Back for part two.
I figured there was a good chance that LeBron would flee Miami for Cleveland when he opted out of his contract. That didn’t mean it still wasn’t a shock when the news officially broke that he was heading home for the next phase of his career.
I hated the first Decision and the premature celebration in Miami that came with it. I rooted against the Heat every step of the way the last four seasons. But I never hated LeBron.
One day, maybe soon, we’ll learn of the flaws in the man that every other celebrity has. But, for the most part, he is the ideal modern star. He plays hard every game. He’s a good teammate. He handles himself well off the court. His biggest fault may be whining about calls on the court, but show me an NBA superstar in the modern era who hasn’t done the same thing.
So it’s kind of fun to be able to officially like LeBron again. Anyone who chooses Cleveland over the other options he had deserves props, local native or not.
My immediate fear was that the Cavaliers might use Andrew Wiggins as the center of a trade to get Minnesota’s Kevin Love. That may still happen, but for now the Cleveland front office claims they have no plans to move Wiggs. Of course, what else are they going to say?
Still, it’s going to be crazy fun watching Wiggins apprentice at the foot of LBJ. When was the last time there was a pairing of the top player in the game with perhaps the best young talent in the game? I’m not sure Shaq and Kobe count as Jordan was still playing at the time. Jordan and Pippen don’t count because no one expected Pipped to become an all-time player. Kareem and Magic in LA, I guess? As many have pointed out, keeping Wiggins is a winning move for both players. He is more likely to become an elite defensive player before he becomes an elite scorer. That takes pressure off of LeBron to guard the best wing each night. And LeBron’s scoring takes the pressure off of Wiggins to immediately score 22 a night. He can ease into the pros, score in the low teens while he develops his shot, gets some moves, gets stronger and smarter all while grabbing 6-7 boards a night, getting a few steals, and shutting down guys on defense.
I may have to go see the Cavaliers when they come to Indy this season.
I didn’t even think of that angle until Sunday. “Oh yeah,” I realized, “the Cavaliers are in the same division as the Pacers.” That complicates the Pacers mini-rebuild a bit, doesn’t it?
Larry Bird was again aggressive early in the NBA free agency period, working to rebuild the Pacers bench. Which is fine, but I don’t think the bench in their problem. They need a point guard. They need a scorer who can compliment Paul George. They need another big body with David West aging and not knowing which Roy Hibbert will show up next year. I don’t think new bench parts will do the trick, especially when a couple of Bird’s big signings a year ago barely played.
Miami is out of the way, but Cleveland and Chicago should be much better next year. The Pacers might finish third in their division rather than roll through with the #1 seed again.
Well, the All Star Break has arrived and the Royals are in second place. Of course, they’re 6.5 games back in the division and 2.5 games back in the Wild Card race. Three weeks after owning a 1.5 game lead in the division. Their best pitcher is out for another two weeks. Other than that glorious 10-game winning streak, they can’t hit consistently through the entire lineup.
Since they dropped five of seven immediately after the winning streak that vaulted them into first place, I’ve had a feeling of dread about the team. They may get hot again, but I fear that will just do what their August run of last year did: give the appearance of competitiveness without actually contending for a playoff spot. They may stay within a few games of the second Wild Card spot. But I have no faith in them being able to make a charge ahead of the pack and claim one of those spots.
Another wasted summer for Kansas City baseball fans.