Basketball is a simple game — the team that is better at placing a rubber ball through a circular hoop wins. Over the course of an entire season, the team that does that better than anyone else wins a championship, and for the last four years, no team has done that as well as the Golden State Warriors.
In three of those four years, the Warriors have vanquished the same foe to achieve championship glory: LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. There was one time when the tables were turned and James came out on top, but over the last four years, the Warriors have been the toast of the league. Entering 2018-19, they might be even more well-equipped to do this than ever before, as Golden State added All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins to the fold.
Sure, it’s totally plausible that Cousins never does much for the Warriors. He’s a big man coming off of a ruptured Achilles, an injury that has caused irreversible harm to the careers of other centers. Even if he does come back, it might not be until late in the regular season. But the one place where Cousins is healthy is in NBA 2K19, where the Warriors are a juggernaut. For those trying to play MyLeague, taking down Golden State in year one will almost certainly be a trying task.
Which brings us back to James, who is the subject of today’s experiment. He has shown to be the metaphorical thorn in the side of the Warriors — even in the three series Golden State has won over James and the Cavaliers, James has managed to get his, sometimes even keeping Cleveland in games when the rest of the roster was having an off night. Which got us to wondering: What would happen if James never had to worry about the rest of the roster, because everyone was exactly the same as him?
Here’s how we tried to achieve this:
- The original James was traded back to the Eastern Conference. I randomly picked a team and chose the Knicks, so if you are a Knicks fan who has long dreamed of James playing at MSG, congratulations! You’re getting five of him.
- All of the created players — Lerbon Janes, Larbon Jams, Jebron Lames, and Evan Kalikow (named after a friend of mine from college) — are exactly the same as the four-time MVP.
- The bench for the Knicks went mostly untouched, but that’s partly because all five starters are playing 48 minutes a night. To compensate for this, fatigue has been turned off. Additionally, team chemistry is off, the difficulty is set on the hardest level (Hall of Fame), and injuries are all turned off, because this is an idyllic experiment, and in an ideal world, no one feels physical or emotional pain.
- I simulate straight through the entire season. It must end with the Knicks and the Warriors meeting in the Finals. If that does not happen, I restart the season. If it does, and the Warriors win, I restart again. We’re going until The LeBrons are champions.
Let us begin.