Without true allegiance to an NBA team, I find myself able to root for whoever I want. Having an attachment to a star player drives my interest in particular teams. I watched every Chicago Bulls game that WGN aired during the Michael Jordan era. During his first two championship runs I would secretly pretend to root against him in an attempt be different, but I couldn't keep it up. He was amazing. He was as fierce of a competitor that has played professional sports. You could see determination on his face every night.
It wasn't until LeBron James came into the league that I regained a team interest. He sticks out like Jordan. It doesn't matter what game you put him in, he is always the best athlete on the court. He brings an energy that no one else in the league can match. Similar to Jordan, I can't help but root for him. Since joining D-Wade and Chris Bosh I have become a Heat fan. No hiding this time, I freely admit it.
As much as I wanted to jump on the OKC Thunder bandwagon, it never worked. Kevin Durant is special and Russell Westbrook is nasty but it wasn't a match. Blake Griffin has earned star status this year, and I'm certain he's had the most individual coverage on ESPN, but the Clippers organization is a circus. As much as I have enjoyed watching Griffin blossom, I would never put myself through the pain of investing in the Clippers as an organization.
The pairing of James and Wade has taken a fair share of criticism. How can two guys who need the ball as much as they do coexist? I think they can, but without Wade, LeBron would turn any team he plays on into the Cavs. He doesn't have the psyche of a leader. It's not that he doesn't give effort, he just sort of falls into bad habits and becomes a detriment to the offense despite his endless talent.
Perhaps his natural gifts made him mentally soft. He became too accustomed to success and personal glory. He was always the best and didn't get tested enough. He is a freak, and I bet he felt like one growing up. It shows when he tries to be "one of the guys" even though he shines much brighter than any star in the NBA. That doesn't mean he's not total diva and used to being praised 24/7. He hates criticism and his game suffers for it. He's a great teammate but not a great leader.
The team suffers when LeBron tries to take over a game by going one on one every possession. His stubbornness makes me believe coach Eric Spoelstra is afraid to get in his face. James brought the offense to a halt nearly every time he touched the ball last night and failed to adjust the entire game. The same problem he had in Cleveland come playoff time. It might take a coach like Phil Jackson to help LeBron turn the corner. He doesn't seem to have the ability to learn from his mistakes. With the Heat, he will have to learn to hold himself accountable, not the ball.
Even though his tough games are few and far between, his instinct to play one on one basketball has cost him in the playoffs. This season's playoff pressure will be dialed way up for LeBron. Questions about his legacy will continue until he can get over the hump. Once James gets his first ring he will be unstoppable, but he has to mature before he'll win one. One man's talents alone can take you a long way in the NBA, but not all the way. Until LeBron understands that, the championships will elude him. Once he does, there is no limit for his success.