This summer when everyone was piling on the Heat and LeBron James for the way they handled the decision one piece of news that everyone pointed to as being the “right” way to handle your business was Kevin Durant’s no nonsense twitter contract extension announcement. Today when reading the recap of the Hornets loss to the Thunder I was struck by a quote from Chris Paul.
“That’s on me,” said Paul “That means we’re not executing. I have to do better. I’m going to go home tonight, watch the game, figure out ways to help. As a point guard, I think it’s my fault. I pride myself on being able to win those games, up four with [five] minutes left.”
No excuses, the leader of his team recognizing that his team has dropped four out of their last five games and putting it on his shoulders. If you contrast that against recent quotes from James you pick up a subtle difference.
“Right now, we’re a 9-8 team, and we have to own up to that. Does our record speak of what team we can become? No. I don’t think so. But we are 9-8 because we’re playing like that. We have to figure this thing out, which we will.”
Is James blaming other people? No, but is he taking responsibility and putting the team on his back and saying I’m the defending two time MVP I can and will fix this? Bill Simmons writes for every team to win a championship they have to have a player step up and be the alpha dog and right now neither Lebron nor Wade are willing to do it. They fear it will hurt their friendship. LeBron eluded to this problem in the press conference after their win over the Wizards.
Which is fine for now but they need to figure it out how to play effectively together before they get to the post season. Tim Legler points out that going into the Washington game James and Wade are a minus -38 when on the floor together without Bosh. There are five ways that this plays out.
- Either one is injured and out for a significant period of time. This would allow the other to take control of the team without stepping on the others toes. But what would happen when the other came back, would they accept the role of second fiddle?
- LeBron recognized the teams needs a presence in the paint and moves to power forward and/center. The Heat rank 26th and offense rebounding rate and tied for 15th in overall rebounding rate. What would happen to LeBron’s stats if he moved down to the post? Would this validate all the writers who have criticized him for wanting to be a global icon instead of spending the offseason developing a low post game?
- LeBron and Wade develop a pick in roll game together. When Lebron first made the decision to take his talents to south beach all I could dream of was them running pick in rolls all day with Bosh at the opposite elbow and 2 spot up shooters at the 3 point line. What do you do as a defense to stop this?
- They never figure it out loose in the playoffs leading to a summer of speculation of if the team would be better off trading one of its stars. Then the question becomes who do they trade?
- They never figure it out. Dan LeBatard has said multipul times that he thinks they can win it all without everyone fitting together. He points out that Artest never fit in, in LA and they were still able to win the title. The difference Artest was the 4th or 5th most important player on the Lakers. Can a team win with their top two guys not playing well together?
Do they figure it out, time will tell but we have to keep everything in prospective. The Lakers and Celtics both played mediocre basketball down the stretch and were able to turn in on. Mike Miller is going to come back, there are going to be some veterans who get bought out of their contacts after the trade deadline looking for the league minimum but none of that will matter if Wade and Bosh can’t figure out how to play more effectively together.