You really have to hand it to LeBron James. Just when you think he couldn’t do or say anything more embarrassing or damaging to his reputation than “The Decision,” he delivers “The Contraction.”
The only things missing were the cameras, the adoring ESPN analysts, and a bought-and-paid-for Jim Gray asking about his favorite color while “The Chosen One” proceeded to choose which struggling NBA franchises should fold, and which of the elites should absorb their leftover superstars.
It was Christmas Eve, just a day before he delivered a triple-double in his primetime matchup with Kobe Byrant and the Lakers, that Santa James delivered a sack full of pink slips to marginal NBA players, calling for the contraction of what he calls a “watered down” league.
“It’s not my job,” James said while making it his job, “but imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the league.”
Good thing for Timberwolves fans that it’s not his job.
“Looking at some of the teams that aren’t that great,” his Highness continued, “you take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off these teams … you add him to a team that could be really good.”
Got it. Not your job, but you’re disbanding the T-Wolves and the Nets. So far.
“I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey and let’s take Minnesota out of the league.”
You’re not? How silly of us.
“But hey, you guys are not stupid, I’m not stupid.”
Well, you’re half right.
“Hopefully the league can … go back to the ’80s … three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team,” he continued. “The league was great.”
Apparently this great student of basketball history doesn’t realize that those dominant teams in the 80’s were comprised of great players who wanted to beat the daylights out of one another, not abandon their teammates and join one another.
Julius Erving didn’t choose to leave Philadelphia and join the Lakers because he couldn’t win a title with the Sixers. Michael Jordan never left the Bulls to join Isiah Thomas and the Pistons after 7 years of failing to win championships. Likewise, Dominique Wilkins never conspired to join Larry Bird in Boston when his Hawks couldn’t get past the Celtics.
Rather than taking the easy way out, those great players chose to elevate players around them to greatness, in much the same way James had been lifting average players in Cleveland for 7 years. Instead of finishing the job, however, James decided to flee, and now he’s busy defending his decision by trying to convince critics far and wide that his way is the right way for everyone.
And in the process, he has thrown his peers under the bus just as a collective bargaining agreement is to be negotiated.
Check that — not his peers. In his mind, he has no peers.
Rather, he has called for the firing of the peons who have the audacity to drag down the quality of play in his league. By supporting the elimination of other NBA franchises in order to build a few star-laden, barnstorming Superteams, he is advocating for the elimination of jobs for other players in the NBA.
Superstar athletes are often hit with unfair labels, believed to be selfish, greedy, and elitist without fans and media ever knowing who they truly are.
With LeBron James, no such guessing is necessary. We know exactly who he is.