In the end, LeBron James will be the reason why the Brooklyn Nets -— and not his Los Angeles Lakers — will be NBA champions at the end of the season.
Let’s face it. James is the creator, the Dr. Frankenstein, if you will, of the three-headed monster that was assembled in Brooklyn on Wednesday.
In a four-team trade that sent shockwaves throughout the league, the Nets landed superstar talent James Harden from the Houston Rockets.
It gave the Nets the Super Team, a Big 3 for the ages as Harden joined stars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving.
Easily, it gave the Nets three of the top 10 players in the league and quickly made them the odds-on favorites to come out of the Eastern Conference and make a trip to the NBA Finals.
This was James’ plan, er, scheme when he formed the league’s first player-generated Big 3. All free agents, James and Chris Bosh joined Dwyane Wade to form an incredible trio for Miami Heat together in 2010.
It was the beginning of the end of competitive balance.
Putting a few players together in other sports doesn’t shift the balance of power in a league. But the NBA is a different animal. Two great players have a huge impact. And three great players? It’s game-changing.
After James did the deed, it’s become the norm as players started to leave the teams they were drafted by and started joining forces with the idea of winning championships.
It allowed James to win his first two titles in four seasons in South Beach.
For sure, LeBron thought he had bucked the system and had a blueprint to horde championships.
There was only one problem. Other players joined in and started to do the same thing.
No bigger example than when Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder and joined the regular-season, recording-setting, 73-win Golden State Warriors in 2016.
Strangely, LeBron’s minions and fan boys cried foul and said it wasn’t fair.
Durant was called lame and weak for joining the enemy —- the Warriors had just defeated Durant’s Thunder in the playoffs.
In fact, it was a brilliant move to counter what LeBron had done to the NBA, swing it in his favor. LeBron was all about stacking the deck.
Think of it this way. LeBron started MySpace and Durant created Facebook. Durant one-upped James and wound up winning back-to-back titles over James’ Cleveland Cavs. Best of all, Durant won the Finals MVP in both years, too.
Now, Durant and company have become Instagram and have enough juice to derail James’ and Anthony Davis’ dream of winning a back-to-back championship in L.A.
Granted, a lot of stuff has to jell and come together in Brooklyn in order for them to win that franchise’s first NBA title. Mixing Irving and Harden to Durant won’t be easy at all.
Harden and Irving both have issues off the court and both need the ball to flourish.
Still, James’ path got much tougher when the Nets pulled a LeBron James.
And it can ultimately wind up killing James’ chance of winning as many championships as Michael Jordan (six). James currently has four titles in 17 seasons, after beating the Heat this past season to win the title in the Orlando bubble.
This season, many almost thought it was a foregone conclusion that James and Davis would win another title. Mostly because it’s just easy to think the team that won last season is the favorite to repeat.
It just isn’t true. It’s hard to repeat in sports. In James’ career, he did it just once, going back-to-back in his second and third seasons in Miami.
And the West, quite honestly, is tougher this season from last. Young teams like Denver and Dallas got valuable playoff experience. The Clippers have another year to work on their chemistry.
And the East still has Milwaukee, Boston, Philly and the Nets.
Brooklyn was already feared with the roster it had before the Harden trade.
Now, they are even more deadly. And they are coming for James, who ironically is their mastermind.