Blog Entry

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

Posted on: December 23, 2010 11:17 pm
Edited on: December 23, 2010 11:25 pm
King James wants to destroy multiple fanbases in the NBA in pursuit of a return to the 80's.  Posted by Matt Moore

Akron's favorite son apparently hadn't done enough damage to the small-market Cavaliers. After leaving them high and dry in free agency on national television without so much as a text for a heads up, and then returning to a rabid chorus of boos only to detonate them on their home floor, LeBron has pretty much buried Cleveland as a franchise in rubble over the past six months. 

Now he's kicking the dirt over the leftovers. 

Ken Berger of reports that LeBron spoke to reporters prior to Thursday night's Heat game in Phoenix and managed to support contraction without saying contraction (always the delicate soundbyte for LeBron): 

“Hopefully the league can figure out one day how it can go back to the situation like it was in the ‘80s,” James said. “… The league was great. It wasn’t as watered down as it is. You had more [star] players on a team, which made almost every game anticipated -- not just a Christmas Day game, not just a Halloween game. I don’t ever think it’s bad for the league when guys decide that they want to do some greatness for the better of what we call a team sport. 

“I’m a player," James said, "but that’s why the league was so great. You can just imagine if you could take Kevin Love off Minnesota and add him to another team and you shrink the guys … I’m just looking at some of the teams that are not that great. You take Brook Lopez or you take Devin Harris off teams that are not that good right now and add them to a team that could be really good. I’m not saying let’s take New Jersey, let’s take Minnesota out of the league. But hey, you guys are not stupid. I’m not stupid, but I know what would be great for the league.”
via LeBron: Contraction would be 'great' for NBA -

So LeBron thinks that the teams which are "not that great" should be contracted. Getting past the question of whether or not he's flirting with tampering with Kevin Love, Brook Lopez, and Devin Harris, it's pretty easy to make the argument that Cleveland's going to be "not that great" for the foreseeable future... since LeBron left. With the 17th biggest media market, you'd think that Cleveland would be safe. But if we're eliminating the Nets in this scenario, we're killing off a team soon to inhabit Brooklyn. Cleveland's got to be on the eventual list of targets should the league begin to contract. 

And speaking of the Nets in this scenario, how is James' friend Jay-Z going to feel about his buddy not only turning him down in summer, but then suggesting his team should be contracted?  Jay-Z's invested in the Nets, has pitched players as an owner, and yet his one-time supposed protoge is discussing simply disintegrating his team and selling off the pieces for parts. That's got to make for a few awkward texts. 

Regardless, my colleague Ken Berger thinks that LeBron's right and that contraction is a great idea, that it would create more talent on the teams that exist, with multiple stars.  But in the 80's when we had that wonderful time, we didn't really. The Lakers did, as they do now. Back then they had Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Mychal Thompson, and Michael Cooper. Now they have Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom, Ron Artest, Andrew Bynum, and Derek Fisher. The Celtics did, as well. with Larry Bird, Robert Parish, Kevin McHale, Bill Walton, and Dennis Johnson. The Celtics now have Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Rajon Rondo, Shaquille O'Neal, Kendrick Perkins, and Nate Robinson. And if we contracted? Those same teams would have even more All-Stars, leading to more Boston versus LA battles. But would it make the rest of the league better? 

You had the Sixers at that time, a fading dynasty with Julius Erving, Maurice Cheeks, Andrew Toney, and Moses Malone. You had the Houston Rockets with Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. But really, it was just LA and Boston who were great teams.  And the same would happen now. You might have New York or Chicago use their market influence to make a push, but in reality, you'd still have what you have now. Three teams with championship potential, and a bunch of Washington Generals wandering around. 

David Stern has been clear throughout the CBA process that changes must be made to revenue sharing in an effort to improve competitive balance. The problem isn't these teams dragging the league down, the problem is how difficult it is for small market teams to succeed. They can, they just have to be nearly flawless, as the Spurs have been. And big market teams can fail, but they have to be steeped with horrific decisions to not prosper, as in the case of the Knicks over the past decade and the Clippers over the past ... forever. 

When James says he wants to contract teams that are "not that great" he's basically playing on what's going on at this very moment. For example, if Glen Taylor were to either sell the Timberwolves, or move David Kahn for a GM with a more competent plan outside of "Boy, I hope Ricky Rubio is awesome" then Kevin Love may not be wasted at all in Minnesota in a year. When the Nets move to Brooklyn and can attract free agents with a new arena in the Burroughs, things are likely to turn around. What then? Do we then contract whoever's bad that point? If the Suns tank after Steve Nash retires, do we eliminate the Suns? What if the Blazers sink to the bottom as their injury history mounts to a breaking point? 

There are legitimate economic reasons to contract, including the viability of the league in markets which may not be big enough to support it. But simply in an attempt to create more great teams? We'll simply be making elite teams more elite, perpetuating the problem. 

Here's a better idea. With the most obnoxious free agency ever perpetrated by their three stars, followed by the most disappointing two months of basketball in NBA history and the team clearly a step behind the Celtics in pursuit of a championship, why don't we talk about sending those star players elsewhere? Why don't we talk about contracting the Heat. Maybe then James will give pause before he starts trying to advance his reign through the elimination of entire fanbases. 

Since: Dec 26, 2010
Posted on: December 26, 2010 8:29 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

You had deeper teams in the '80s, which was LeBron James' main point. The Los Angeles Lakers at one point rolled out a team that featured Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Norm Nixon, Jamaal Wilkes, Bob McAdoo and Michael Cooper mostly in their primes. The Detroit Pistons "Bad Boys" teams, those Celtics teams featuring Larry Bird -- they were stacked with talent.

And it's also the other solid contenders, like the Milwaukee Bucks, Atlanta Hawks, Portland TrailBlazers, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, etc. The good teams typically could roll out a strong seven- to nine-man rotation where guys were starter material, if not stars in their own rights.

In today's NBA, the Los Angeles Lakers have a deep team. The Boston Celtics are deep, but most of those guys are in their mid-30s so that team won't stay together long. I could say Dallas and possibly San Antonio. But the majority of the teams (including Miami) are not as complete. It's all the more accentuated by the lack of centers in today's NBA, because frontcourt depth is an even bigger premium since the days of George Mikan.

Some teams can't even fill out their lineup with a decent starting five, like Cleveland. And it's not just the lottery level teams -- teams like Charlotte made the playoffs with little more than two above average players (Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson) and an average Raymond Felton. Milwaukee nearly won a first-round series with little more than a rookie Brandon Jennings and some spare parts around him (arguably the Bucks' best player. Andrew Bogut, didn't even play).

And this is not exactly some new revelation LeBron made -- the quality of depth along the NBA rosters has been scrunitized since when the NBA added six teams in an eight-year span by the mid-1990s. The influx of international players has helped bolster the talent, but you still have some rosters with guys who are not NBA-caliber, IMO.

Since: Dec 26, 2010
Posted on: December 26, 2010 8:12 pm

People are going overboard with this

I swear, some people want to just use any angle to take shots at LeBron James. Newsflash: He's not the first person who has brought up the subject. Jerry West (former NBA great player and general manager) said the same thing more than a year ago. I've been saying the NBA has too many teams for about 10 years now.

It's not as much as the markets but the diluted talent in the NBA that is the problem. You've got teams like Charlotte that had little more than Stephen Jackson and Gerald Wallace as above average players and an average Raymond Felton that made the playoffs a year ago. For that matter, look at the New York Knicks this year -- Amare Stoudemire, Felton and a bunch of young, decent wing players and that team has made some noise.

Personally, the NBA could shed six teams. But realistically, I can see two moved and several others relocated to other cities. The NBA would be best served to look at the teams whose loss would be the least invasive in NBA history. The teams I would look at contracting or relocating:

1.) Los Angeles Clippers
2.) Toronto
3.) Charlotte (relocation to Louisville, Ky., or Cincinnati)
4.) Memphis (relocation to Seattle)
5.) New Orleans (relocation to Charlotte)

The NBA could work a deal where Michael Jordan's ownership is transferred to the Hornets and that team moves back to Charlotte. The Bobcats franchise is relocated to another city, like Louisville, Ky., or Cincinnati.

Since: Nov 3, 2010
Posted on: December 24, 2010 6:28 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

You sound as if making the "elite more elite" is a problem. That sounds great. The standard of play would increase and even the bad teams would be better than today's bad teams.

Since: May 22, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 2:08 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

Nice acticle couldnt agree more but  Leborn where would you fit in on those squads in the 80's these teams played with heart.The PLAYERS didnt plan to join up with each other in the off season they played with the guys managemnent put togewther thur trades and the draft sometimes a freeagent fell into their hands but the players didnt put their paws in the mix. aagin where would yo fit in yo dont want the ball to finish games like the great ones do. actually you would have had to pay your dues in college because it was very rare for guys to come out of hig school a couple did Malone and Kemp but they were ahead of yo mentally tough nothing personal but your mental stae is what cost Cleveland a tilte.As for condensing the league i guess since you are the so called chosen one yo might want to meet with the emperor Stern before talking his plan is global that means everyone included in the league so yo get a more watered down product.  

Since: Sep 29, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:38 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

Awesome post... i couldn't agree with you more!

LBJ has clearly chosen the route of the villian, and eventually he will act as if he is being vicitmized.

It is sad to believe that he once could have been the "Savior" of the league only to have squander that reputation away.

Since: Jan 25, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:34 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

Step away from the anti-Lebron bandwagon, and realize that the young man is spot on here. He's only using those teams as examples of teams' talent that could be distributed elsewhere. He wasn't calling for the contraction of that team!!! 

I know he's just a 25 year old soon-to-be billionaire narcissistic jerk but do we have to grill every word he says? And then speculate that he's trying to get rid of Cleveland. 

Try to read between the lines and you would see a simple truth of what he was trying to get out: Contraction would vastly improve the on-court product of the NBA. Take away the guaranteed contracts and it's even better because the benches would be deeper and players would be more hungry to earn their position and pay days.

Would it make financial sense? I don't know but Lebron is talking only about the product on the court and he's right, it stinks.

Since: Jul 7, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:30 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

The Dolphins are a top NFL franchise, and would never be contracted, please buy a clue.

Since: Sep 29, 2008
Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:28 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

Im sure that this will do nothing but hurt my ratings here on CBS, but when are we going to stop listening or even asking the opinion of this baffoon. He is a self loathing, illiterate, ignorant piece of garbage who clearly believes that he is a voice of reason in the NBA. Why dont they ask any other player what their beliefs are. Maybe we should ask someone like Tim Duncan who is educated and has accomplished more than LeBron. Instead we are giving this guy exactly what he wants... Attention!!!!

Please, Please, Please stop writing about this guy. He will never in the top 5 all time players in the NBA. He has ruined his legacy and he is a coward, a boy in a freak of natures' body. It truly is unfortunate that we have to take anything this guy says and make news out of it.

Since: Aug 17, 2006
Posted on: December 24, 2010 1:17 pm

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

I'm guessing that LeBron just figures that his slice of the pie isn't big enough, and if he gets enough of the $300,000 a year players jettisoned from their jobs, he will get more money for himself.  Unfortunately (for him), he probably isn't taking into account revenue lost by getting rid of teams in different cities and losing revenue in each of those cities.  In the end we just see more proof of how big his head really is, and his popularity goes down even more (perhaps along with his jersey sales).  Oh well, he should consider being humble every once and a while even though he is a great basketball player.

Since: Oct 24, 2010
Posted on: December 24, 2010 11:37 am

LeBron James misguided in contraction yapping

I LOVE the last paragraph. YES, contract the Heat! ONLY the Heat.....

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