For a hoops enthusiast, when basketball is executed at its highest level, the synchronization of five guys believing in other, trusting each other and putting their individual legacies aside to be part of something that will transcend the game and last throughout time, is akin to entering the gates of heaven.
MJ vs. the field never won an NBA Championship. MJ and Scottie and three guys willing to make the ultimate sacrifice (switch the names and the faces at your leisure) won six of them. Kobe vs. the field never worked. Kobe and Shaq and three committed role guys won three championships and then Kobe, Gasol and some long, lanky dudes who were versatile on offense and disruptive on defense won two more.
The Spurs had 0 egos and unprecedented consistency with player retention in winning five championships during the Tim Duncan Era.
As big as Jordan’s shadow was, Pippen always got his props and Steve Kerr and Dennis Rodman and Horace Grant and Ron Harper and BJ Armstrong all understood their roles and accepted them. Kobe and Shaq were the faces of the NBA but Derek Fisher always got his props and Robert Horry became recognized as an all-time clutch shooter.
Despite having that polarizing superstar, other guy stepped up in big moments.
Robert Horry joins The Jump to talk about how the current Golden State Warriors compare to his old Los Angeles Lakers teams. Watch ESPN on YouTube TV: http://ow.ly/1YWF30aFCi3 Subscribe NOW to ESPN on YouTube: http://ow.ly/xjsF309WWdG Get more ESPN on YouTube: First Take: http://ow.ly/n47n30aLirR SC6 with Michael & Jemele: http://ow.ly/jXhw30aLiGv SportsCenter
The Boston Celtics have that continuity, that chemistry of mutual understanding and the trust in each other to fulfill responsibilities without hesitation. Cleveland, on the other hand, appears to be a team of controlled chaos. Separated parts trying to learn dance choreography on the fly from the game's greatest performer.
They just seem to be freestyling out there and LeBron, who scored 40 points and got a triple-double in a Game 2 Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Celtics, is just going H.A.M and trying to get his, having abandoned his usual efforts to facilitate for anyone else.
Great players "always respond," said Brad Stevens ahead of Game 2. Well, great teams answer right back. https://t.co/u6FDsdNtlK
He’s transformed from Magic Johnson to a wannabe Michael Jordan, but none of his teammates seem to know their roles. He doesn’t trust any of the talent that was brought in when they revamped the squad midseason and for a guy who at one point “everyone wanted to play with” he’s become a career killer of sorts.
The narrative that the franchise holding LeBron James is every free agents' dream destination took a hit when Kyrie Irving exposed Cleveland’s dirty laundry. Guys like Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson, and Larry Nance Jr. are very capable players whose names have disappeared playing under the smothering dominance of LeBron James. Why is that?
The media just call them bums, but it’s deeper than that. They don’t look as if they feel comfortable enough to play their best games. Grown men don’t like being controlled and criticized and having their confidence shattered. They want their leaders to encourage them and put the battery in their backs and challenge them with real responsibility.
At this point, everyone on the roster other than LeBron is basically a sideshow. Kyrie was never that and he refused to be. This Cleveland team doesn’t just lack the talent to win a championship. The team has no identity past LeBron James and as much as people try to make him that guy, Bron doesn’t want to “do it alone.” It’s a false narrative that’s never occurred in the history of the NBA.
Game 2 was a physical battle, but even with LeBron going off, we found a way to take a 2-0 lead with a boost from Terry Rozier https://t.co/czHuQk8l93
Bron vs. The Field is a narrative that’s disrespectful to the players and the level of talent it takes to perform in the NBA. As the greatest player in the world, you have to get guys to play for you and raise the level of their games by understanding what’s at stake. If anything, Bron’s teammates look as if they want to lay down and not get down for him. It's got to be hard to devote yourself to a guy who always has one foot out the door, a coach whose health may force him into retirement and a situation where the media and fans are discarding you as weak meat.
Down 2-0 in the ECF series, Cleveland and LBJ have five games to get this ship righted, but if you look back at the history of NBA champions, teams don’t usually develop chemistry on the fly. And as far as being dedicated to each other, the future of that franchise is so up in the air that everyone seems to just be playing out the season.