Our Decision: Stay Cool About the Heat
Frank arrived in New York for a family
visit just a few hours after James' announcement. Amazingly, the city was still
Frank: I landed at LaGuardia
late Friday morning and couldn't wait to see how the tabloids expressed their
fury. It was hilarious! The New York Post
and Daily News were reduced to
sputtering the same headline on their back pages: "SON OF A BEACH!"
Artie: New York, New York—headlines
so great they use ’em twice.
Frank: Even better, the News whined on its front page,
"Hey, we're New York,
the greatest city in the world, so... WHO CARES!" The Post contented itself with, "LeBUM," while Newsday maintained a little dignity with
"LeGone." On Sunday, Spike Lee wailed in The New York Times that the trio had this all planned for two years
and "hoodwinked" the Big Apple.
Artie: Hey, it’s not the Heat,
it’s the duplicity, ain’a? One good aspect of this over-hyped circus is that
the Knicks are left with egg on their faces. They groveled to LeBron, dismantling
an already bad team over two seasons to make room for his salary. Now they really
have nothing; yeah, they signed Amar'e Stoudemire, but he's barely a No. 2 guy.
He was only as good as he was in Phoenix
because he played with Steve Nash.
Frank: Speaking of point
guards, who does Miami
have at this moment to get the ball to the new Big Three?
Artie: Mario Chalmers, a
third-year guy out of Kansas.
The Heat traded Michael Beasley to Minnesota
to help clear salary-cap space, then signed Mike Miller as a three-point
shooter, but they still need another rebounder, a good point guard and a true
center. Which is why I wouldn't advise the Big Three to have their ring sizes
taken in training camp. There are no guarantees!
Frank: Boston's Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul
Pierce and Ray Allen has won only one title in three seasons. In the ’80s Larry
Bird, Robert Parish and Kevin McHale won three times but also lost twice to the
Lakers of Magic, Kareem and James Worthy—who also fell short in the Finals
three times in the decade.
Artie: Then there's Michael
Jordan, LeBron's target as the all-time greatest player, who won all six of his
Finals with the Bulls.
Frank: Jordan won his
first title in his seventh season, 1990-’91. LeBron has completed his seventh
season, but because he skipped college he's still only 25, three years younger
at that level of experience.
Artie: Ah, but there's this.
Michael Wilbon pointed out in The
Washington Post that James has a lot more "miles" on him than Jordan did at
25. James has played 548 regular-season games; when Jordan was 25 he had played only
312. Wilbon's point: James' "window" for winning multiple titles,
"which is how legendary greatness is measured in the NBA, isn't as wide
open as his age suggests."
Frank: As great as Jordan was, he
had a great supporting cast. Not just Scottie Pippen and Horace Grant, but
those Bulls always seemed to get a key shot in the Finals from a little
guy—Steve Kerr in the clincher against Utah in 1997, John Paxson against
Phoenix in ’93 and even the immortal Bob Hansen in ’92 against Portland.
Artie: I think LeBron's choice
of Miami shows he realizes he's not another Jordan. If he'd
stayed in Cleveland or gone to New York, he would have continued to be THE
GUY. But he hasn't delivered in that role; just one Finals appearance even
though the Cavs kept adjusting the supporting cast. As much as he plays the
showman, The King, The Chosen One, I think there's some self-doubt. In Miami he's got two other
guys to carry him.
Frank: Which is realistic, but
also contradicts the pomposity of "The Decision."
Artie: I hope he doesn't think
he's going to be the Jordan of Miami. For me that's Wade, and LeBron is the
Frank: As much as he ticked
off New York, it can't compare to what the son
of Akron did to his fans in Ohio.
Artie: The Cavs' owner told Cleveland fans, "You
simply don’t deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal." Wow, has LeBron
opened a can of schadenfreude toward him there!
Frank: Um, what would that be?
Artie: German for "pleasure
in another's misfortune." For Cleveland
it's like pro wrestling, where a good guy suddenly gets reincarnated as a
villain. The best part of that very dull show was when Wilbon was questioning
LeBron and there was video of a James jersey someone had lit on fire. And
LeBron looked shocked! This wasn't on his agenda or the memo from his
Frank: All top athletes have
big egos, but some try harder to control it than others. The way James phrased
his decision was telling: "I'm going to take my talents to South Beach."
Artie: This was ego to a
supreme level. Well, now the King has abdicated; he's just part of three, so
what does that make him, a duke?
Frank: So Miami becomes the team folks love to hate in
the NBA. True for you?
Artie: As much as I like Wade
from his Marquette
days, I hope they have much difficulty. But another good thing is that this
improves the Bucks' position in their division. Chicago added Carlos Boozer but is less than
it would have been with LeBron. And Cleveland
is certainly down. The Bucks have a real shot at first place in the Central.
Frank: As we said last week,
the roster looks impressive.
Artie: A projected starting
lineup of Andrew Bogut and Drew Gooden at the "big" spots, Carlos
Delfino at small forward and Brandon Jennings and John Salmons in the
backcourt—that's pretty dang good!
Frank: And off the bench
there's Chris Douglas-Roberts at the "2"; Corey Maggette to share
minutes with Delfino; Ersan Ilyasova and the top draft pick, Larry Sanders, to
back up Gooden; and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for either forward spot and as a
Artie: Listening to talk-radio
in town, the fans are saying this is the best Bucks team since 2001, when they
were one game away from the NBA Finals. But it looks like Luke Ridnour won't be
re-signed, and that leaves a big hole yet to fill, that backup point guard.
Frank: Who's the only other
point guard on the roster? Royal Ivey, right?
Artie: Yup. They need better.
Frank: Well, the Brewers went
into the All-Star break on a three-game upswing, thanks to the woeful Pirates.
Artie: But that debacle
against the Giants! A four-game butt-whipping by the NFL score of 36-7. Too bad
the new scoreboard planned for 2011 wasn't in place already. They could have
used the supersized screen to show something worth seeing—"Here's Transformers 2 for your viewing
Frank: Besides the Pirates,
there was another welcome visitor—Geoff Jenkins, who returned to formally
retire as a Brewer. Jenkins was a genuinely nice guy—always accommodating to
fans and the media. I'm glad his last at-bat in the majors was a double that
led to the Phillies' winning run in the 2008 World Series.
Artie: Someone at the Journal Sentinel got in a nice dig,
writing that to officially retire him, the Brewers would "place someone on
each base and strike out Jenks on a pitch low and outside," or something
Frank: Ouch! Yeah, he didn't totally fulfill fans' hopes, but he had a decent career over 11 seasons, 10 of them here—a .275 batting average and 221 homers. He was stuck on some pretty bad teams, but he played hard and played hurt.