Posted by Royce Young
Think about this for a second: In two weeks or so, David Stern will be handing an NBA championship trophy to either LeBron James or Mark Cuban. My mind? Blown.
Someone's life and career is going to change. Someone will now have the tag "NBA champion" to hang around their neck for the rest of time. Either Dirk, Mark Cuban and Jason Kidd or LeBron, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade (for a second time) will be hoisting that shiny ball. That's an obvious thing at this point, I realize, but I can't get over it.
Cuban's Mavs had their shot in 2006, of course losing to the Heat in six games. That series is widely known more for the way the officials rewarded Wade free throws than it is for great basketball. Which naturally fits the Cuban narrative. Cuban has always been a bit of a nemesis to Stern and the league office with his crazy over-the-top antics and criticism of officials. For example: Cuban has been fined 16 times in his 12 years as the Mavs owner for a total of more than $1.5 million.
And now that guy is four wins away from the greatest bragging rights of all?
Then there's LeBron. He became the NBA's enemy No. 1 after his decision to play in Miami with Wade and Bosh. The preseason victory parade then set people off more. Then all the arrogance leaking out of South Beach took things to a new level.
Most saw LeBron's move as a total copout, as a guy running from the chance to become a legend in his hometown. Critics said, "Michael Jordan wouldn't want to join them, he'd want to beat them." Larry Bird actually did say that. So did Magic Johnson. There was the best player in basketball, painted as a coward for leaving his Cavs high and dry to try and chase a title with a couple friends.
Instead of battling through and leading Cleveland to the title he promised years before, LeBron ran away. It was always obvious that he lacked proper help with the Cavs. I mean look at what the roster did when you took him away from it. They flirted with the worst record in history for about three-fourths of the season and set a record for most losses in a row. And really, the only thing that would've been different about that team is LeBron would've been on it. They likely would've won 55 games, probably would've gotten to the Eastern semifinals or deeper and almost certainly would've come up short.
Now? It's almost like LeBron's decision could be entirely validated. He could be vindicated. He could win that elusive ring at the age of 26 and possibly start a run to multiple championship, which is again, a promise he made to his new fans in South Beach.
And now that guy is only four wins away from some career validation?
David Stern will be presenting a trophy to either the Mavericks or Heat in roughly two weeks. The fact that on one could be LeBron or Mark Cuban just makes this NBA Finals even more intriguing. And probably, for the fans of 28 other teams, kind of a lose-lose. But to me, it's win-win. I love when a legacy takes a turn. I love when it changes and we have to start re-thinking and re-writing how we feel about people. And after this series wraps up, that's exactly what we'll be forced to do with one of these sides.
Crazy to think about.