I hate to be the bearer of bad news for some of you, but the Cleveland Cavaliers will not win the NBA title this year. This statement isn’t based on any personal biases. Or on Shaquille O’Neal’s recent injury. Or Antawn Jamison’s struggle in the early goings of his Cleveland career. Or even on any curses that might afflict the city of Cleveland. No, this statement is based on history.
No, not HIStory – history. You know, the stuff that happened in the past. I’m a firm believer in studying the past to help determine what will happen in the present and the future. And the past screams loud and clear that Cleveland will not be having a victory parade this summer. So what exactly am I banging on about? After extensive research (i.e. – visiting basketball-reference.com) I’ve come up with the essential ingredients for winning a NBA title (longtime readers of this site will already know this):
1) a team MUST have one of their big men be named to the All-NBA Team that current season, and
2) a team MUST have two stars in their prime on their roster.
How essential are these ingredients? Like water to a fish. The only NBA champion since 1991 to not have a current All-NBA big man were Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls. But the Bulls got away with this by having two of the top 50 players off all-time on their roster along with either All-Star big man Horace Grant or Dennis Rodman, who should be in the Hall of Fame. And the only team since ’91 who didn’t have two stars on the roster was the 1994 Houston Rockets. Even the 2004 Detroit Pistons, who were considered a true “team” with no real stars follow these two rules. Ben Wallace was Second Team All-NBA in 2004 and Richard Hamilton, Chauncey Billups, Mehmet Okur and Rasheed Wallace had All-Star appearances in their futures.
Which brings us back to the current James Gang. They have a superstar in LeBron James and …. (cricket chirps, tumbleweed rolls by). Maybe that is a little harsh, but Cleveland really doesn’t have either of the essential championship ingredients listed above. None of their big men are going to make the All-NBA Team this year. And they also don’t really have a secondary star in his prime. LeBron was the only Cav to make the All-Star Team this year. Despite being an All-Star last year, Mo Williams isn’t fooling anyone into thinking he is truly a star (plus he wasn’t a real All-Star last year – he was an injury replacement). Shaq is soon-to-be 38-years-old and isn’t a star anymore (other than in his mind). Antawn Jamison is the closest thing to a star in his prime, but he really isn’t in his prime anymore – he’s 33 and his last All-Star nod was two seasons ago.
But all this is par for the course for Danny Ferry. His heart is in the right place, he heads in the right direction but just doesn’t go far enough. He knew James needed more help, so he got Shaq. Considering what he had to give up to get the big man, it was a nice deal. But it wasn’t good enough – Shaq isn’t a star anymore. So Ferry went out this year and got Jamison. But this isn’t good enough either – Jamison is probably past his prime and while he is a two-time All-Star he has never truly entered the top tier of players in the League, otherwise known as the All-NBA Team. And Jamison was the Cavs backup plan anyway – Amar’e Stoudemire was the real target (who, if you are keeping track at home, is an All-NBA big man in his prime). Sorry Danny – “it’s the thought that counts” doesn’t apply for aspiring NBA champions.
Can the Cavaliers win the NBA title this year? Absolutely. With a player like LeBron James on your team, anything is possible. History doesn’t always repeat itself. But too often people expect the unexpected to happen – they count on the exception, not the rule. And Cleveland winning this year would definitely be an exception. But remember – don’t blame me, Cavaliers fans – blame history.