Did LeBron James ring the death knell for basketball as we once knew it?
NBA free agent Iman Shumpert claims the Los Angeles Lakers superstar “ruined basketball” in 2010 when he left the Cleveland Cavaliers in free agency in order to form a super-team alongside Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade on the Miami Heat. Shumpert told Bootleg Kev Podcast on Monday James’ Miami move killed fans’ sense of loyalty to players who represent their favorite teams, turning supporters into frenzied critics.
“Nah, it wasn’t K.D. (Kevin Durant)(who ruined basketball by joining the Golden State Warriors in 2016),” Shumpert said. “It was Bron (James) first going to Miami. Bron knows he ruined basketball. ? Me personally, I love the NBA for the loyalty that I thought was there. He basically knocked the fourth wall down. ? Great business move, for sure, but ? I feel like all the (fans’) franticness happened when Bron went to Miami. That’s when everything became so critical. They (fans) look at (the game) like it don’t mean much ? He wasn’t supposed to do that ? loyalty means nothing.”
However, Shumpert benefitted from James’ next career move. Shumpert had been a Cleveland Cavaliers player just six-plus months when James re-joined the team in 2015. James quickly fulfilled his promise to Cleveland by leading the Cavs to their first, and only, NBA Finals triumph in 2016.
Nevertheless, the bulk of Shumpert’s point lies in what he says about the impact James’ move had on fan culture. Shumpert fans nowadays are too quick to withdraw their support of their favorite teams’ players when their squads aren’t in NBA Finals contention.
Did James actually increase the spread of a win-now mentality? Go ahead and add that to the ever-growing list of NBA debates.