 percent of the blame and the rest of it will be Kyrie's fault because he is the point guard. Love does not have to carry this team and he does not have to be the man. He can play above average or well, and no one but maybe occasionally LeBron will get in his face and the fans and media will not focus on his negative attributes. Kevin Love will stay in Cleveland as long as LeBron is there. LeBron's game will age well. He has an observant and brilliant basketball mind and noticed how the Spurs preserve their stars. As LeBron pushes toward his mid 30s, he will be on a Spurs-like regiment, perhaps just not as overt. LeBron will sit out some games with some nagging injuries so he can be fresh for the Playoffs. When the team figures out how to play together effectively and Kyrie gets closer to his prime, he and Love will do some of the heavy lifting during the regular season. A peak Kyrie Irving will be a scary offensive player. As LeBron ages, he will pick his spots during the regular season especially on defense, but I will not bet against him during the Playoffs. The Cavaliers will win their first Championship during the 2016-2017 season. This season? Enjoy the process.