The best chance at stopping the Miami Heat's march to the NBA Finals took a massive hit when the Chicago Bulls lost Derrick Rose. It would take a pretty big upset for LeBron James and the Heat to not make the NBA Finals.
James is widely thought of as the NBA's villain. The expectations for him are high and always have been. He is held to a standard that would be difficult for anyone to meet. Even if the Heat do win the title, there will be those that find fault by saying he should have done something better, or they'll say he wouldn't have won it without DeWayne Wade or Chris Bosh.
Basketball is a team sport. Nobody wins a title without the help from teammates. Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Toni Kukoc, Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman, Ron Harper, and Bill Cartwright. Kobe Bryant had Shaquille O'Neal, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Ron Artest. Compare that with the scraps that played in Cleveland with LeBron James. He had Shaq, Anderson Varejao, Mo Williams, J.J. Hickson, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and Antawn Jamison. Only Williams and Ilgauskas were All-Stars in James' time in Cleveland. Well, they haven't had any since, either.
James stuck it out in Cleveland for seven years. He waited for a championship-caliber group of teammates. They never showed up. He left for a team that would give him a shot. This could be his year.
Others have done it
LeBron James is not the first superstar to seek a title by joining a loaded team. In 1996, Charles Barkley joined Hakeem Olajuwan and Clyde Drexler in Houston. Pippen showed up in 1998. In 2001, the Orlando Magic had Tracy McGrady and Grant Hill. They tried to pursue Tim Duncan, but he decided to stick with the San Antonio Spurs. In 2003, Karl Malone and Gary Payton joined Kobe Bryant and Shaq with the Los Angeles Lakers.
None of these unions had the backlash that LeBron James suffered.
The Cavs' management team should get plenty of blame for the Cavs not winning a title. LeBron James fell into their lap in 2003.
After that, here are the Cavs' first and second round picks:
2004: Pick 10 - Luke Jackson (could have had Al Jefferson, Jameer Nelson, and Kevin Martin)
2006: Pick 25 - Shannon Brown, Pick 42 - Daniel Gibson
2008: Pick 19 - J.J. Hickson, Pick 52 - Darnell Jackson
2009: Pick 30 - Christian Eyenga, Pick 46 - Danny Green
Hickson and Gibson were OK. They did not get any lottery picks in there and some of their picks were traded. They pulled off a good trade to pickup Varejao and (after James left) traded Mo Williams to the Los Angeles Clippers for what would become the first pick in last year's draft. However, most of their deals were for players who were past their primes like Ben Wallace, Larry Hughes, Jamario Moon, Wally Szczerbiak, Shaq, and Jamison.
The Cavs gave James mediocre players and expected a championship. He carried them to the best record in the NBA two years in a row, but eventually just ran out of gas.
Time to move on
The way James left Cleveland on an idiotic show on ESPN was a giant mistake. The introduction in Miami left a sour taste in my mouth, as well. Some people will always think of him as a sellout. He also doesn't think before he speaks. However, James said he was sorry, and we all make mistakes. He is a new man now and a title is inevitable anyway.
I was really pulling for the Heat to lose in the Finals last year. This year might be different.