Thursday, June 25, 2009

LeBron and Shaq are not Batman and Robin

Why can’t LeBron James suffer like Kobe Bryant?

Ever since Shaquille O’Neal was traded by the Los Angeles Lakers in 2004, it appeared Kobe was cursed never to win an NBA championship without Shaq.  It took a Kobe five years to do it alone, but he did it.

Can’t the King go the same route? Can’t he pay his dues, so to speak? LeBron is still only 24 years old. What’s the rush? He’s only been in the league for six seasons.

Jerry West had to play 12 years in the NBA before he finally won his first championship – at the age of 33 – but West needed 7-foot-1, 275-pound Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain to get him over the top.

But LeBron wants his NOW. Which is why the Cleveland Cavaliers traded for Shaq who will try to do for the King what Wilt did for West. Except the 7-1, 325-pound Shaq will turn 38 during the playoffs next season and that’s asking a lot for a guy of Shaq’s stature to defer to LeBron. Shaq was supposed to be the missing piece for the Phoenix Suns when they acquired him late in the 2008 season and stuck him in the middle of an All-Star lineup. Well, Shaq had as much impact in Arizona as Matt Leinart and the Suns’ franchise is fading like a cactus in the desert sun.

So what we have is an NBA-title-or-bust scenario this coming season in Cleveland and they will have to go through a healthy Kevin Gannett and Boston and Dwight Howard and an inspired Orlando team. If the LeBron and Shaq don’t win it, it could be one-and-done for both players. LeBron will leave Cleveland and find another team that offers a Kobe-like supporting cast to lead him to an NBA championship and Shaq will look for the best deal that will portray him as the missing link.

Good luck, King. Good luck, Shaq, You’re going to need it. I hope you suffer together.


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