by Yusuf Gadlin
After LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the pitiful Atlanta Hawks to advance to the NBA finals, I crawled into bed and wondered what NBA superstar would put a halt to the LebBon James era that has unofficially begun. I made cases for every superstar in the league and best case scenario was they “might” steal a year from King James.
LeBron, 30, has ascended to another level as hard as that is to imagine. Playing in the Eastern Conference with this current group of Cavaliers almost assures the king another four trips to the NBA finals. There isn’t enough talent in the East to derail the Cavaliers train of multiple cracks at NBA championships.
The fact that LeBron raised his deficient teammates level of play in spite of the crippling injuries suffered by Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to reach his fifth straight NBA finals is simply amazing. I can’t help but imagine the feats the Cavaliers are going to conquer once they are blessed with a clean bill of health and another year playing with each other. It is the great intangibles that make James one of the greatest basketball players of all time. For example, LeBron’s unselfishness is something to really be in awe of. He truly has a genuine satisfaction by passing the ball to his teammates and watching them thrive. This is unheard of from a player of his magnitude. James also has the God given ability to bring out the best in his teammates. All you have to do is look at what he’s done for his fellow teammate Matthew Dellavedova.
Dellavedova would probably be cut from every team in the NBA if it wasn’t for LeBron James. The NBA powerhouse somehow convinced “Delly” that he is a defensive menace capable of stopping any point guard in the league, view his defense on Bulls guard Derrick Rose if you don’t believe me. It is James unparalleled ability to speak life into a teammates game, and it won’t be long before they are doing things that they thought they could never do.
Speaking of never do…
Who would of thought LeBron could get troubled teammate J.R. Smith to focus solely on basketball. Smith has laser like focus and has been a knock down shooter for the Cavaliers all playoff long. Smith attributes his renewed focus to there being nothing to do in Cleveland but play basketball. That may be true, but I’m guessing a few conversation with LeBron might of had something to do with Smith’s reemergence. Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, Timothy Mozgov, all seem to buy into the belief that LeBron sells them about themselves. Those two underrated intangibles to go along with LeBron’s scoring and his ferocious defense has Cleveland positioned well at least the next four years, assuming LeBron doesn’t opt out of his contract and plays else where.
Now back to the others in the East.
The Chicago Bulls were the toughest opponent the Cavaliers faced so far in these playoffs. They were eliminated in six games. If Derrick Rose can’t get back to his former MVP self and stay healthy there is no way in the next four years Chicago has a chance of getting pass the LeBron James era. Factor in the dysfunction within the Bulls organization , and you might be on the verge of a rebuild project in Chi-town. You can look at the pitiful top seeded Atlanta Hawks who won a Eastern Conference high 60 regular season games. The Hawk proved a team full of role players can’t beat a superstar led team with a bootleg San Antonio spurs system. The Hawks were embarrassingly swept by the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals and if they don’t find a superstar free agent to lead them to the promise land, I see them as no real threat the next four years of the LeBron James era. Now, If Kevin Durant comes home to the Washington Wizards things may become very interesting as he would join the ultra talented John Wall and Bradley Beal. Until that happens I can’t see Washington dethroning King James seeing how they lost to the very Hawks that were destroyed by these Cavaliers. Maybe Dwade and a healthy Chris Bosh can advance the Miami Heat pass LeBron and company? Is it possible, yes, is it likely, no.
And that’s the problem in the East.
Everything is a “if ” or ” maybe” concerning the other top three seeds in the Eastern Conference. The Wizards, Bulls, and Hawks have to make franchise altering decisions very soon if they want to keep pace with the Cavaliers. They must act quickly and swiftly and hope the results lead to a NBA finals berth or championship win. The LeBron James Era has unofficially begun, if these teams don’t make the necessary moves but also the correct ones, they will fall victim like pass teams that fell to Michael Jordan and those dominant Bulls team. In essence they will give LeBron their best shot, even a scare or two, But in the end LeBron James will prevail.