Rewriting History Pt.II

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Updated: September 20, 2021
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If you haven’t already please check out the first part of this article:

Our Infatuation with Rewriting History Pt.1

Probably the most controversial legacy stock in the league is the Chosen One, King James. It is mostly due to the fact that he is the only player in the modern era whose legacy stock is measured against the myths of ghosts, specifically the GOAT himself, His Airness, Michael Jeffery Jordan. Despite loading up a roster in South Beach with Hall of Famers, the Miami Heatles rings are for the most part respected, excluding the irrational fundamentalist Lebron James haters. His Cleveland title is the crown jewel of all of his gold hardware and is one of the most prized rings ever collected due to its context.

However, the “bubble ring,” “The Disney Championships,” “The Micky Mouse Cup,” and all the other nicknames given to Covid season playoffs hardly carry weight when stacking up rings all time. This last postseason was supposed to quiet the chatter and breathe life into this undervalued title from the year before. But with Anthony Davis being sidelined with injury and Lebron clearly not at 100%, the jury was dismissed and asked to return for this upcoming season. Despite the obvious changes in the roster with the recent addition of ball-dominant point guard Russel Westbrook, there will be no passes or pulled punches when judging the AD-Bron Lakers in the event that they flame out in the upcoming playoffs.

Let’s first look at the symptomatic narratives that will arise if the Lakers were to make it to the Finals. Especially if they won the titles against the Bucks or fully loaded Nets, this victory would boost the Disney Cup title tremendously…possibly even irrationally in the scope of history when we’re a decade removed. At the moment, the title in Los Angeles for the most part has been a boost in the “longevity” category for Lebron James. It is the column that he dominates in the sphere of those considered in the Mount Rushmore discussion, and it cannot be denied that his prime or versions of it is the longest in history. However, the last time Lebron dominated in a playoff series in the way his highlights will be watched by the children being born today, was back in Game 1 of the Finals against the KD Warriors in his heroic JR-Smith loss.

However, in the event they win this upcoming title, there will be narratives that will brew over the years that Lebron was a part of 2 or 3 dynasties. Not only that he won titles with 3 teams but dominated in 3 different jerseys. Again, reality has little to do with perception, especially when the stories are told by those who did not see the footage firsthand. With regards to Lebron’s current status in the league, inevitably we will hear Windhorst shout on the Hoop Collective, “See! We doubted Lebron and put Kawhi, Durant, and Giannis ahead of him, but he has not been dethroned just yet. When are we gonna learn?” It doesn’t matter in the slightest that he clearly was not the best player in the league last year, and there is a better case that he wasn’t a top 3 player than there is he was the best, but that all is beside the point in this process of narration. The narrative will be stated, “When healthy, going into a 7-game series…give me Lebron James, you take anyone else.”

On the flip side, everything collapses if the Lakers are a bust this year. Despite the fact that Russel Westbrook is literally the worst fit possible in the backcourt next to James, the fact they added an ex-MVP just adds insult injury if they fall short of the title. If the Los Angeles Lakers fail to make it to the Finals, it not only would devalue the Bubble Title, it would wipe away the pass they got in this last postseason for being injured. The only scenario that would be acceptable, would be if they lost to a fully loaded Brooklyn squad who had just demolished the entire Eastern Conference. 

However, if Harden or Irving is injured, and KD takes the title from Bron, the ramifications of such an event would be detrimental to the fragile reality of the NBA. Not only would it devalue everything from the past two years, but somehow it would breathe a new level of value into the KD Warriors titles and force us to revisit when Durant had stolen the crown from King James as the best player in the world. Two other worse-case scenarios would be if the Lakers lost at any time in the playoffs to either the Suns or the Warriors. If to the Suns, the narrative would shift that Phoenix would’ve handled a healthy Lakers team last year. If a loss to Golden State, their Bubble Title would have another strong asterisk that it “was only because they didn’t have to deal with the Warriors.” It would also validate in the alternate reality of KD never signing with Steph, that they would’ve beat Lebron at least one more time in the Finals on their own.

The scenarios are complete 180’s from one another and frankly are not logical outcomes. But narratives are not born from logic or reason, instead, they are emotionally driven by our need to rewrite history. Lebron and his location within the historic context of league swims in a multitude of narratives that overlap within themselves. The GOAT debate ends if the Lakers lose and somehow gains traction if they win. The Lakers are currently the title favorites in the West and next year if they lose will be treated like the Bucks the last two years before their title. With a victory, James remains King, yet in the ashes of failure Durant, Giannis, Curry, or Kawhi are inducted as royalty. It is our fixation with rewriting history…and although it is illogical, it certainly is entertaining.

 

 

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