The summer of 2010 produced arguably the greatest free agency class ever. Three out of the top ten players in the NBA currently were up for grabs. There was endless speculation about where Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh could end up. Then the unthinkable occurred, the Miami Heat pulled off the biggest free agent upset in all of NBA history and signed all three of them. Bosh and James both left the teams that had drafted them in search of a better team that would immediately contend for a title. If you can’t beat em, join em. All three came together to form an elite team of legitimate superstars, all in their prime with plenty left, the likes of which the NBA has never seen. With that, a new mentality is being ushered into the NBA counter to the old school alpha dog attitude. It’s times like these that make you wonder what would Michael Jordan do (WWMJD)?
Well someone asked Michael Jordan his opinion on the situation and he answered “There’s no way, with hindsight, I would’ve ever called up Larry, called up Magic and said, ‘Hey, look, let’s get together and play on one team…things are different. I can’t say that’s a bad thing. It’s an opportunity these kids have today. In all honesty, I was trying to beat those guys.” That quote is just one of the many reasons Michael Jordan was so amazing. Now picture this. Imagine M.J after losing game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals, so close to a championship, and deciding in the summer to leave the Bulls and join forces with say, Magic Johnson and the Lakers, or Patrick Ewing with the Knicks. At the time, critics of Jordan were saying he could never win a championship because of his selfish style of play, that one player could not elevate his team to a title, he needed help. The fact of the matter is that Jordan didn’t give up on the Bulls, even after 6 seasons with them and losing to the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals three consecutive years. No, Michael didn’t give up because if he did and joined another team, it be like admitting defeat, that he wasn’t capable of leading his team to Championship. Instead, Jordan worked harder than ever and persevered. Third times a charm eh? Not the case. Most players would have given up after 3 consecutive years of being beat by their intense rival in a playoff series that would decide who would go to the finals. It was Jordans intense competitive drive that refused to allow him to give up, not when he was so close. The following year, Jordan and the Bulls scorched through the regular season, posting a Eastern Conference best 61-21 record. MJ was awarded his second MVP award, but he still had to get past the Pistons once again in the Eastern Conference Finals, their fourth meeting in 4 years. The rest, they say is history. Jordan and the Bulls swept the Pistons 4-0, not allowing the Pistons a single game. MJ went on to win his first of six titles and cement his legacy as the Greatest of All Time.
Now I’m not saying that by leaving their respected teams that Chris Bosh and Lebron James have a chance to be as good or better than Jordan. If anything they have just significantly increased their chances of getting multiple rings, but both of them plus Wade have just forever changed their legacies. The argument can be made that the superstars legacy that will suffer the most is Lebron James because, it was starting to sound like something special. For seven season, Lebron James tried to bring his home state Cleveland its first ever NBA Championship. He is widely considered the NBA’s best player, and who also has the best chance of catching MJ. In the last two seasons (08,09), the Cavaliers were the favorites to win the NBA title each year, but failed both times. Although not exactly like Jordans situation, James had a chance to for an even better story than Jordans. Lebron is from Cleveland, born and raised in Akron Ohio. The Cavaliers were fortunate enough to land the number one pick in the 2003 draft, and they selected their hometown hero. It was shaping up to be a story for the ages. Hometown hero struggles through the first half of his career to bring Cleveland its first title, just like Jordan. Just one title would have put him in the conversation with the greatest players of all time, and I’m sure he’d have the chance to win a couple more. Instead he chose to renege on his vow to bring Cleveland a title and publicly humiliated them on national television by telling the world he was going to Miami. If you can’t beat em, join em. Even if Lebron wins 7 titles, his legacy can’t come close to Jordans, or even any of the other greatest players. He gave up on his team, his state, and his legacy when he decided to go join Wade and Bosh in Southbeach. Not only did he say I can’t do it, but he joined with arguably the biggest combination of talent the NBA has ever seen, further dampening his forever changed legacy.
For Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, things are a little different. Bosh had a chance to join several teams and form a dynamic duo with another star like Derrick Rose or Yao Ming. In my opinion, as good as Bosh is, his legacy suffered the least because nobody was expecting Chris Bosh to go win a title by himself, simply put he’s just not that kind of player. He will now have to deal with the massive shadows of Dwayne Wade and Lebron James as his legacy will slip into obscurity because of the enormous amount talent around him. Nobody remembers third place, heck Scottie Pippen barely receives credit for what he did. Dwayne Wade on the other hand, will come out the best of the three. Out of all of them, Wade is the only self made man. The only one who brought his team a championship, their first championship ever, mind you. Although I do think his legacy will take a hit because of the talent around him, he is hands down the man. The guy who will be taking the last shot at the end of the game. He didn’t have to leave, the stars came to play with him. It is my opinion that Wade could have also led his team to more titles even with a more modest team, like forming a duo with Bosh or Amare Stoudemire. Now, we’ll never get to see what Wade could accomplish, the same goes for Lebron. It truly is a new era in the NBA. There already have been rumors of another super team forming in New York to bring it to the heat. The Miami trio has backed themselves into a corner for the remainder of their careers, they’ve all signed 6 year deals to play out their prime together. It will be championship or bust every season, they’ve placed enormous pressure upon themselves through their own actions. No one is sure how this experiment is going to end, but one thing is for sure that it’s going to be great watching it.
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