More Cavs/Celtics Fallout

Bill Simmons, ESPN: You cannot call what happened in the Cavs-Celtics series an upset. Boston played better in five of the six games. The C’s had four of the five best players. They were better defensively. Their best player (Rajon Rondo) played better than Cleveland’s best player (LeBron James). They had playoff-proven guys who kept coming through. They had better crowds. They showed more heart. This was not an upset … but still, it felt like one. And only because we were duped by Cleveland’s faux urgency (for most of the season, it felt genuine) and Boston’s retro-urgency (for most of the season, it was dormant). The playoffs hinge on toughness, chemistry, defense, leadership and urgency. Cleveland lost all those battles. Every one of them. … If he cares about winning titles (multiple) and reaching his full potential as a player, he has only one move: the Chicago Bulls. That’s always been the play. If you’ve been listening to my podcast or reading this column, you know that I’ve been touting this possibility since the winter, and here’s why: Deep down, I think LeBron (and, just as important, the people around him) realizes that he needs one more kick-ass player to make his life easier. That means Miami or Chicago. And really, I can’t imagine him signing with Miami because Dwyane Wade is almost too good. LeBron wants help, but he doesn’t want to be perceived as riding someone else’s coattails, either. Wade might be the best player alive for all we know — he certainly was in 2006, and he’s been banged-up and trapped on bad teams ever since. No, Chicago makes more sense. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah proved they were warriors these past two springs. They could be LeBron’s Pippen/Grant or McHale/DJ. Easily. Rose could take the creative load off LeBron on nights when he doesn’t have it. Rose could come through a few times in the clutch. Rose could hide some of LeBron’s faults. It’s the single smartest basketball move for LeBron James.

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: Whether by design or defeat or both, he’s made it possible to get out while the going is great. To hand-pick another group of sycophants to have his way and never have to answer for His Way, however misguided. The tri-state area, Miami, Chicago, who knows? He doesn’t even want to know. He just wants to get back to remembering what it’s like to be the self-proclaimed “King.” The sort of guy who has to remind you what he wants his nickname to be. Doesn’t have to answer for nine turnovers in a deciding game. Won’t have to answer for not attempting to take control of the game until the latter stages of the fourth quarter, and only in the form of a couple of desperate 3-pointers that happened to go in. Won’t have to answer for that defense, which was embarrassing. Just has to answer to the question, “Who’s the NBA’s best player?” It’s still James, you know. Just because we don’t really care for him at the present, it doesn’t take away from his greatness. We’ve all got brains big enough to handle him being the game’s best player and a crushing failure as a leader when it counted most in this series. If anything, it should add to the enmity that you’ve no doubt developed over the last week for this ghost. This person who should know better, but doesn’t want to hear it.

Israel Gutierrez, Miami Herald: If it is true that James is about winning first, as he insisted in his postgame, post-series, post-Cleveland interview Thursday, then this is an automatic. If his obvious frustration with Cavs teammates and their inability to function without him is a driving force for LeBron, then playing alongside Wade will offer him exactly what he desires. When you consider that the Heat can sell a player like Michael Beasley to a team with salary-cap space to create enough space to sign a third substantial star, possibly a big man like an Amare Stoudemire or Carlos Boozer, then it only makes Miami more intriguing because of the real possibility a true dynasty can exist. There are two arguments against Miami that tend to dominate, neither of them making much sense. The first tends to be ego. As in, James’ ego won’t let him come to Wade’s town and not be the obvious attraction. It might be Wade’s town, but in basketball terms, it’s LeBron’s world, as Kevin Garnett confirmed after Thursday’s game. It has been for a half decade, practically, and sharing space with Wade can only help his global takeover because it’ll finally offer him that championship that has escaped him. No matter where he goes, James will not play second fiddle. Besides, it’s practically necessary these days, when you think about it, to have a player of similarly superstar caliber by your side. Kobe Bryant had arguably the best post player in the league, at the time, helping him win each of his four titles, first Shaquille O’Neal and now Pau Gasol. No one does this alone.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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