LeBron James is the best player in the NBA. The skills he possesses – at his size – as well as how he affects nearly every game he plays, has a significant segment of NBA fans (although most of those are under the age of 30) saying he’s the best who has ever played the game. So to hear that he’s in the news isn’t shocking – except for why. James, after his guys lost six of eight games, not surprisingly was quoted as being highly critical of the Cavs’ front office.
After winning last year’s Larry O’Brien trophy, storming back from a 3-1 deficit and keeping the Golden State Warriors from going back-to-back, LeBron is letting everyone know that the Cavs don’t have all they need to be the team they ought to be. He expressed his displeasure saying the team needed to add a playmaker. Last year he told management to fire the coach (although he denied it). Well, they did – and then won it all.
What does management think of his comments? First of all, the Cavs have, by far, the highest payroll in the NBA, which cost owner Dan Gilbert a ton in luxury tax dough (proving LeBron is just like the rest of us – good at spending other people’s money). So it might not stun anyone to hear the front office’s response (keeping in mind they have to make sure nothing is said that can give LeBron reason to flee Cleveland again). “We believe in this team at a deep level, and we need to get better from within and play better, quite frankly,” GM David Griffin remarked. “We need to have a greater sense of urgency and start to develop a championship identity. I think it’s clear we have not been doing that.”
What do his teammates think of his remarks? One of them, Tristan Thompson, gave his assessment. “I just got to keep playing better. We got to keep playing harder. He’s right. We got to all play better. It’s simple,” said the Cavs big man. “This is the team we have right now. That’s how you got to approach the game. You can’t go out there hoping somebody is coming to walk through the door. Play with whoever the hell we got right now, and let’s win some [bleepin’] games.”
What does the media think? Not speaking for anyone but himself (to which many media members say, “Whew!”), Hall of Famer Charles Barkley chimed in, ripping LBJ. After mentioning the Cavs have a “Big Three” of their own with James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, Barkley launched into his own tirade. “They have the highest payroll in NBA history. He wanted J.R. Smith last summer, they paid him. He wanted (Iman) Shumpert last summer. They brought in Kyle Korver. (LeBron) is the best player in the world. Does he want all of the good players? He don’t wanna compete?”
It’s probably not so much that “he don’t wanna compete” as it is he just wants better players to compete with – especially after their western rivals added Kevin Durant to their squad. Yet, with the exception of those squarely in his camp, many folks believe he has something in common with actor Peter Krause (who?) who famously said:
“At this point, I’m spoiled. I’ve actually had a really blessed career.”