CLEVELAND – The Cavaliers got eliminated by the Spurs in the 2007 NBA Finals, Celtics in 2008 second round and Celtics again in 2010 second round. The following summer, LeBron left for the Heat.
“I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn’t succeed getting past a Boston, getting past the San Antonios of the league,” LeBron said.
That was a rather startling admission, though hardly a controversial assessment. Mo Williams, Antawn Jamison, Anthony Parker, Delonte West, Anderson Varejao and a 38-year-old Shaquille O’Neal weren’t that good – certainly not compared to Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
Of course, with LeBron holding a player option for next season and the Cavs down 3-0 to the Warriors, the question becomes: Are his current teammates enough for him to beat the NBA’s elite?
A reporter asked as delicately as possible: “I’m not trying to get you to say anything negative about anybody. But how do you feel now?”
LeBron answered through his own laughter.
“You actually are trying to get me to say something,” he said.
“Listen, at the end of the day, I’m living in the moment now. I went back for you for your question. We’ve had an opportunity to win two of these games in this three-game series so far, and we haven’t come up with it.
“Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you’re looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they’re stacked better than us. Let’s just speak truth. Kevin Durant. You’ve got two guys with MVPs on their team. And then you’ve got a guy in Klay who could easily be on a team and carry a team, score 40 in a quarter before. And then you have Draymond, who is arguably one of the best defenders and minds we have in our game. So you have that crew. Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench, a number one pick in Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.
“We have a lot of talent as well. We’ve been in a position where we could win two out of these three games. So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can’t reach for it but you’ve got to dive for it?”
Those are the right questions for now.
Soon enough, he’ll face a different one: Should he again leave Cleveland to play with more talent?