An open letter to LeBron James: You’re better than this

At your best, LeBron James, you are the best player in the NBA. Its all been said before, but you’re a devastating combination of size, strength, shot-making ability, and decision making. You’re the only player one can reasonably compare to Magic Johnson–a true playmaker (not a point guard, a playmaker) in a big man’s body.

And that’s the reason why you need to play the second fiddle if the Miami Heat are going to be serious contenders.

Anyone who’s watched a Heat game so far this season (I’ve watched three, will watch a fourth tonight as you travel back to Cleveland) can see the problem. You and Wade are two of the three best players in the NBA. You’re both prolific scorers, tenacious defenders (when you want to be), and smooth ballhandlers. But on the same team, your talents cancel each other out. The Heat don’t function when you two megastars are playing, and it’s awkward. Wade feeds to you, everybody clears out and watches. And vice versa.

Obviously, you’ve both been the premier talent on every team for which you’ve ever played. That amount of talent produces winning. That much winning (along with everybody in your lives telling you that you are gods) produces an ego–an ego that doesn’t go away easily. So while you’re the best player on the Heat, Wade was there first. You and Wade are good friends, so I understand that you don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings–you want to share. But, secretly, you both want to be “the guy.” You both want the ball in your hands. You both want to dominate the game. And still, perhaps more than either of those, you both want to win.

Which is why LeBron–being the better player, the more complete player, the nightly triple-double threat–you need to hand your half of the reigns back to Wade. Let Wade be the man who averages 30 a game.

Think about it. You’ve flushed your image into the land of Nemo. Nobody likes you. All you have left is basketball, so why not do it as best you can? LeBron, you could average a triple-double. Absolutely. Doing that would show that you didn’t go to Miami for fun. You didn’t go to dominate another team. You went to win. People would take note. People like winners.

So bring the ball up the court. Pass it, and then MOVE. Make a cut–Wade might find you. Set a pick–Miller will be back soon, get him open looks. Go to the post–you’re bigger and stronger than most power forwards in the league, let alone smalls. And, for basketball’s sake, rebound. You are a fast break waiting to happen, but only if you rebound–then, bring it up yourself and find a cutting Wade or take it the house and draw the foul.

LeBron, don’t get me wrong. I don’t like you anymore. I did when you were in Cleveland. You had me fooled. But I’m ready to forget (not forgive) if you can show me your full potential. Your team isn’t good enough to beat Boston yet, and I’m okay with getting you to the point where you are thisclose. Closer games makes for better basketball. Better basketball means more revenue. And more revenue means that maybe, just maybe, there will be a 2011-2012 NBA season.

I hope you take this seriously, LeBron. If you’ll remember–it is your job. And this, sir, is what you should do.


China, Fine

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