From Fantasy to Reality: A Lakers Fan Reaction to LeBron James Joining L.A.

On the evening of July 1st, it finally happened. After all of the rumors, speculation, and reports, LeBron James signed a 4 year, $154M contract with the Los Angeles Lakers. It was something I was personally expecting to happen but, actually seeing it become a reality was still somewhat of a surprise.

As the news broke out, it was no surprise to see social media and the sports world as a whole, erupt into complete chaos. From what I’ve seen so far, the majority of Lakers fans seem absolutely thrilled but, there are actually a fair amount of people who aren’t too thrilled about LBJ being in the City of Angeles. This confused me. How on earth can a fan be upset that the best player in the world and arguably of all time joined their team? It didn’t add up to me. I need answers!

Luckily, I’m good friends with a die-hard L.A. fan. His name is Dylan Hall and I requested to get some of his opinions on having “The King” join his beloved Lakers. Here’s what he said:

First things first, how does it feel?

It might be a slight understatement to say it feels good. For real though I haven’t been this excited about the Lakers since they beat Boston in 2010 (NBA Finals).

What does this signing mean for the team, fans, and overall city of L.A.?

I think at this point it’s almost an expectation from Lakers fans. This is exactly what they’ve done their entire history, but after struggling as much as they have, this feels a little different. It means everything from a team standpoint. Magic delivered and they’re in a better position then they’ve been in for a long time.

There isn’t a lot, but, I’ve seen a surprising amount of Lakers fans not too thrilled with this signing. What would you say to these fans to sway their feelings toward picking up LeBron?

He’s the best player in the world. If that isn’t enough then you might not be a real Laker fan.

When did you realize there was a legitimate chance LBJ could end up in L.A.? How confident were you that it would actually happen?

After Game 1 of the Finals. I knew there was a chance he could leave Cleveland but, my strong opinion was that he would stay if he made the Finals. I think after the way they lost that Game 1 it became clear he was on his way out. Following that, the Lakers and 76ers became the only realistic options. I wasn’t too confident until the allegations with the 76ers GM happened. After that, it really seemed like there was no other option for LeBron that made sense.

What are your honest expectations for the first year?

I might just sound like an obnoxious Lakers fan but, I’m a lot more optimistic than most people. I think that this team is at least a 3 seed, 50 win team. I think that with Trevor Ariza leaving, L.A. is better than Houston and while they aren’t better than the Warriors, when you have Lebron James you’re going to be a legitimate contender to beat them.

Now that LBJ is in L.A. and Paul George is staying in OKC, do the Lakers snag Kawhi Leonard or stick with LeBron?

It seems unlikely that they get Kawhi. Their other free agent acquisitions have eaten up their cap space and they don’t seem to want to trade the three 1st round picks it would need to trade Deng. The nice thing is that the other signings they made similar to last year, were all one-year deals. At this point, I think they stay put and bring back Julius Randle with the ability to easily free up enough space to go after Kawhi or someone else next offseason.

There you have it, folks. It’s a rather simple concept. When the best player in the world joins your team, it is, in fact, a good thing. Shocking isn’t it?

– Collin Borron

Follow Dylan: Twitter@AbDylanJabbarInstagram @kareem_abdylan_jabbar

Photo Credit HERE

James Harden is NOT The MVP

It may be an unpopular opinion, but please just let me explain myself in this one. Also before you think I’m just a “hater” or I’m just going to bash on him, think again. Harden is actually one of my favorites in the NBA and I’d like to consider myself a rather big supporter of his. I am glad that he is a finalist for MVP, but if I’m being completely honest, he doesn’t deserve the award. The leagues true MVP is the one and only LeBron James.

First off, let’s talk game 7 of the Western Conference Finals. After their defeat to Golden State, it became clear Houston cannot contend without Chris Paul. The Rockets had an impressive first half, but the second the Warriors took the lead in the 3rd quarter, they completely fell apart. Relying heavily on getting to the foul line, Harden didn’t get the calls he’d normally get in the regular season. That reason being, it’s the playoffs. The referees allow much more contact and overall playing in the playoffs compared to the regular season. When Harden isn’t getting those calls, he quickly turns into a liability. Especially when he and the entire team go ice-cold shooting behind the arc. Missing a playoff-record 27 straight three-pointers, Harden and the Rockets failed at the one thing they rely on so desperately. James Harden offered no leadership or direction to his team in arguably the franchises biggest game since the 1990’s. Chris Paul is the leader and the X-factor of this Houston team and I firmly believe they would have won this series had Paul, not got injured. This series specifically showed that James Harden isn’t even the most valuable player on his own team, let alone the entire league.

As for LeBron in the playoffs, his performances speak for himself. Two game-winning buzzer beaters, averaging 34 points, 8 assists, and 9 rebounds, swept the No. 1 seed in the East and beat Boston at home in game 7 to reach his 8th straight Finals. All of this while carrying an average at best roster.

“But Collin, the MVP award is for the regular season! Harden was clearly the best then!”

Sorry, but that is also incorrect. Brace yourselves for this.

This Season:

Points: LeBron James – 2,251 | James Harden – 2,191

Assists: LeBron James – 747 | James Harden – 630

Rebounds: LeBron James – 709 | James Harden – 389

FG Pct: LeBron James – 54.2% | James Harden – 44.9%

Minutes: LeBron James – 3,026 | James Harden – 2,549

Games Played: LeBron James – 82 | James Harden – 72

Triple-Doubles: LeBron James – 18 | James Harden – 4

The numbers don’t lie. If the MVP award was truly rewarded the most “valuable” player every year, LeBron would have won it every season for the past decade. Obviously, the NBA didn’t let that happen, but it just goes to show how meaningless the NBA awards and awards, in general, are in sports.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love James Harden. He’s an absolute thrill to watch and one of the greatest basketball talents in the world. You know what? He most likely will still win the MVP award and I won’t be upset at all by it. It still won’t change the fact that compared to LeBron, there is no other player on this planet near his value and that’s why I believe he is the real MVP.

– Collin Borron

Photo Credit HERE

LeBron vs Jordan: Sports Most Pointless Debate

It is a topic that’s brought up daily on an endless variety of sports talk outlets. Who’s the true GOAT? LeBron James or Michael Jordan? Both sides have some real defensive fans. As I read through these debates, I notice the same thing every time. Both arguments seem to end up going nowhere. Whether you are a die-hard Jordan supporter, die-hard LeBron supporter, basketball expert or whatever it may be, I have some news for you. LeBron is not better than Jordan. Jordan is not better than LeBron. There is no single best player in history. It’s about time we all accept this.

I’m not really sure why sports fans feel the need to have a single best player in any sport at all. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had opinions on who I thought was the GOAT for each sport as well, but come to find out, it’s impossible to really crown one at all. Just like life itself, sports are made up of eras. Comparing two players that came from completely separate era’s, simply makes no sense. No matter the stat, championship, teammate(s), coach, injury or any other factor, none of it can be compared.

Basketball was a such a different game back when Jordan played. Being someone who grew up watching LeBron, it’s hard for me to imagine him playing in Jordan’s NBA and vice versa. There are a couple of things that are certain. Both are in fact the best in their respective eras and both will go down as two of the all-time greats. It’s time to just appreciate greatness when we are fortunate enough to witness it.

It’s a simple concept, but I know for a fact this debate will go on forever. I just hope some people will come to their senses and realize how much time and breath they are wasting arguing either side. I’m perfectly fine saying LeBron James and Michael Jordan are the best players in NBA history. Being able to witness one of them is something I couldn’t be more thankful for and I think a lot of people don’t realize how lucky we truly are to be here for it.

– Collin Borron

Photo Credit HERE

Cleveland Cavaliers: Better Now Than Before

 When people think about the Cleveland Cavaliers, they think about LeBron James. But ever since Isaiah Thomas returned in January, he just didn’t fit the Cavalier system, resulting in their season heading toward the drain. At this point, Cleveland was falling in the rankings and barely hanging on to third place in the East. A few things that were happening with Cleveland consisted of their team chemistry being off, LeBron was being rumored about cursing out two Cleveland executives about stupid decisions they had made in the past, including, Kyrie Irving getting traded to the Boston Celtics and David Griffin getting fired. Other problems consisted of the Cavs being the oldest team in the NBA, and their team issues with Kevin Love. Cleveland had to do something fast, in order to continue to fight in the East because they were losing hope in some of their players.

Leading up to the NBA trade deadline, the Cavaliers had not traded any players, but when the trade deadline officially arrived, they traded away Isaiah Thomas, Channing Frye, and a first-round pick, while acquiring Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Isaiah Thomas tweeted out prior to getting traded to the Lakers, stating that he was tired of being traded and wanted to stay put in Cleveland. I guess the Cleveland executives didn’t care for what he had to say. The Cavaliers got involved in a big three-way trade with the Sacramento Kings and the Utah Jazz, trading away Jae Crowder and Derrick Rose to the Jazz, Rose, who was later waived by the Jazz and went unclaimed in waivers, acquiring George Hill from the Kings and Rodney Hood from the Jazz. The Cavs also acquired Arturas Gudaitis from the Kings, in exchange for Iman Shumpert, a 2020 second-round pick, and Dimitrios Agravanis to the Kings. The Jazz traded away Joe Johnson to the Kings, who later agreed to a buyout agreement and was claimed by the Houston Rockets. The Cavs last trade consisted of trading Dwyane Wade back to Miami, which was best for the city of Miami as they saw their merchandise numbers go up by more than “8,000%”, according to Darren Rovell from ESPN, and they will get to see the Miami legend back in a Heat uniform again, reuniting him in the place where he has destined to shine throughout his entire career. Overall, in my opinion, I think the Cavaliers are now a better team and are heading in the right direction with their new and improved line-up.

The reason why the Cavaliers are better now than before is that Cleveland has removed some of their older players out of their line-up and put younger players that are going to be able to help the team for the rest of the season.This will help as they continue to fight to try to regain first place again in the East. Now let’s break down the players that were acquired in the trades. First up, Jordan Clarkson, I think he will be a good scorer in Cleveland, but he’s going to have to be able to limit his turnovers. I don’t think he will play much of the point guard role as they have George Hill and LeBron James, who will take over at the point from time to time. Next up, George Hill, I have been watching Hill ever since his Indiana Pacer days and was always impressed with his style of play, Hill is a versatile player who can make you pay for sleeping on defense. Of course, he’s no Kyrie Irving, who was able to take charge and lead the offense while LeBron is on the bench, or like Isaiah Thomas, who is a quick player and one of the best offensive players in the league from last season, who just didn’t fit well at all in the Cavs system. I don’t think Hill will be with Cleveland for a long period of time, but he could possibly end up giving them the boost that they have desired to propel them into the playoffs. Another player, Larry Nance Jr., has the ability to fit into the power forward position for the Cavs while Kevin Love is out. Nance, a good rebounder, a statistical area that Cleveland needs to get better in, and has the ability to have some posterizing dunks that can be deadly for the team’s that he’s playing against. Nance’s dad, Larry Nance Sr., holds the all-time rebounds record in a single game in Cleveland Cavaliers history and has his jersey #22 retired and hanging up on the rafters for his son to look up to every time he plays at Quicken Loans Arena. The last player the Cavs received was Rodney Hood, a playmaker and good scorer for the Jazz, who has the ability to take the starting job from J.R. Smith. Hood is a player that could be with the Cavaliers for a long period of time due to being a young talented player with good size and frame for his position, which is what Cleveland needs to get more of if they want to compete at the highest level in the Eastern Conference. Due to these players that the Cavaliers received, I think they are better off for the future with their new line-up heading towards the end of the season and into the playoffs, trying to get to Lebron’s eighth straight NBA Finals appearance.

– Daniel Kingery (Guest Writer)

Isaiah Thomas Already Causing Trouble in L.A.

Do you ever just look at a couple and right away can tell that they just aren’t going to work together. They’re great people and all, but as duo they just don’t “click”. Isaiah Thomas and LeBron James were that couple.

After arriving in Cleveland, Isaiah Thomas just didn’t seem like he belonged, nor did it seem like he even wanted to be there. Fast forward a few months, the Cavaliers are just a big mess. No chemistry, no effort, horrific defense and the former Boston super star still had yet to make any sort of impact. It just wasn’t working.

Then today happened. The NBA trade deadline has finally arrived and oh my goodness did Cleveland take full advantage of it. To no surprise, Isaiah Thomas was traded away and sent to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. Cleveland easily got the better end of the deal.

Shortly after being traded, ESPN’s Rachel Nichols received a text from Thomas’ agent saying “HE IS NOT COMING OFF THE BENCH.”

Well that’s a bit aggressive. Then apparently IT4’s agent followed that statement up suggesting they’d rather have a buyout than come off the bench.

Now we just have to wait and see how the Lakers will make him fit into their roster and with Lonzo expected to return in the near future, we’ll see if Thomas and his agent stay true to their words and attempt to get out of Los Angeles.

– Collin Borron (Founder & Owner of The Gridiron Express)