Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Message to LeBron: Loyalty doesn't win championships

Message to LeBron: Get out of Ohio if you want to win.

LeBron James is the NBA's biggest superstar. At the age of 25 he already has 2 MVP awards and has scored over 15, 000 points. Ever since he came out of high school in 2003, he's been compared to former NBA superstars like Jordan and Magic. But the player in NBA history who LeBron compares best with is Oscar Robertson. The Big O, like King James, was a physical specimen who could do pretty much everything on a basketball court. Robertson is still the only player in NBA history to average a triple-double for an entire season.

The Big O was a 6-5/220 pound player who could play both guard positions and small forward. Lebron's size of 6-8/260 now is pretty comparable to 6-5/220 in the 1960's. Now 6-5/220 is average size for a shooting guard. So in many aspects Robertson was the original LeBron.

Both players have roots in the state of Ohio. LeBron grew up in Akron where he would become arguably the most celebrated high school basketball player ever. Robertson was a legend at the University of Cincinnati, where he would lead the Bearcats to two final four appearances. The Cincinnati Royals used a territorial draft pick to obtain him in 1960.

Just like King James, the Big O spent the early part of his NBA career as a superstar playing for an average team that could never get over the hump and win a title. Just like James, Robertson played in the state of Ohio. Robertson spent the the first 10 years of his NBA career playing for the the Cincinnati Royals (now the Sacramento Kings). In Cincinnati, he never made it past the Eastern Conference Finals. Mainly because the Boston Celtics were in the middle of being the greatest dynasty in NBA history.

Then in 1970 at the age of 31, the Big O was traded to the Milwaukee Bucks where he would team up with young Lew Alcindor (who later changed his name to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to win his only NBA title. The Bucks were competitive for the next few years, losing in the championship to Boston in 1974. After that season the Big O retired at the age of 35 with one NBA title.

Back in the 60's, free agency didn't exist and player movement was at a minimum with a few trades here and there. Ironically, Robertson played a pivotal role in NBA history by filing an antitrust suit against the NBA. His suit helped reform restrictions on free agent signings. This led to higher salaries for players and was a the first stepping stone in the massive free agency movements were see today. Without Oscar Robertson, there is no LeBron press conference tonight to announce where he'll play next year. LeBron would be stuck in Ohio forever.

So where will King James be playing next year? My guess is as good as yours. But King James should learn from Robertson and Kevin Garnett. Both players were loyal to their average teams and then had to wait to the twilight of their careers to win one NBA title. I'm not saying LeBron has to sign with Miami to form a super trio with Wade and Bosh. But if LeBron wants to win he needs to get out of the cursed state of Ohio faster than you can say "Maurice Clarett is fat."

1 comment:

  1. I never knew about Robertson's antitrust suit, pretty interesting stuff.