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Sunday, May 20, 2018

LeBron James Unintentionally Rips Ex-Cavaliers Teammates

LeBron James’ decision to leave Cleveland for the Miami Heat was the most polarizing move in recent NBA history. While the fans in South Beach were ecstatic to have a super team, nearly everyone else criticized James for standing up Cleveland and selling out by joining “someone else’s team.” Even though there is no defense for the manner in which LeBron made his announcement, his choice to team up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh was not only the right one, it was an admirable one.

The Cavaliers did not have the talent to beat the Magic, Celtics, or Lakers, so LeBron put his ego and money aside to join forces with players who could help him beat those teams. It’s hardly different from what Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen did in joining Paul Pierce in Boston, and it’s hardly different from Kobe demanding more help — and receiving it in Pau Gasol and Ron Artest. I always maintained that the biggest reason LeBron James didn’t win a title in Cleveland is because he lacked the support from his teammates.

After clinching his second career berth to the NBA Finals, he subtly said the same thing.

“I understand a lot of the backlash that came with me going to Miami, but I understand also that I did what was best for me, what was best for my family, and what was best for me being a professional athlete,” LeBron explained. “I understand what this league is all about. I wanted to team up with some guys that would never die down in the moment. The opportunity presented itself with this great organization and we made it happen.”

If you think I’m reading too much into that comment, I’ll respond with this: LeBron could have easily said “I wanted to team up with some of the best players in the League,” and that’s why I went to Miami. Had he said that, his message would have been the same. But something else came out, and it was a direct shot at his former Cavaliers teammates. He’s talking about guys like Mo Williams who completely tanked in the Orlando series in ’09 and against Boston in ’10. He’s talking about guys like Antawn Jamison who was totally outclassed by KG last year.

There were other ways for LeBron to say he left Cleveland for better teammates, but instead he said he wanted to be with guys who “would never die in the moment.” Whether he realized it or not, he identified the issue the Cavs had in the past — his teammates weren’t good enough to beat the best teams in the playoffs. Now he has one of the best players in the NBA by his side and another All-Star. If he can’t win a title this year, there will be no excuses. I don’t think he’ll have to make any.

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