Posted by Sekou Smith
HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — What would you do at 25 and seemingly at the top of your game?
Would you want to be the man and lead your team to a title? Or would the title itself be most important, no matter how you go it?
LeBron James had a decision to make and he chose the latter, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in the prime of his career to chase his first title.
League elders and legends weighed in on the decisions made by James and other members of the celebrated free agent class of 2010, and it’s clear they would have handled things differently.
NBA TV’s Chris Webber:
“I’m never mentioning him and (Michael) Jordan in the same sentence ever again. There is no more discussion; Kobe (Bryant) is the last heir to Jordan. I think LeBron is starting a new era of basketball that is not led by a dominate two guard. Magic (Johnson) and Michael Cooper, Magic and Byron Scott, it’s not that type of thing. I mean who would be MVP if they (LeBron James and Dwyane Wade) both average 18 points?”
NBA on TNT analyst Reggie Miller:
“I’m on both sides of the fence here. You are speaking to a guy that spent 18 years for one organization. I would have loved to see LeBron James stay in a small market. Not everyone can play for a New York (Knicks), Chicago (Bulls) or Miami (Heat). When you have a true superstar playing for a small market, it means so much. When you play in a small market, fans live and die by everything you do. To me, him going down to Miami and jumping on the bandwagon of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh that’s great, that is going to be good basketball to see. But personally I would love to have seen him win a championship and stay in Cleveland.”
… “He is the best player in the league, can we put him now in the same category of Michael Jordan, who never left Chicago, Larry Bird, who never left Boston or Magic Johnson who has four or five rings in the same breath – no. If he would have stayed in Cleveland and won one championship built around him we would have put him on Mt. Rushmore. It’s great, I get it. I can’t wait to call games in Miami and watch these three play. But now you are going into a situation where Dwyane Wade already has one championship. He is the Derek Jeter down there. LeBron is the Alex Rodriguez. It is still Dwyane’s team. Between LeBron James and Dwyane Wade one of those guys has to sacrifice and to me it will have to be LeBron James because it is Dwyane Wade’s team.”
NBA on TNT Analyst Charles Barkley:
“The Miami Heat are in a great situation right now, they have three great players. I was disappointed, I wanted Lebron to stay in Cleveland. I don’t blame the guy but I think it will be a lot more important and significant to win a championship in Cleveland then it would be in Miami (if he wins it.)”
… “In fairness, if I was 25 I would try to win it by myself. I would make sure that I was the guy on the team. We just started giving Kobe Bryant credit the last two years. That was that stigma that he couldn’t win it without Shaquille O’Neal and you see we have elevated him because he has won the last two without him. LeBron (James) will never be the guy. I wish he would have tried to win it by himself as ‘the guy’.”
NBA TV analyst Kevin McHale:
“It was too much. It ends up being an hour special and it just seemed to drag on. It had the feel of a reality show to me. I understand it is a big decision and sports are big in the United Sates but it seemed to go on and on. I think they had a plan to make it big and fun and instead it was big and cumbersome. LeBron didn’t look very comfortable making that decision tonight.”
… “It surprised me a little bit. I just thought he was going to Chicago (Bulls) with (Carlos) Boozer, Derrick Rose, (Joakim) Noah; I kind of thought that would be a place for him. Then again, I thought he was going to stay in Cleveland. I thought it was going to be hard for him to leave.”