Surviving The Decision: The LeBron James Effect

06.16.11 7 years ago 9 Comments

The results of LeBron James‘ first year in Miami are in. And even though the Heat didn’t win it all, the team still made the Finals. Of course, LeBron still has plenty of time to prove that his “Decision” was a worthwhile one that will end in a title for the Heat.

With LeBron (and Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh) in Miami, the Heat is still in great shape, even without a championship this season. But how are the other teams, the ones LeBron said “no” to? The results are also in for those teams. None of them made it as far as the Heat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re in a bad place. LeBron’s decision not only affected the teams he denied, but it also led to a domino effect where certain players signed and were traded.

So, what are the statuses of the Cavaliers, Knicks, Bulls, Nets and Clippers?

The abandoned:

Cavaliers: The moment LeBron said the words “South Beach” and left Cleveland, disaster struck. Not just in the form of burning jerseys, but in the realization that LeBron was this team. Without him, well, the Cavs would be led by Antawn Jamison and…J.J. Hickson? Not the most promising group. Looking back, there weren’t many bright spots for the Cavs. They went 19-63, good for last place in the Eastern Conference, and had the second-worst record in the NBA. But there’s still hope: the team does get the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming draft and the chance to build around potential top pick Kyrie Irving.

Cleveland still has a $14.5 million trade exception for LeBron and haven’t used it yet (it expires in early July). As of now, the Cavs are still banking on that top pick and the No. 4 pick, which they also own. If Cleveland can snag two building blocks, maybe fans can temporarily forget “The Decision.” Then again, it’ll take a lot more than two rookies to make fans forget about LeBron James.

The spurned:

Knicks: The Knicks still had Amar’e Stoudemire even without LeBron. They never completely struck out. And with the midseason acquisition of Carmelo Anthony, the Knicks proved that they’re a team to be reckoned with…in the first round of the playoffs maybe. Imagine this team with LeBron. There would probably be no Anthony. So would Anthony have gone to New Jersey? Definitely a bigger possibility.

As the Knicks stand now, they still aren’t as good as they would have been with LeBron, but they’re getting there and are looking to add another player to rival Miami’s Big Three. Chris Paul anyone? If they get him, then we’re talking. But with their current roster, they can’t compete with the LeBron-led Heat. Or even the Celtics.

Bulls: Chicago actually had the better regular-season record than the Heat. They garnered the top record in the NBA without LeBron or Dwyane Wade. They got the No. 1 seed in the playoffs mainly because of Derrick Rose, the NBA’s newest MVP. Would Rose really have been as good as he was this year with LeBron, though? The Bulls are Rose’s team. If he were to share the spotlight with LeBron he would most likely still be a star, but probably not MVP of the NBA. With Rose leading the way, the Bulls couldn’t get past the Heat when it mattered, losing in the conference finals. But with some minor roster changes, the Bulls will challenge the Heat and LeBron for years to come.

Nets: It always seemed like LeBron was considering New Jersey mostly because of Jay-Z, possibly because of Mikhail Prokhorov, and maybe because of the team’s upcoming move to Brooklyn. But the basketball team? Not the best out there. And the Nets verified that this season with a 24-58 record that yes, was an improvement over the previous season. The Nets did get Deron Williams midseason, and he can be a sparkplug for this team if they can hold on to him. But to think…after losing out to LeBron, the Nets wanted Carmelo Anthony. But the Knicks, not to be pushed too far down after losing out on LeBron, snagged ‘Melo. So now the Nets have to hope that Williams re-signs. Only time will tell what other moves the Nets make. But there’s no doubting that they would have been 10 times better with LeBron.

Clippers: The Clippers, like the Nets, seemed like an oddball in the LeBron sweepstakes. Why would LeBron want to play second fiddle to Kobe and the Lakers? Once the Clippers didn’t get James, they rode the star power of Rookie of the Year Blake Griffin. They also have Eric Gordon, a restricted free agent next year, and DeAndre Jordan, a restricted free agent this year. These two players need to be key signees for Los Angeles. With LeBron, this team would look a lot different. All of the talent would be concentrated on LeBron, Griffin, and not much else. Now they have a more balanced team on paper. Record-wise, the Clips won just 32 games. But they’re making progress with Griffin, even if it is a little slower than it would have been with LeBron.

What do you think?

Follow Rachel on Twitter at @racmar.

Follow Dime on Twitter at @DimeMag.

Become a fan of Dime Magazine on Facebook HERE.

Around The Web