On my way home from work today, I listened to Bill Simmons’ podcast with Miami Herald columnist, Dan Le Batard. As you can imagine, they talked about the Miami Heat not winning an NBA championship, because that story is far more interesting than the Dallas Mavericks winning it.
Among other topics, they talked about the way that LeBron James, perhaps subconsciously, defers to Dwayne Wade, whether in interviews with the press, or mocking Dirk Nowitzki. It all started (perhaps) after Wade yelled at James in front of a sold-out arena in Game Three of the NBA Finals. Since then, this has clearly been Wade’s team. (Heck, Wade is even introduced last during pre-game player introductions.)
So this begs the question: Can LeBron function properly when it’s not his team?
Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that James’ style of play is better suited to being The Man than being Second Fiddle, and that, through some type of basketball process, the Heat cannot win a championship with two Alpha Dogs on the court. They just cannot co-exist. The team would be forced to endure Chris Bosh collapsing in a heap every time the team loses.
So where does this leave us?
Here’s a crazy idea: Trade James back to Cleveland.
[Editor’s Note: You can’t trade a player back to the team he was traded from for one full year, unless the player was waived, but we all know you can’t waive James. After June 30th, however, you can make this trade.]
In the podcast, Le Batard said he talked to a coach immediately after Game Six who thought the Heat would be better off if they traded James to Orlando for Dwight Howard.
But why not put him back in Cleveland, where he is comfortable? Now that he has a year of being away under his belt, it could be the ultimate redemption story. And, if Cleveland can somehow retain one of their draft picks, they can draft a point guard who James can feed off of.
I mean, it would be the ultimate redemption story.
Dan Gilbert calls a press conference where James, for once in his life, shows some remorse, and tells the city he is truly sorry for leaving them, similar to how an ex-boyfriend comes crawling back to the girl he knows he truly loves.
From there, James devotes himself to living up to his full potential, something that most experts agree he is not doing.
If the team can then surround him with some decent players who he can actually defer to, immediately the team becomes a threat in the East, especially as the Celtics get older.
Can you imagine what would happen if (or, rather, when) they meet the Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals?
Pure, unadulterated bedlam.
I know there’s a better chance of the Real Housewives of Orange County settling their differences, but from a sport’s fans perspective, it would be the ultimate story.
Image borrowed from Keith Allison’s Flickr page.