Justice Is Served

May 28, 2010 10:45 AM

Summit of the NBA stars: Can they exist together?


So LeBron James and Dwyane Wade plan to summit, eh? They want to discuss how they can conspire to win a championship by putting together a team of all stars. I guess they figure a championship ring is more important than loyalty or integrity.

In LeBron's case, it probably is. He has everything else a basketball player of his stature could want, and if he couldn't carry the Cavaliers to a title with all the franchise has done to accommodate him, he should know that starting afresh makes no sense with unfinished work here to do.

Wade, though, has an NBA title. He won his with Shaquille O'Neal, which might suggest to a man like LeBron that the best way to win a championship is to have two megastars in the lineup.

But I see something not quite sporting about Wade's behind-the-scenes wheeling and dealing. Yes, the free market allows for men like LeBron, Wade, Chris Bosh and Joe Johnson to have a meeting of the minds, but is that what the NBA has come to?

Report after report has Wade talking about casting his lot with another star, and it seems to be the thinking of LeBron, too. His reticence hasn't helped to clarify his intentions.

Is he staying in Cleveland or going?

It remains the multimillion-dollar question that hangs over the Cavs, their fans and the league like the blade of a guillotine. It's the 24/7 topic of local media and on ESPN, and for understandable reasons: No class of free agents in history has had the potential to shape the NBA for the foreseeable future as this one does.

Yet to shape that future, to alter the competitive balance in so crass a fashion, mocks what the NBA is all about.

Maybe it isn't about the money, but I suspect if LeBron, Wade, Bosh and others had to leave more of it on the table to sign with another team, they would be hesitant to make that kangeroo's jump.

Theirs is a leap of faith, a belief that elsewhere is better than here - wherever here happens to be. Going west, young man - to hijack a slogan from America's yesteryear -- might not bring as much joy as staying put.

To the league's credit, officials had put measures in place that they thought - wrongly, this situation should show them now - made staying put more attractive than going. 

The measures "don't work too good," as some of my friends might put it. These stars can build a championship of their own, but they seem bent on building one with no appreciation of what a legitimate championship is about: smart trades, quality player development, etc.

No one should begrudge these men for not understanding or appreciating this. Nor should anybody indulge these men's appetites for winning a championship the wrong way. It's all about the ego, as much as these men deny that it is.

For none of them can be Kobe or Russell or Jordan or Magic or Bird without a fistful of championships. But they can't be Kobe or Russell or Jordan or the rest if they need to conspire to win titles.

Summit if LeBron, Dwyane and Bosh must, but they might want to make sure that conspiring to win doesn't cloud the fact that winning at all cost might be making a devil's bargain.

Inflated egos can be a combustible mix, particularly among stars. So when Wade has the ball and LeBron and Bosh are waiting for a pass, can any of them enjoy winning if the praise must go to someone else? 

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