Friday, December 24, 2010

No One Man Should Have All That Power

“It is so much simpler to bury reality than it is to dispose of dreams.”
—Don DeLillo

So LeBron opened his mouth about contraction. I assume this was at least semi-prompted by a reporter, but I don't think that is much of an excuse. I'm on record as not having a problem with his free agency machinations, but this is taking things a bit too far.

"Hopefully the league can figure out one way where it can go back to the '80s where you had three or four All-Stars, three or four superstars, three or four Hall of Famers on the same team," James said. "The league was great. It wasn't as watered down as it is [now]."

Say what? I'm not going to spend the time on Basketball Reference to really break it down, but that's nonsense. Sure, there are seven more teams in the league than there were in the 80s, but how much is that offset by David Stern's global reach? I have to go wrap my presents in a minute so I'm not going to find the exact demographics, but you have to figure that the Manus, Yao Mings and Dirk Nowitzki's make up for a good portion of that "watering down". The talent pool the league skims the top of may not be large enough to field thirty teams as strong as those twenty-three, but if not it can't be off by much.

Beyond that, though, LeBron is just making things up about the 80s. It's hard to fault a guy who was born in 1984 for having his history wrong, but if he isn't going to do the research he should probably avoid making concrete statements that are so blatantly self-serving. The media narrative about 80s ball being teams not stars is predicated on the only three teams that won titles that decade playing a strong team game. Bird and Magic shared like few other superstars ever have1 and the Bad Boy Pistons' ringleader was the prototypical star point guard. That league had its share of stinkers too. It's hard to argue that a decade where only three teams won the title was had a better competitive mix than today, when five teams have won over the past ten years.
1: I am legally obliged to point out here that LeBron has the least selfish game of any superstar wing since those two dudes, but you knew that.

LeBron has every right to be wrong, I suppose. The real reason this puts my hackles up is that he's telling thirty guys that they should be fired. I get why he wants to hearken back to a mythical time when every team had "three or four superstars"2 because then he wouldn't take so much flack. But this sort of talk undercuts the players' union in a really shitty way. If he disagrees with them philosophically I'm all for him airing that tactfully, but he's directly saying that the NBA would be a better place if the six worst players at each position didn't have jobs. Maybe he thinks that's true, but if I were his union rep I'd be screaming at him. Those thirty guys don't affect the money in his pocket, so why is he trying to take theirs? If you're going to buck the union this hard, you damn well better be able to back it up with facts, which he doesn't come close to doing. I can see a legitimate case being made for contraction, but this doesn't come close. Merry Christmas, scrubs, LeBron's made up history obviates the need for your jobs! Enjoy the D League and Europe!
2: Of course, if every team had three or four superstars, we would all mentally recalibrate our superstar threshold, because in a world with sixty basketball superstars superstardom would be meaningless.

Palate Cleansing!

It would be unseemly to throw up an unmitigated negative post in the midst of our staunchly non-denominational (wink wink!) holiday season! To make up for that, here are a few presents from those of use here at the No Fours central office.

To start, the two most wonderful non-dunks of the past week.

Hedo, that's a pretty bad way to start the conversation.

Andray Blatche has the power to let power go!

Finally, everyone's favorite Tom Waits Christmas non-carol. Happy holidays one and all, merry Christmas, happy belated Hanukkah, and a joyous Kwanzaa to every one of you!

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