If Lebron Stays in Cleveland….. If

For the Cleveland Cavaliers to win an NBA Championship, they’re going to have to learn how to build the team around James.  Atleast they’re off to a start by FINALLY firing Mike Brown.  He had absolutely no clue what to do once the team got into the postseason.  He was reshuffling lineups and looked as confused as a hungry baby in a topless bar.  He should have never been hired period.

Now for all of the pundits who say that LeBron needs a Scottie Pippen or a Robin, YOU’RE WRONG!  James likes to play with the ball in his hands.  When Cleveland lost this past postseason to Boston, LeBron was trying to play unselfishly.  He tried to get his teamates involved, but there was absolutely no rhythm within the offense.  Let me put it this way, you wouldn’t have Albert Pujols bunt to move a runner over, you have him swing away!  Essentially what I’m saying is Cleveland should have never brought in Shaq or Jamison, and Mo Williams should be coming off the bench when the King needs his rest.

Here’s where I wanted to compare LeBron James to Allen Iverson.  I know they play two completely different positions and have two completely different physicues.  Iverson is so skinny he could hula-hoop with a cheerio as LeBron is built like a Greek God; but their playing styles are rather similar.  They excell when their teamates get the hell out of the way, so they can create and penetrate the defense. 

In 2001, Iverson won the NBA MVP and the Philadelphia 76ers made an NBA Finals appearence.  They lost to the Los Angeles Lakers in 5 games.  That Sixers squad consisted of a plethora of “lunch pail guys.”  These were players that were unselfish, hustled, played defense, and could hit an open 10-15 foot jump shot.  The only other “star” on that squad was Dikembe Mutombo, but he was by no means a scorer.  That season, the 76ers led the NBA in rebounding margin (+3.9) and offensive rebounding efficiency.  Iverson was able to roam the floor freely, penetrate and put up shots.  He knew if he missed, his teamates would go get it off the glass and put it back in.  If Iverson was double or triple-teamed, he had the confidence in his teammates to hit an open jump shot.

    

Here was the starting line-up and key bench players for Philly (Not Exactly Spectacular)

  • C- Dikembe Mutombo- Excellent shotblocker and rebounder
  • PF- Tyrone Hill- Arguably the ugliest player in the NBA (besides Popeye Jones), but he could defend and rebound 
  • SF- George Lynch- Solid defender, loved the baseline jumper 
  • SG- Allen Iverson- The scorer 
  • PG- Eric Snow- Ran the team effectively, defended and hit key shots
  • BENCH
  • G- Aaron Mckie– Won the NBA 6th man award
  • G- Kevin Ollie– Solid defender, Larry Brown loved this guy
  • F- Jumaine Jones – Another solid defender who could score
  • C- Todd MacCulloch– Defended, rebounded and had a solid FG% 

After the 2001 NBA season, Philadelphia fans protested and griped for the Sixers to go get someone to start alongside Iverson.  Philadelphia tried by acquiring veterans such as Matt Harpring, Keith Van Horn, Glenn Robinson and Chris Webber.  The 76ers never made it back to the NBA Finals, let alone make another Eastern Conference Final.

 The Cleveland Cavaliers made an unexpected run to the NBA Finals in 2007, although they were swept in the Final by San Antonio.  The Cavs won 50 games that season and earned a #2 seed in the postseason.  They upset the #1 seed Detroit Pistons in 6 games in the Eastern Conference Finals.  Everyone remembers LeBron’s amazing performance in Game 5 of that series, one of the greatest in NBA Playoff history.  He had 48 total points, the team’s last 25 points and 29 of the last 30 points.  In a lot of ways, that team was very similar to the 2001 Philadelphia 76ers.  They didn’t have many stars; they had a core of solid veterans who defended, rebounded and could hit an open shot.  Cleveland haven’t made the NBA Finals since.

 So again to reiterate, Cleveland needs to make over the team just a bit.  They don’t need stars, they need to go back to what they were back in 2007.    Essentially, if they had 10 more Anderson Varejao’s on their team, they’d be great.  Next season, James is entering his 8th season in the league.  It took “His Airness” 7 seasons to pick up his first of six NBA Titles.  Even Phil Mickelson had to overcome the media and obscurity until he finally won his 1st major at the 2004 Masters.  Mickelson now has 4 Major Championships. 

 

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