Should We Start Blaming LeBron?

The NBA Finals return to Cleveland tomorrow with the Warriors comfortably harnessing 2-0 series lead. The Cavs will look to rebound and hold serve at home, but given the result of the first two contests, the chances of a Warriors repeat has transitioned from, “Will they win two in a row?” to “How many games will it take them to close out this series?” to “Just how bad are the Cavaliers?” to “Is this even worth watching anymore?” within most social circles.

The Cavaliers’ roster isn’t talented enough to compete on the same level as their Western Conference counterparts.

Aside from maybe LeBron James (I must emphasize maybe because he’s been outplayed by Andre Iguodala on both ends of the floor), the Warriors have demonstrated their vast superiority over the Cavs in every way, and at every position imaginable. That includes players, coaches, the front office, owners, ball boys, custodians, and even thirsty fans.

James & Co. may have steamrolled their way to The Finals without much resistance from the Eastern Conference,  but at this point it’s hard to imagine them advancing past the rebuilding Trailblazers if they played in the west.

The Cavs’ dismal performance has also unearthed some interesting personal questions, such as:

  1. Is Kyrie Irving a superstar? (Skip Bayless says yes, but he’s said some pretty dumb shit over the years.)
  2. Is LeBron’s game limited?
  3. Is Tyrone Lue still suffering from the effects of Iverson stepping over him? (Is he, though? Because he’s coaching like it!)
  4. Did J.R. Smith suddenly forget how to shoot?
  5. When should we declare Kevin Love a missing person?
  6. Did those Uncle Drew Pepsi commercials mislead us into thinking Kyrie and Love were really about that buckets life?
  7. Will LeBron ever follow the Cavs Twitter account again?

Find out on the next episode of Dragon Ball Z! (I know, this is overused and incredibly corny, but I still enjoy doing it.)

One question that I legitimately have is how much blame LeBron should shoulder for this year’s Finals debacle. Barring a monumental turnaround, James’ performance will be futilely dissected by paid talking heads to exhaustion. (Prepare for an incoherent Stephen A. Smith rant daily until the start of the upcoming NFL season.)

Some will label him the Peyton Manning of basketball. Others will continue to discredit his accolades with cretinous comparisons to Michael Jordan. (Seriously, stop this shit. It doesn’t make sense.)

But aside from on-court performance, I’m more interested in observing LeBron’s role in assembling this inept (ok, they’re not that bad, are they?) roster, and possibly, the coaching staff. David Griffin may be the GM, but James’ fingerprints are evident in every facet of the Cavs organization.

From roster decisions (I still have no idea how Tristan Thompson is making $82 million over five years) to coaching moves (Blatt, I’m sorry it had to be you, G), James’ preferences are king, even if Griffin (and James) refuse to acknowledge it publicly. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if the team’s uniforms aren’t cleared through Bron Bron before each game. (Remember that time he tore up his sleeves mid game? Has he worn sleeved jerseys since?)

The Cavs are clearly doing everything in their power to keep their hometown superstar happy, and I don’t blame them. They’re hell bent on avoiding another 2010 catastrophe (no one wants to witness another Dan Gilbert temper tantrum and jersey burning rituals). But at what cost?

At LeBron’s behest, the Cavs have over-invested in a power forward to just rebound (Tristan Thompson), traded away a promising wing player for a power forward who only shoots and rebounds (Andrew Wiggins for Kevin Love), given away assets for two inconsistent role players (draft picks for Shumpert and Smith), and fired a veteran coach in favor of a rookie. Not to mention they’ve devoted unnecessary playing to Matthew Dellavadova, the league’s dirtiest, most maladroit player. (Seriously, why the fuck is he even in the NBA? He fucking sucks. Are there some advanced statistics that I’m missing proving otherwise? Because the eye test says under no circumstance should you ever pick this dude up, even at a rec center.)

I’m sure LeBron’s return to Cleveland, for as heartfelt as it was, came with very specific stipulations and a metric-ass ton of control, especially after Dan Gilbert’s tasteless, vitriolic tirade (it was pretty terrible). And I certainly understand James’ lack of confidence in Griffin’s ability equip him with a championship caliber supporting cast (relax LeBron, no one is going to sign Shaq for the veteran’s minimum anymore).

But whatever the case, the Cavs mortgaging their entire future hasn’t resulted in another ring for King James, and it isn’t likely to. Only now, it’s probably his fault.

Hoping The Warriors Lose In The Finals Because Of Steph Curry’s Cockiness Is Dumb

Thanks to either an apocalyptic meltdown or a resurrection reminiscent of Lazarus (I prefer meltdown, but, eh, to each its own), the Warriors will play the Cavs tonight in a redux of last year’s mediocre NBA Finals.

Frankly, I don’t care who wins. I can easily tolerate a “Greatest team in the history of the NBA” narrative the same way I can a “Prodigal son returns home to provide a championship to a desperate fanbase.” I just want to see some competitive basketball and a few entertaining post-bucket celebrations. (Staredowns, stomps, shimmying, all the shit is welcome.)

But one thing that’s making the fuzz beneath my balls crinkle is the growing number of casual basketball fans who are hoping for Golden State’s demise because they believe Stephen Curry has turned into a cocky piece of shit.

Curry used to be humble, nah mean? Like, he won MVP and got a ‘ship and now he all holier than thou, and disrespectful and what not. I don’t like that shit!

This is the dumbest shit that I’ve heard since DC fanboys tried to convince me “Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice” was cinematically more realistic than “Captain America: Civil War.” (It’s not. Sit yo’ salty ass down somewhere with that nonsense.)

You mean to tell me that this light-skinned, son of a professional basketball-playing father and a collegiate star-athlete mother (and she fine), husband to a modelesque wife (I don’t care what you say bruh, she fine too), who has his own signature shoe, and is a starting guard in the NBA, suddenly became arrogant between last year’s championship and now? NO. That’s idiotic.

Curry has been cocky since the day he was born. While you were busy snacking on pasteurized cheese products, Steph was devouring healthy portions of Foie gras. His childhood room was most likely a combination of Richy Rich meets Theo Huxtable. He was playing one-on-one with NBA ballers while you were throwing rubber rec balls at a makeshift hoop constructed with milk crates and duct tape. He’s been cocky for awhile now.

I know we’ve become accustomed to this lovely notion that Curry is just a humble, God-fearing, family man who’s strength comes from those around him, some of which is probably true. But it’s also the feel-good fictive that the NBA wants you to devour. It sells tickets and moves merchandise from stockroom shelves to the confines of your living room.

Beneath this veneer there also exists a self-absorbed, endogenous, “ball is life” assassin. And that’s not necessarily a terrible thing. You can be cocky and decent at the same damn time. Just as you can be unpretentious and a dick, at the same damn time. It can happen.

ALL PROFESSIONAL ATHLETES ARE COCKY, SOMEWHAT NARCISSISTIC HUMAN BEINGS. Every last one of them. Because sometimes it’s necessary.

Becoming a specimen that is paid to perform at a supremely elite-level is hard as fuck. While most have been gifted with some fortuitous physical traits (like being seven feet tall), and blind luck (like being the seed of a professional athlete), it’s still a steep road to trek. (What up doe Marcus Jordan?!)

Thus, if you don’t have some belief that all that is good and pure in the entire world revolves around your undeniable greatness, you will fail. (BELIEVE IN YO’SELF DAMMIT!)

I’m not referring to confidence. That’s for regular folks. It’s reserved for mere mortals who sort through data sets, prepare lesson plans (I love teachers), or muster up the courage to ask an attractive chick at Buffalo Wild Wings for their number.

What I’m talking about a supreme aura created with the knowledge that you can alter the fabric of the entire universe.

It’s what drives some of the best athletes to devote countless hours and an inordinate amount of energy to their craft. Their professional existence is centered on the notion that an entire organization’s success will be determined by their performance.

If you’re bothered by Wardell Jr.’s brash celebratory outbursts –like staring into someone’s soul after obliterating their ankles or turning up court after shooting an improbable 3-pointer before the ball hits the bottom of the net – get over yourself. J.R. Smith practically catches the Holy Ghost every time he nails a shot despite having none of the accolades or superlatives currently in Curry’s possession.

Professional athletes are paid to entertain, excite, and do crazy-difficult shit – like hit 35-foot, game-winning bombs with ease. Listen, you can root for, or against, whoever you want, it’s your prerogative. There are a myriad of reasons to not like the Warriors. (They win too much, they make shit look fun, they’re not your team, pick one.) But don’t hate on someone because they’re not the person you want them to be. That’s fucking stupid.