CONVENTION TYPHOID: Dream Ticket 2010
In the middle of the Olympics, it came to us. A thought bigger than LeBron in Russia, or Brooklyn, or even the mystical significance that 2010 has taken on. Thank you, Akron Beacon Journal, for tapping into the motherlode of idle basketball reflection, of lighting the way with a single observation that's the difference between bullshit Y2K and Revelations. The very simple principle, which remained hidden in plain sight like the wonder of the natural world, is as follows: The Cavs could not only re-sign LeBron, but also bring in Wade or Bosh. Or Amare, or Josh Howard, who are part of that 2010 free agent class. Cleveland has one star already, and of all the teams like that, only they will have the cap room to ink another.
Let's forget, for a second, the practical concerns of what this would do to the entire team. The Celtics worked around three gigantic contracts; I, for one, think it's just a matter of Ferry paying his usual kind of player less. Also, while you could make the argument that Boston had three grizzled, ego-less vets ready to get in line and win, thus making their situation totally different than two young superstars in their prime, don't shortchange LeBron. He only happens to be the most versatile player in the universe, and has only been reduced to a meager 30/7/7 machine by Mike Brown and his team's total paucity of everyone and anything resembling flexible talent. So fuck off, stop doubting, and return to the fold of those who believe that, with Bron in our midst, anything is possible. Like winning two championships at once while traveling back in time.
I would also like to promptly apologize to Amare and Josh Howard for not regularly including them in my assessment of the awesome force that is 2010. Howard's stock is crazy low right now, but pre-Kidd he was on the ascent. He has two seasons to get it together. I, for one, am optimistic. As for Amare, it's well-known that he can't play defense, and may never exactly regain his pre-surgery ability to instantaneous achieve lift-off. I stay up at night wondering if that's the case, and wishing the questions would stop tearing at my mind-space. Regardless, he's still an athletic as fuck big man who can score 200 ways around the hoop, and is good for some rebounds, at least on paper. Max deals have been signed for far less, and far less dominant—and more fractuous—individuals have been regarded as franchise saviors. Sidenote: The internet should erase everything anyone wrote about the Knicks after they got Randolph. It's the blogosphere's equivalent of eugenics.
What I want to do, and what I plan to do when my office gets gloomy and I wonder what it all means, is spend a lot of time thinking about how fucking awesome any of these pairings would be. Putting Bron and Wade together almost makes my brain shut down, especially after the Olympics. My meager grasp of X's and O's notwithstanding, the sheer amount of game that would harness, every night for several years without Coach K smirking on the margins, is almost overpowering. This may be faulty logic, but I've seen both of them single-handedly beat better teams many, many times, while also doing an admirable job of playing off of lesser teammates when necessary. LeBron still could become both Magic Johnson 2 and C-Webb's revenge without sacrificing his Jordan-esque opuses. Not to say that James needs to become a #2, but certainly having Wade—a more traditional SG who nonetheless knows how to involve others and boards like a motherfucker—would allow him to open up his game, instead of being forced to beg for a fastbreak, and then settle for an iso that likely ends in some Cav fumbling a pass.
James and Bosh is more orthodox, but deceptively so. It would give LeBron someone really skilled, and dynamic, to hit, feed, or set up near the basket, which would also obviate the King's much-noted lack of a post game. This is the kind of partnership that would instantly streamline, and take a lot of the rough, desperate edges off of James that have been interpreted as hubris or stagnation. The only problem, if this even is one, is that James is a one-man fastbreak, so Bosh's ability to run the floor wouldn't really matter much. Oh well. This team in the half-court would be like two tigers filled with dynamite, strapped to circling sharks, just waiting to explode and turn the sharks into ghost-sharks that would live forever and steal our daughters. I think that is a much more concrete dream for the Cavs than the Bron/James basketball orgasm whose name can barely be spoken.
Amare and Howard are, despite my doctrinary commitment to these two, lesser players. And it is not without irony that I not how cleanly this pair splits the euphoria outlined in those Wade and Bosh scenarios. From a style, swagger, and all-out ridiculousness perspective, Stoudemire and LeBron would be a joy to see together. If there's one thing James really lacks, it's a consistent sense of personality and, well, style, beyond that of history-making agent who both dutifully oversee and is in thrall to his own outsized importance in basketball. Amare, as we all know, is a one-way player, but could be a major influence—whether good or bad—when it came to unlocking a little more energy, and non-business-like vitality, in LeBron (some of which, it should be said, we saw in the Olympics). I'm not quite sure how to approch this from a basketball perspective: They are pretty similar physically; Amare has maybe an inch on LeBron, James's less svelte. But–and maybe this is my Amare fandom speaking—I can't imagine that James wouldn't welcome a chance to play with Stoudemire, who would detonate on command near the basket, as well as draw defenders from all over with his ability to slash like a forward (Note: he's better at that than Garnett ever was).
Josh Howard, recent difficulties aside, is three things: An offensive threat who, unless he's being meticulously placed by Jason Kidd, can score from all over, and a disruptive defensive presence who is kind of like Shawn Marion as a shooting guard. A more modest triumph than one of these other guys would be, and yet exactly the kind of player's player who LeBron knows the true value of. This doesn't conjure up images of a 2-on-5 stampede like the other combination do, but Howard might not bring max money, and, if there's one other decent, reasonably paid player on that roster (Mo Williams, maybe), would provide the Cavs with an excellent nucleus that wouldn't shackle LeBron or make us alternately feel bad for him and despise him for an awfully uninspired way of doing business. Good players make superstars better, usually, and Howard is one of those players. However, this one is getting way too caught up in the realm of the real, and forcing me to try and think of offensive schemes that aren't metaphors for AP Physics, so we'll stop this one here.
So let this be a celebration of basketball. Basketball that may never be, but that, on the heels of the Olympics, is a possible landing zone for the Redeem Team's staggering, but to me ultimately kind of wasted and meaningless, explosion of style, action, and consequence. Let us be as one, even if nothing comes of this and the Cavs move to Iraq. This is the new fantasy basketball, and I plan to be at its center. I love everyone.