Friday, September 30, 2016

Lebron James is the best player/coach/GM combo in the league, and that's the biggest NBA "story line"

With NBA training camps starting, but no games to track real results, media members, I suppose including imitators like me, fill the endless digital space with "story lines." Some are corny:


But they don't all have to be. With all the fuss over Golden State's "super team," Cleveland, after becoming the first ever team to overcome a 3-1 Finals deficit to win the title, are somehow flying under the radar. I get it, I guess. The writers are absolutely in love with the Warriors and whose game is easier to love than Kevin Durant's?:
But believing the writers can certainly lead you astray. A common theme among the wise cracking know-it-alls the last two seasons, especially before Lebron James and the Cavs swatted away the Warriors, is that "Lebron is a bad general manager." It annoys them that he supposedly has the nerve to put himself on the same level as all star executive strategists like 76ers GM Sam Hinkie, the media darling who presided over the ugliest long term stretch of losing most of us has ever seen:



In much of the NBA media, Hinkie has qualified as a star GM, while James supposedly is a joke of one. A true bizarro world.

Here are the google results for "lebron is a bad gm?:"


And here they are for "lebron is a good gm:"



The reports of his being a "good GM" are rare and pretty much only meant in sarcasm.

Nobody dare criticize his performance as a player anymore. But the perception is that he is lacking in his roles as an informal coach and executive. But if it's true he calls the shots with the X's and O's and the personnel moves, I'll say he singlehandedly forms the best 1-2-3 punch in the league.

Why is Lebron James the greatest player?

This is obvious and needs no explaining. But if you want to dwell on his on court greatness, try this wonderful video (and get a look at a little "Larry Legend" greatness while you're at it.) James is a basketball wizard unlike any we've seen since Michael Jordan.


Why is Lebron James a great coach?

If he does draw up sets, he draws them well. 


In two straight Finals series he gave his team a chance to win by imposing a style, on his teammates and more importantly on his opponent, that uniquely fit what the Cavs were in position to exploit. In 2015 it was a grinding style in which he relentlessly backed down and punished a half dozen or so separate defenders while what was left of his "help," after injuries to Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, was lucky enough to be able to do the one thing they wouldn't look ridiculous doing (think Delly, Iman Shumpert, James Jones, etc): shoot wide open jumpers. Lebron the coach put Lebron the player in position to pretty much singlehandedly take the heavily favored Warriors to six games, at times convincing us all that he would not be stopped, averaging 36 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists while playing 46 minutes per game.

And in 2016, while the entire NBA following world was deeply in love with Golden State's "ball movement and body movement style of play," he was wise enough to know that if he and Irving simply couldn't be guarded, then old fashioned "iso-ball" would do the trick, especially if Stephen Curry was repeatedly targeted.


Why is Lebron James a great GM?


  1. He signed the one player that every other GM in the league would give up any player for, himself.
  2. He has surrounded himself with so much talent that even former 20/10 machine Kevin Love has become fodder for the silly writers to feed on as his opportunities are limited because (not that they understand this) who would go consistently to a third option if the first two are Lebron James and Kyrie Irving?!?
  3. The roster is also so good that the much maligned JR Smith plays the role of spot up shooter, even though anyone who has paid attention knows he can do this:



We probably won't see many "Lebron James is a great coach and GM" story lines. But if James truly does assume these roles, as he certainly has been given "credit" for doing during the trying times, I bet Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue and general manager David Griffin are glad he does such a "super" job!

In fact, he should demand a raise. Good thing he can go over the head of the nominal general manager, straight to the owner. (As of now, I haven't heard the "story" of his secretly owning the team too.)

PS - 


He'll get his way here, and he'll be right. Smith was key to Cleveland's title run. And his contract last season was a steal for GM Lebron.


Double PS - 

Warriors coach Steve Kerr knows James is the most important story line going. He opens this interview praising him, mentioning his name 16 seconds after speaking his first words in this interview on the "Lowe Post" podcast Wednesday. Almost immediately Kerr compares James's 6 straight trips to the Finals to the dominance of Kerr's former teammate Michael Jordan.


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