LeBron & Carmelo: What Legacies Are They Chasing?

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    Updated: June 13, 2014
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    A lot goes into making a Legacy worth remembering in sports. Not all legacies are the same, and of course some are better than others. Players who’ve won championships are viewed markedly different from players who had great careers but never raised a trophy. Every player wants to be remembered as a champion, because not only those it enhance an individual athlete’s achievements in team sports, it creates an allure that the player was able to get it done at the highest level where so many other before him or her have failed.

    Two of this generation’s great basketball players LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony are more than halfway with their playing careers and have already established themselves as great basketball players. Both are in their 11th season in the NBA and both have played high level basketball their entire careers. While LeBron is chasing after the greatest of all time position held by Michael Jordan, Carmelo is on the opposite side of the spectrum running from a legacy connecting him with other great power forwards of the past who did not win a ring like Karl Malone and Charles Barkley. Can either of them reach their goals of finally winning a ring and the other of catching Michael Jordan?

     

    The Root Of The Evil: Creating A Big…4?…

     

    Before I go into legacy discussion for the two players, the new rumor that’s been going around for a few days is the possibility of the Miami Heat making a run at soon to be free agent Carmelo Anthony. This Big 4 thing will have a large impact on both players’ careers but can it even work? Financially it seems possible. Not probable, but possible. All 4 players: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Carmelo Anthony and LeBron would all have to opt out of their current contracts, which they can, then sign new contracts for far less money.

    The one advantage they all have his that with the Florida Tax regulations they wouldn’t be taking a hit on their money like they would in places like Chicago or New York. But with the way Wade is talking, he wants a Kobe Bryant “Farewell” contract. (lmfao) With Wade’s recent string of performances in the Finals, him getting a max deal is a preposterous notion. Wade may be a huge stumbling block. But making the money right is only the first hurdle. 

    The second hurdle is can it work on the court, and have we seen a “Big 4” in the NBA before? The only teams that I can recall having a Big 4 were the Lakers of the early 2000’s when they had Shaquille O’Neal, Gary Payton, Kobe Bryant and Karl Malone, and the Boston Celtics when they had their own Big 3 with Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and to a lesser extent Rajon Rondo. Rondo was young and raw and not in his prime years yet so I am not sure that would count. The Celtics did win an NBA Championship with that team and reached another two years later.

    The Lakers “Big 4” featured two well past their prime stars in Malone and Payton, and two bickering super-stars in Shaq and Kobe. The Lakers lost in the 2004 NBA Finals to the Detroit Pistons and that Big 4 era ended quite abruptly. Again, I’m not quite sure those two team would be comparable because barring Wade, the other three in this proposed Miami “Big 4” scenario are all healthy in their primes. Can it work, sure, Erik Spoelstra is a brilliant young coach and Pat Riley will be helping as well. Only time will tell if this is even a reality.

     

    Carmelo’s Chasing Rings, And Needs One Badly… 

    Partnering with LeBron James makes a lot of sense for Carmelo Anthony. I personally hate the idea of all these super stars getting together to win as opposed to staying with the teams that drafted them and trying to win there. But that might just be the “Get of my lawn” guy in me who remembers the pre-Big 3 era far too vividly. The players of this era should be admired for being able to do two things, trying to win and doing it while playing with their friends. I would rather have seen Bron and Melo stay in Cleveland and Denver and rule the league from their original posts.

    But I can’t blame Bron for leaving an organization run by a clueless Dan Gilbert, and Melo for wanting to go to a larger market and the place of his birth. But they chose their current teams and should stay put and continue building. But for Bron that’s easier done than it is for Carmelo. Bron’s current organization is a model of excellence and consistency. Melo’s Knicks have been a train wreck for years and are owned by an even bigger buffoon than Cavs owner Dan Gilbert. James Dolan has been an awful owner for years, but hiring Phil Jackson is a step in the right direction for the Knicks. Jackson can offer Melo hope of building a team during the packed free agent summer of 2015. But Melo may need more than hope at this stage. Melo seems to have suitors not only in Miami, but also in Chicago and Houston. The Houston Rockets would be fun with Melo, but I don’t know who’s going to have the ball more between Melo and James Harden.

    Meaning Dwight Howard will never get any touches and may lead to dissension early in the ranks. And Melo would be playing in the far more difficult Western Conference while missing the one thing he’s been asking for the most. A facilitator. Jeremy Lin, Patrick Beverly and Harden are not going to get Melo the ball in his “sweet-spots” on the court like playing with LeBron would. So Houston sounds like a no go. Chicago though, now that sounds very interesting. Melo would get to stay in the Eastern Conference, he would be linking up with the reigning Defensive Player of the Year in Joakim Noah, there are a lot of good role players, and Tom Thibodeau is an amazing coach. The wild card would be Derrick Rose. No one knows what version of Derrick Rose will be returning in the 2014 season. After two major knee problems it’s safe to say we won’t be seeing the explosive Rose of old.

    Courtesy of stevelaidlawsports.blogspot.com

    Rose will have to be a spot up shooter and true facilitator at point guard. Again, a lot is dependent on what version of Rose returns. The problem the Bulls have always had is their inability to consistently put points on the board. With Melo they won’t have that problem. Plus Melo can put up 8-10 rebounds a night next to Noah. Noah is also an excellent passer who can get Melo the ball in spots. Going to the Bulls would require Melo to take less money but there is a ready made team in Chicago close to emerging if they add one more super-star to their roster. A Bulls team with Carmelo Anthony would be a tough out for anyone, and Melo could still have a chance to beat LeBron every season while fighting rings. Either way Melo needs to get to a place where he can compete now.

    Both Miami and Chicago would be ideal for him and he would succeed in both places. He can’t finish without a ring because the narrative on him currently is he’s a great scorer who never made his teams better. Whether that narrative is fair or not, wining one ring will change Melo’s legacy immensely. If he ends his career ringless, he will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Hope he chooses his next destination correctly.

     

    Bron Is Trying To Catch Michael Jordan For The GOAT Spot… 

    LeBron James is the greatest player of his generation and he’s on a mission to catch one person for the throne, Michael Jordan. If anyone thinks that James’ is not a mission to catch MJ and then you are seriously deluded. Bron wants to be the greatest and has said it. As great as LeBron is there are people who say since he’s already lost two NBA Finals he can no longer be in the debate for greatest ever. Now I don’t share that view, but it is something I have heard when the Jordan/LeBron debate comes up. Right now LeBron and his Miami Heat are in a battle for their lives against the San Antonio Spurs in the 2014 NBA Finals.

    The Heat are down 3-1 through no fault of LeBron who has been his usual amazing self in all 4 games. But legacy and narratives don’t take your teammates’ poor performances into consideration. If LeBron loses this series while being at the peak of his powers, he will undoubtedly take the brunt of the criticism for the series loss. To make matters worse, he will have a 2-3 Finals record. That is where I personally have to draw the line when it comes to the catching Michael. Bron may go on to win a few more championships in his career, but having 3 in the Finals loss column can put him into the top 5 for me, but not the greatest ever.

    But I am sure there are people who feel differently and think Bron can still reach the top and surpass Jordan. I would disagree but everyone will feel strongly in their views about this topic. Let’s just say for argument’s sake those people are correct, if Bron stays in Miami and continues winning he will pass Jordan. But will those people feel the same way if Bron needs Melo’s help to do it? If Bron wins more championships on his own with just this present incarnation of him, Bosh, and Wade, and Riley adds more role-player depth, that’s one thing. But if Riley finds a way to land Melo, then the Heat would have four out of the first five players picked in the 2003 NBA Draft. Again, for me personally, there is no way Bron can ultimately catch Jordan with three finals losses, but if he has Melo by his side as well as Wade and Bosh, can anyone say he’s the greatest ever?

     

    But then here comes another unlikely scenario. What happens if Bron opts in this season, plays out his current contract and in the summer of 2015 leaves and goes back to Cleveland…then what? He would be going back to the team he started with, and it would make for a great story.

    But would going back and winning a trophy or two with the team he left to begin with help his chances of catching Jordan? Maybe, but I think it’s unlikely. As of now these are all hypotheticals and what ifs, but for me Bron is going to finish close to the top but won’t dethrone Jordan. This 2014 NBA Finals was going to play a huge part in LeBron’s legacy because there are a lot of people who will argue had it not been for this shot:

    LeBron would be staring at possibly being 1-4 in NBA Finals. Keep in mind in Game 6 of last year’s NBA Finals, the only reason the Heat were in the position for Ray Allen to even tie the game was because LeBron was unstoppable. But whether it be 1-4 or 2-3, he’ll have to win two more to even be ahead in the Finals win column. And Jordan’s 6-0 career record in Finals with 6 Finals MVP’s and never playing in a Game 7 holds a lot of weight in the greatest of all-time debate.

    I think Bron will finish top 3 when it’s all said and done, maybe even top 2. LeBron may still win a couple more MVP’s and a few more titles along the way as well. But losing another Finals and possibly teaming up with Melo will guarantee him never reaching the top spot of the Basketball pantheon. 

    Melo and Bron are chasing two different sorts of legacies. Melo just wants to leave as a winner, while Bron undoubtedly wants to leave as the greatest ever. Melo’s is still attainable; Bron’s, I don’t think is. Undoubtedly there will be people who do not agree with me and rightly so. Difference in sports opinions makes for great conversation and debate. I will sit back and enjoy every minute remaining in both LeBron and Melo’s careers.

    And I will watch every second of Heat basketball if they come together as a duo because that will be must see TV. But regardless what path they choose, both men are having their legacies defined with each passing season, I’m just not sure if either player will be satisfied with the end result. Hope I’m wrong.

    Follow @LSN_Frantz on Twitter

     

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