Sunday, May 16, 2010


Rescuing The "King"

My Post colleague Pete Vescey puts the sudden rush to crucify  the "underachieving/choking" LeBron James in proper perspective: 
Again, last I checked, LeBron was 25 and already had carried his team once (2007, his fourth year in the league) to the Finals.
Michael Jordan didn’t plead his case on the Supreme Court or win a title until he was 28 . . . with Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant and Bill Cartwright by his side and trusty shooters on the outskirts.
Neither Kobe nor Shaq won a title unless aided by one another, or abetted by Dwyane Wade or Pau Gasol. Oscar Robertson never won until he joined Kareem in Milwaukee. Magic never won without Kareem, either.
Go back to the 1980s. The lone franchise players ever to capture a championship without another Top 50 player were Isiah Thomas (twice) and Hakeem Olajuwon (once) ... and Tim Duncan (three times), but he had Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
From that viewpoint, James still has three years in hand before he "ties" Jordan in title-futility in terms of age. How soon we forget that James was frustrated by both the Bird Celtics and the Isiah Thomas Pistons before he finally broke through (Oh, and James actually got his team to the Finals in only his fourth year in the league -- surpassing Jordan in that regard). 

Does LeBron need to improve himself? Sure -- but Jordan's outside shot and defense got better as the years went by.  As Vecsey points out, it's more important that LeBron has not just a "supporting cast," but a very good partner-in-crime that will complement his greatness.

And, yeah, and after watching a decade of Knicks futility, I'd love to see him in New York.  Don't think it's going to happen, but we starved NY fans would be happy to have five straight years in the playoffs. 

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