LeBron James is getting a lot of praise for what people portray as a great achievement, winning championships -- and Finals MVP awards -- for three different NBA teams. But I’m here today to rain on that parade.
The reality of that feat must be tempered by the fact that with those teams, he had the advantage of surrounding himself with players of his choosing -- in most cases, superstars or even Hall of Famers.
He didn’t just play for Miami, Cleveland (on his second tour there) and the Lakers, he served as a de facto general manager.
His moves to different teams were never because he was randomly traded there, but because he chose to join them for the opportunity to have a better team than the one he was previously playing for.
He was ring jumping.
His decision to “take his talents to South Beach” and leave Cleveland was because he could play with other superstars -- D-Wade and Chris Bosh -- who could take the pressure off him.
He returned to his hometown team in Cleveland only when that team had been improved enough to give him a chance to win that he didn’t have the first time around.
Then, he went to Los Angeles for the Lakers -- along with Rich Paul, his lifetime friend who created the player agency Klutch Sports, which has guided clients to play alongside James.
Paul (and certainly James, behind the scenes) forced the deal that sent Anthony Davis to Los Angeles. And he helped Rob Pelinka bolster his reputation as the architect of the Lakers' success by filling half the roster with Klutch Sports clients.
James was constantly upgrading his situation. That’s smart business. But if you want to judge a players’ ability by how much he’s won, you have to take into consideration what went into winning those titles.
There has never been another NBA player with as much control over his own destiny and roster (even coaches?) than James.
Michael Jordan waited seven seasons to win a title, because he stayed put in Chicago and felt a responsibility to try to give that city a championship. He was loyal, in other words.
Think he couldn’t have won championships in other places, had he chosen to cherry pick his way onto other talented rosters? Of course he could have done it.
A lot of players have been traded with no say in the matter. LeBron has NEVER changed teams without it being his idea and his choice of destination.
So can we just cool off a little about his great achievement of winning titles -- or even Finals MVP awards -- for three different teams?