Basketball Sparring Partners


Latest in the long line of basketball icons to comment on the LeBron James move to Miami and the cowardice or lack-there-of inherent in the move is Pat Riley, the very president of basketball operations to sign the Chosen One.

When asked if he thought LeBron was taking the easy way out, Pat had this to say:

It’s BS. That’s what I would say to it. I really do. I think that’s a joke. That’s just people who want to say something for the sake of saying it. I’ve been at it five decades and I know what a championship team looks like and you better have three great players if you want to win multiple titles or you want to be a dynasty.

That has pretty much been the Double Dribble take from day one, but as I thought about Riley’s reaction, it occurred to me that this union of star players could lead to major improvements for each of them and in a sense may test their greatness in a way that playing singly on “their own” teams would not.

Think, if you will, of the great teams of the past. How did the presence of one great player impact the next? I’m sure examples can be taken from the earliest MVPs and the earliest dynasties, but I’ll speak to my generation. People know the stories of Michael Jordan battling Scottie Pippen in practice, molding him into a great #2 on the Chicago Bulls, but most people don’t know how hard Jordan worked in college to be the best in North Carolina. From the start of his freshman year he was calling out James Worthy telling him he was the better player. Was it true? Not yet. But that was Mike’s goal. He had to be better than Worthy, and being on a great NCAA team with Big Game and practicing against him every day gave him that measuring stick. Charles Barkley credits Moses Malone with teaching him everything about the NBA game, and when you look at the best offensive rebounders and low post scorers in NBA history, you’ll see both of their names. Tim Duncan received a crash course in NBA post skills from David Robinson before his rookie season ever started. Kobe spent the first half of his career killing himself in the offseason to try to overtake Shaquille.

So what will it mean for Wade and LeBron to go at each other in practice? LeBron’s talent and Wade’s intensity clashing, each player trying to stay ahead of the other… They could elevate each others’ games, maybe not dramatically in a statistical sense, but in meaningful ways.

Plus can’t you just picture the two of them lining up to play a little one on one after practice one day, and Mario Chalmers runs back to the locker room like Mouse in the Matrix, and calls out, “Morpheus is fighting Neo!”

LeBron's neurokinetics are way off the charts!

One Response to “Basketball Sparring Partners”

  1. pmadavi Says:

    DW: I know crab-dribble.
    LBJ: Show me.

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