” We got next”
No, not the WNBA slogan but the three words spoken on any playground or gym in the world can either cause laughs, intrigue or fear in an opponents hearts.
Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were not hang-out buddies prior to them joining forces in 2007. They were veterans that had a mutual respect for one anther and wanted to come together for a common goal– a championship. The San Antonio Spurs with Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker were built through drafts and the same can now be said for a new group featuring Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond of the Golden State Warriors. But what if money didn’t matter, only friendships, should that make a difference in the way NBA teams are constructed?
James and Dwyane Wade wanted to play together so bad that Wade made LeBron James leave his home team Cleveland Cavaliers and head south bringing along third wheel Chris Bosh who was a star in Canada playing for the Toronto Raptors. All were willing to take a pay cut to win a ring, or two, or three, or four (you get the point). This was a pairing for friends as Wade was feeling the pressure of carrying a struggling Heat team alone and James wasn’t quite living up to ring potential on his own.
Four years together, four straight NBA Finals appearances and 2 championships later LeBron pulled a LeBron and bolted back to Cleveland to join a younger version of the Big 3 with he, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Two years later, one championship, talks of him leaving has now turned into whispers:
“At least one, maybe one or two seasons — me, Melo, D-Wade, CP — we can get a year in,” James said. “I would actually take a pay cut to do that.
“It would be pretty cool. I’ve definitely had thoughts about it.”
Maybe this is bigger than dominance in the NBA. Maybe, just maybe this is friends looking out for friends. Let’s be honest here do you really see Carmelo Anthony leading the New York Knicks to a ring soon? He’s had his chances with the Denver Nuggets and the Knicks, now he finds himself in the pre LeBron Heat days. He has talent surrounding him now with the recent addition of Derrick Rose but is that enough to make him a Knick for life?. Anthony is not getting any older and eventually his career will come to an end which may place him among the greats like Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing and Karl Malone but even those guys had the chance to make an appearance or two in the NBA Finals.
As for Chris Paul, much like Anthony he has never been to the Finals himself but his name is always mentioned as one of the best if not THE best PG in the NBA, as a leader he has fallen short on numerous occasions ala LeBron pre Heat days. His time with the New Orleans Hornets were full of potential but he fell short. His current stay with Los Angeles Clippers has been nothing short of disappointment. Paul, unlike Anthony has had the teammates to compete but not even a lineup that features Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan and 6th man extraordinaire Jamal Crawford with a proven coach in Doc Rivers has pushed him to the top. He has the talent, heart and drive but it’s obvious something is lacking.
Maybe it’s LeBron and Wade.
But naysayers believe this will be bad for the NBA. Not me. I say let it happen. It may look bad for history and career purposes as it will be well documented that certain “great” players from this generation simply cannot lead. Imagine Michael Jordan calling Ewing, Barkley, Magic Johnson and Malone saying ” since we can’t do it alone let’s build a dynasty and dominate”. This would’ve been done years ago but the way their competitive drive was set up, it wasn’t going down. To be considered the best you had and wanted to beat the best, not accept handouts.
Let it happen, let them play as a unit. To be honest the league cannot stop it from happening. We just saw that with the Kevin Durant to the Warriors this past off-season but who’s to say they would still win? This will be great for NBA fans, not so for the careers of the “Super Friends” as it would further suggest what we have all known for years. They just don’t have the heart to lead.
P.S. Please stop giving Wade a pass. Remember he won a ring without LeBron but that team also featured Shaquille O’Neal, Alonzo Mourning, Gary Payton and Antoine Walker. IJS…
As seen on DraftUtopia.com