Part 1: Reaction to LeBron's Decision
It cannot be denied that LeBron James’ basketball talent is out of this world. He is fun to watch. He has a lot of potential. I always think that if LeBron adds Kobe Bryant’s intelligence, arsenal, and attitude to his God-given physical gift and already marvelous raw skills, I would yield of LeBron as being the best, maybe even the G.O.A.T.
However, whatever achievements he has, for me, he’s incomplete and definitely below Kobe Bryant. Sure, LeBron statistically dominates Kobe, but we all know that stats are unfair and not compatible with Kobe’s game. Statistics can’t measure Kobe’s greatness. What makes Kobe better is not only because of his deadlier (deadliest in the NBA) wide-range of offensive weapons and smarter defensive mentality than LeBron, but the attitude that led Kobe to have those.
And why does Kobe have such versatile game? Again we come back to the attitude Kobe has and LeBron lacks. The awesome focus that even Chris Rock can’t crack… the fiery competitive “take-no-prisoners” gunslinger spirit… the mindset that ignores the box score and treat wins as the most important statistic… all these things drove him on continually improving his skills and knowledge. LeBron does not have Kobe’s attitude of continually adding something to his arsenal. Probably because since his powers are already enough to dominate almost everyone in the league, he probably did not see any reason or need to develop them further. Which is a pity, such a waste of potential.
I’m not saying LeBron is lazy. Kobe himself respects LeBron and commends his work ethic. Definitely, it took a lot of work for LeBron to get what he has now. However, Kobe’s attitude is the kind of attitude champions have. Magic, Bird, and MJ have it. Always being up to the challenge. And this kind of attitude is what sets Kobe apart from LeBron. LeBron does not have this “champion’s attitude.” And LeBron’s decision to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh to form a “Three Kings” in Miami, seems to me, proves the point.
Plenty of people had already addressed LeBron’s ego going on an overdrive, his douchebaggery for screwing Cleveland, “If he wanted to raise money for the Boys/Girls Clubs, he could have donated the dollars and saved Cleveland the embarrassment”, and all that. So, I will not go there. Probably, they are right. But what I would talk of is what is more important to me. LeBron James being a rightful rival for Kobe Bryant. The Bird to Kobe’s Magic. Which would not really happen anymore. Sure, the Lakers and the Heat would probably have a rivalry, LeBron would probably win a championship or two in Miami, but it’s not going to be the same.
Personally, I wanted LeBron to leave Cleveland (though not in the classless manner he did). For the sake of an epic rivalry with Kobe. LeBron should have a class city and fanbase. And that is New York. I was rooting for the Knicks to get LeBron. Kobe vs. LeBron. LA vs. NY. That would be a classy rivalry for years. It will make history.
Or if not NY, I might settle with the second best. Maybe Chicago. Chicago would do. Or the Nets. Heck, I would even prefer the Clippers over the Heat. As long as LeBron be the main man and would have a supporting cast that could rival Kobe’s. NY could build that (probably) in a year or two. Chicago already has such cast with Boozer, Noah, and Rose. Clippers will never do, so forget what I said about preferring the Clippers over the Heat.
The main point is LeBron would be the Man on that team. The General. That would mean that LeBron is up for the challenge to take Kobe on. I would root for Kobe and the Lakers, but would respect LeBron and his team and would even congratulate them if they win over Kobe and the Lakers. Thus, LeBron would show me that he has the “champion's attitude”, a worthy rival for Kobe Bryant, and has the right to join Kobe’s page in history.
Unfortunately, he is not up for that challenge of taking on Kobe “The Greatest Player in the Planet” Bryant. "We don't have the pressure of going out and scoring 30 every night or shooting a high percentage." The way LeBron said it shows this. No “champion's attitude” at all. Creating a powerhouse (or potential powerhouse as we still don’t know who are the guys that would fill the rest of the Heat’s lineup) with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh tells us that LeBron believes that he can’t beat Kobe without riding on with two other superstars.
I am disappointed. No, not disappointed, I am frustrated. I am mad, I am rapid, I am foaming in the mouth (not really, just an exaggeration. I borrowed that line from a senator's outburst here in the Philippines). LeBron’s decision destroyed my fantasy. And for that, I am almost as angry as a Cavs fan right now.
In my attempt on trying to make sense of it all, I can only think of two probable reasons why LeBron chose Miami. First, which I already mentioned, he does not have the “champion’s attitude” and is desperate on winning a title since he believes it is impossible to beat Kobe on his own.
Or, maybe this decision is another attempt to feed his ego and desire to be more popular than Kobe. Wondahbap wrote: “Staying on LeBron, I'm finding him increasingly more annoying everyday to the point of dislike. I try to like him. I watch him often. I admire his game, and don't want to make this seem like a Kobe over Lebron hatefest, but he's just so corny sometimes. And arrogant. Probably insecure. At times phony. Defintely a frontrunner. Some people accuse Kobe of all of these things, and they probably have valid points. It just proves how corny LeBron can be, because he straight-up copycats everything Kobe does. Kobe takes a book from MJ's page and relishes games in Madison Square Garden? Here comes LeBron tagging along. It's so special to him all of a sudden. Kobe changes his number? LeBron wants to change his. Kobe has a penchant for sometimes taking ill advised three-point shots? LeBron takes stupid threes more and more. Kobe puts on the serious face and steely demeanor during the playoffs? Now dancing, air camera, picture taking LeBron decides it's time to play no games and get all stone faced. Now the elbow? Seriously, I don't believe his elbow hurts for a minute. He watches Kobe get this praise for being a tough-as-nails warrior, so he has to overdramatize an elbow injury enough to make Paul Pierce want to sue for infringement. So LeBron's elbow hurts so bad, he has to shoot a free throw left handed. Right. Pun intended. He sure seemed like he was having a hard time keeping a straight face filling us with his crap. Boo frickety hoo."
If Wondahbap is right in this assessment, then LeBron’s decision on joining the Miami Heat is another attempt of his to steal Kobe’s thunder. We all know that though Kobe is much loved by many, there are also those who hate him deeply. This level of animosity Kobe receives from his haters is probably unrivaled in the history of the NBA. Thus, LeBron wants to steal that from Kobe, too. He wants to have the same level of animosity – maybe even to surpass it – which Kobe gets from haters. And LeBron probably succeeded since most of the hate on Kobe shifted to him.
If it’s true, then it’s disappointing that LeBron wants to surpass Kobe’s popularity rather than his greatness.
Part 2: The Threat of the Miami Heat
I read somewhere that Miami has a terrible fanbase and does not deserve a championship. But they would probably win at least one (maybe two or three) in the next six years with Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh – the so-called “Three Kings” – with them. Just give them a good supporting cast, some luck that would give them good health throughout the season, and a system that would give the perfect chemistry and, voila, instant championship.
Oh, the Miami Heat is now a threat to my beloved Lakers’ goal of multi-championships in the next years all right. Some fans are much worried. And I can’t blame them. Heat has the potential to overthrow the Lakers. But I think as real Laker fans, we have a responsibility to not worry. To not doubt. Phil Jackson might now be already thinking of ways on how to defeat them. Kobe is probably smiling in delight on having the chance to destroy them with one blow. Steve Blake is impatiently waiting for that time he can prove his worth to the Lakers. Pau Gasol is itching on proving that he’s the best big man right now. Sasha Vujacic is raring for the chance on redeeming himself by reviving the Machine. Andrew Bynum is counting the ways he would embarrass the Heat’s center whoever he is. Ron Artest is reminiscing every day the high he got when he won his first championship and that he is hungry for more. Heck, even Derek Fisher, already planning ahead, might have just pretended he was interested on playing for the Heat to obtain an invitation to visit them, but was actually doing reconnaissance for the Lakers.
Dexter Fishmore made a poll in Silver Screen and Roll on how worried we are about the Miami Heat. It is heartening to know that the majority (me included) voted “not worried” though there are still some who said that that they are very nervous about it. Well, let me encourage you brothers and sisters of Lakerdom. We should have faith on our beloved Los Angeles Lakers. They are the best. They are champions. And they will fight as champions.
Also take note that LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh had been able to play together already in the past (in the international tournaments) and they did not win any gold at all until Kobe came along. And in the previous World Championship where the “Three Kings” were playing together, without Kobe, they only ended up bronze. Remember who won the gold? Yup. Espanya! And we got the MVP of the tournament, Pau Gasol, on our team. So, please don’t be frightened of these “Three Kings” and the Miami Heat.
Even when the time comes that the Lakers will become the underdogs and the Heat would ultimately win it all, don’t expect the Lakers to quit at all. Kobe Bryant, leading his Lakers, will go down with guns blazing. Lakers will take a last stand a la Alamo. And when defeated, they would be focused and ready to take back the championship the next season. And that is if the Heat can beat the Lakers at all. As fans, we should have the mentality to presume that the Heat can’t beat the Lakers.
Again, as fans, we have the responsibility to show no fear. No panic. No worry. And to maintain faith on this team that we love. And love comes with trust. Thus, we should trust the Lakers to the fullest. We should have the attitude the crowd in Staple showed in Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals. I love that attitude. Down by 13 and never giving up, thus energizing the Lakers. Well, not all of us can cheer for the Lakers in Staples, but we should nonetheless have that kind of attitude of support for the Lakers. Worrying or being pessimistic will never help, thus we should be always positive on our attitude. Sure, we may point out the flaws that we see them make, but we should not doubt that they can’t make the adjustment to fix it.
Not all of us will have the chance to watch and support the Lakers in Staples (me included) but our attitude and support still matters and may affect the Lakers, as much as the cheers (or jeers) of the home crowd, in a butterfly-effect kind of way. So, if my attitude can affect the Lakers in a butterfly-effect kind of way, I will not take any chances. I would be optimistic and cheer and encourage, that maybe in a butterfly-effect kind of way, it would contribute to the Lakers’ success. Therefore, I write this to maybe start a small ripple of optimistic feeling for all Laker fans.
As for the Miami Heat and their fans and the so-called “fans” that jumped into the Miami Heat bandwagon, in behalf of all Lakerdom, I would like to convey the message that we are not afraid of you. As a dare to you, let me borrow the catchphrase of a once Miami resident, who is now a Hollywood actor and, I think, is a Laker fan:
JUST BRING IT!!!
The Lakers’ll bring the whuppin’ to your candy asses!