The Reason No Superstar Will Sign with the Lakers
Let’s back up a bit. Back up to 2016, when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the NBA title in franchise history from being 3-1 down in the finals. It was unprecedented, against a team full of all-stars that just went 73-9 in the regular season, almost poetic in its wish fulfillment. The King led the charge from the front, becoming the first player to lead both teams in all major statistical categories in an NBA playoff series. It was perhaps the greatest finals performance in league history. However, it did draw a bit too much attention away from his teammates’ efforts. Kyrie Irving was 2nd in points, 2nd in steals, 4th in assists, and 2nd in three-point percentage among starters in that series. Ten players, five all-stars- surely the youngest of those stars putting up this kind of numbers would get everyone’s attention, right? Wrong, because all the media could talk about was LeBron’s victory over the Curry led Warriors. Kyrie’s contribution to the series was reduced to a single series clinching shot, seven games of consistently high numbers reduced to a 4-second clip. So when Kyrie came into his own and asked to be traded to a team where he could be the main man, I wasn’t surprised. He wanted to escape LeBron’s shadow. The question right now is, will anyone be willing to take his place?
When Kobe came into the league, he was more than happy to be Shaq’s robin in that threepeat. But as he got older, he grew more restless to show the world that he could win on his own, that he could be Batman. In the current era, winning as the lone superstar on a team is nearly impossible. But even in the Justice League, there is only one Superman. And that’s what the new generation of superstars hope to be when their team wins a title. This is why Paul George and Russell Westbrook can play off each other, because they have accepted their individual roles in the team. They’ve left it up to the league and the fans to decide which one of them is Superman now. Chris Paul is at an age where he’s perfectly happy to see Harden take home the Bill Russell Trophy as long as he gets a ring. Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis- they’re all looking for other stars to join up with coming summer. As long as they get a ring, they’re happy to narrowly lose out on the title of Superman and settle for Batman. And if the team goes to the finals again next year, they have a pretty good chance of usurping that Superman position themselves.
But things are different when you’re teammates with LeBron James. He is “The King”, and the best you can hope for is to be his right-hand man. You will never be the Batman to his Superman, and there’s little hope that he’ll be passing the crown to you in the future and taking on an advisory role. So the only capable players that are willing to lace up alongside him are either aging stars or erratic yet talented youngsters. The funny thing is, I would have imagined the same thing happening to Curry and Durant a few years ago. But Golden State has a system that can keep anyone but the most egotistic players happy. You go there, put up great numbers and lose out on Finals MVP to Kevin Durant, you’re still on the same level as the greatest shooter in league history. Funny how things work out, huh?