Sunday, May 16, 2010

Basketball is a Game of Matchups

Before we crown the Orlando Magic as Eastern Conference champions again, let's remember that the Celtics took them to seven games last playoffs WITHOUT Kevin Garnett.

There has been a lot of talk about LeBron since the Cavs lost last Thursday. Where's he going? Why'd they lose? Answering the second question first, the Cavs have run into two bad matchups the last two postseasons. Against Orlando, they had no one to contend with Howard, the Cavs featured big slow 4s who couldn't guard Rashard Lewis, and Turkoglu ate them up. Between Shaq, Jamison, and Turkoglu going to Toronto, all three issues were taken care of. Unfortunately for the Cavs, they ran into Boston first. Jamison couldn't guard Garnett and the Cavs decided not to guard Rondo, resulting in another series lost.

Now, the assumption is that LeBron will leave Cleveland. As a Knicks fan, I hope he goes to New York. As a basketball fan, I hope stays home. With LeBron, the Cavs will win. It's simply a matter of when. They are willing to tweak their roster when things go wrong; they've just been unlucky the last two seasons. There's still time. After all, he's 25 years old.

Respected columnist, Michael Wilbon, reports that LeBron doesn't have the will to win as some of the game's greats. He also asserts that LeBron is spoiled and coddled, exemplified by his refusal to shake hands with the Magic after last season's loss. It seems to me, that bit of unsportsmanlike conduct is more an indication of his desire to win than anything else.

In sports, as in politics, there is a habit of drawing exaggerated conclusions based on one's last performance. Just because LeBron didn't win a championship this season doesn't mean he doesn't want to win one. It also doesn't mean he necessarily needs to leave Cleveland. If he stays, the team is a title contender again next season. And they may have the benefit of being a slight underdog too. But, he's welcome in New York should he so choose.

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