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I have this strange love/hate relationship with LeBron. Let me clarify, it’s not a relationship because I don’t know him personally.

But you know what I’m saying…

LeBron is the best player of his generation (there may be some debate of where his generation begins). Saying he’s one of the best players to ever grace the hardwood is like saying water is wet. My problem with LeBron is that everything seems so fabricated. That could be the pessimism of living in this artificial social media culture that is tempering my opinion. There are very few moments that feels honest, in a basketball context. His comradery with his teammates all seems posed and corny.

Then there is philanthropist LeBron…

This is a side of LeBron that he is making more public in recent years. He has begun to speak out on social issues and he not only gives money but gives his time to endeavors that he’s passionate about. He is the ultimate feel-good story. His calling “45” a bum was easily one of the best sports moments in 2017. He carried that momentum in 2018 by serving Laura Ingraham an L during All-Star Weekend. He has taken the mantle of being socially conscious in a world that would rather spend time creating a perfect Instagram life than fighting for actual change. This same world has been fragmented by race and class while we live in a created social media world. Instead of being the next Jordan in that aspect, he chose to be the next Kareem Abdul Jabbar.

Then the trade deadline happened…

A team that was pretty much overhauled in the offseason. The mini banana boat crew didn’t work in Cleveland because well – D. Wade is old, hurt, and has lost a step. He often seemed lost in the offense and LBJ wanted Batman and Robin but instead, he got Art and Ben (old guys from Cocoon). Unfortunately, this isn’t a movie so there wasn’t a fountain of youth to be found. He never seems to be happy with his team unless they win a championship.

He continually holds franchises hostage with the refusal to sign a long-term contract which makes him a never-ending sports story. There is a LeBron will sign with ____ story daily on every sports outlet. I can’t be the only person tired of the “Where is the LeBron going “ topics.

It’s annoying. Actually, it’s obnoxious. It’s a self-centered desire to drive sports news.  That’s not to say that sports media isn’t complicit in this.

LeBron is a player whose talent is undeniable but he has an insatiable yearning to be liked and loved. I imagine when you’ve always been “the man” you are probably forever searching for that “real love”. That search is what motivates him to curate his manicured image where even candid moments seem to be a part of the LBJ Reality Show. He has led a scandal-free career and I’m sure that is not by accident. His biggest pox is the fact that he held a television special to announce where he is going in Free Agency.

Overall I love his game. He’s Scottie Pippen 2.0 — bigger, stronger, faster and way more gifted. I was always a huge Pippen fan. He sees the floor like a new generation Magic Johnson. He is a force with the rock whenever he feels like it — like a Wilt in his prime. LBJ makes other players seem small. I’ll never forget the last 2 minutes of Game 5 in the playoffs where he shut down then MVP Derrick Rose. Who can forget the Finals block on Steph or the run-down block of Iggy. He can be so dominant at points that we internally wonder if we can adjust the sliders to make the game a little more difficult for him.

That’s probably why it annoys most of us his about his yearly whining about needing new teammates or incessant flopping.

LeBron is on the Mt. Rushmore of NBA Greats. He’s also one of the most annoying diva personalities to ever grace the hardwood floor. I’m just over his player antics – from the flopping to his fear of commitment to an NBA team. He’s not Jordan or Kobe as he shouldn’t be – but man how great would it be if the LBJ stories were actually just about his basketball and philanthropy?

I want to love him like I love other players’ game I admire. But I can’t. It like being served Chinese food by a white person. It looks good, it may even smell right, but it’s not right – something isn’t right. When all is said done, you eat it, but you walk away feeling unfulfilled.

 

Yeah, Ben is…just good. Truth hurts sometimes. You remember when Lebron was in Miami and he would try to hit game winners by shooting a jumper? People kept begging him to drive to the lane, be more aggressive, get closer take a better shot. Well, it looks like someone was listening, it just wasn’t Lebron.

It was Ben Simmons.

Ben Simmons plays like he believes his athleticism will allow him to get whatever shot he wants on the floor. On most nights in the regular season, he’s right. He gained confidence by playing a diminished Miami team that managed to win a game with Dwayne Wade’s half rotten carcass making big plays.

Now he’s in the second round and he notices that the lane is clogged. He can’t play bully ball against someone like Marcus Morris because of his size and strength. Passing lanes are diminished because everyone in the arena knows Simmons’ worst kept secret.

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Coward. Punk. Front Runner. “Can’t beat em, join em”

These are all the things Kevin Durant heard last summer. People went as far as questioning his competitive spirit and even his manhood. Why would KD do something like that? It’s something so Anti-Jordan, it’s so, so, LeBron. The fact of the matter is KD saw the landscape of the NBA. In order for OKC to be competitive in the upcoming years after him and Russ signing extension is that they need one more player. Preferably a stretch 4 or a real 2 Guard. Neither of those types of players were coming to that market. Could they convince Paul George to come OKC, not likely. Could they make a move for DeMarcus Cousins? They really didn’t have the pieces to pull a trade like that off. If you step back and look at the Thunder, they are who they are for the foreseeable future. The roster as designed cannot beat the Warriors and would not be able to beat the Cavs in a 7-game series. 

If you want to win what do you do? You go someplace where you can win. Using that as qualification there are only a couple teams that are seriously competing for championship: Golden State, Cleveland, San Antonio, Clippers. Everyone else are pretenders or more than one player away. If he is seriously about winning a championship where else can he go? The choices were limited. Either he wants to win or he wants to look like he wants to. So, he leaves and is in The NBA Finals for the 2nd Time in career and is playing out of his mind. 

As great as players as Steph and Kyrie are there is a huge gap between them and KD and LeBron. It’s like watching Superman and Darkseid battle in the air while Batman is solving The Ridder’s puzzles in Gotham City. There is just a chasm of greatness separating those two sets of players. While both sets have played great  (kyrie not really…yet) — KD and LeBron are in another stratosphere. As of this posting Golden State is up 2-0 and Cleveland is looking completely overmatched. But to the Cavs defense — we’ve heard this song before, twice actually. 

The series doesn’t begin until the home team loses. It’s cliché but it’s true. This Finals series is about Legacy for LeBron, Steph and especially Kevin Durant.  While he is known as a scorer his defense has been what’s been on center stage this series. He finished Game 2 with 5 blocks and had to play the 4 and 5 during the 2nd half because of Draymond Green’s foul trouble. While he struggles with cool nicknames (The Servant bruh, glad that one didn’t stick) he is not struggling with the lights of competing for a championship. While there will be, naysayers — his Finals performance is proving he is right where he belongs; On the big stage, with the biggest name, competing for the biggest prize.