Have to admit, I really haven’t watched much of the NBA this season.
Yet, you don’t have to be an adamant follower to get the same feeling I had when I saw the end of the Nuggets-Lakers Game Three late Saturday night.
With six seconds remaining and the game obviously in the balance for the Nuggets, the Lakers’ Lebron James walked off the court with some other teammates to the locker room. ABC’s cameras followed him there.
I am an old school guy, and I found that appalling. Maybe it’s acceptable today, but it also provides another example of how the game has changed. On the local front, you just have to look back on how Kevin Durant’s and Kyrie Irving’s stay with the Nets went.
When James was with Cleveland and Miami, I could see how he won those NBA titles. He was the transcendent player who could carry a team and had the perfect role and support players around him. James simply played the game, and also was a great defensive player. He isn’t that type of player now.
Yes, the 38-year-old James is showing signs of his age, and his outside shooting in the series has been called into question. He still does have the ability to take control at a pivotal moment like he did in some spots of Game Three against the Nuggets. James needs to just to play the game, and leave everything else to the appropriate people.
However, this is about the person James and other high-profile hoopsters – as well as some in other sports –have become. The dynamic between player and coach has changed, and it isn’t good for the game. The old-school coaches have been pushed out the door, and many of modern-day appeasers have been put into place for the megastars who run the game.
He truly has adopted and played his “King James” personna to the point where no one can stand in his way. Just ask former coaches Luke Walton and Frank Vogel who both lost their battles with him. Walton was a budding newcomer on the sidelines, and Vogel was a respected veteran who will get another shot with another club in the future.
Neither could guide and direct him in the player-coach relationship. This has been James’ team and you have seen the results.
James’ stances about everyday life – particularly his political ones – have fueled his “KIng James” identity. He should stick to simply being who he is – a basketball player. We don’t need to hear his opinions about everything else.
Current head coach Darvin Ham is a company man who does his best to placate him. This shouldn’t be the case, but apparently this is how the game works today with several teams.
Did Michael Jordan have his way with Phil Jackson in Chicago? How about Kobe in LA? Don’t believe it happened. There may not have been a total melodious situation in Chicago and LA, but Jackson made it work to the tune of 11 titles.
It would be interesting to see how James would work with Jackson. Somehow, I get the feeling Jackson would get the upper hand, or he would walk.
Speaking of walking, the Nets lost a good basketball coach in Kenny Atkinson when Durant and Irving decided to run the show in Brooklyn. You saw how that turned out.
Durant didn’t exactly help Phoenix this season, and the Suns’ early exit cost head coach Monty Williams his job. Irving never clicked with Luca Doncic in Dallas, and the Mavericks were 8-12 with him and missed the playoffs.
Irving is a free agent, and there has been plenty of chatter about him joining James in LA to reignite their golden days they had together in Cleveland.
It’s too late for James to change his ways, and a title in Tinseltown isn’t a safe bet. Instead, it may be time to abdicate his throne, and let the game gets its system back in place.