With one week left Manchester United has wrapped up the Premier League title. I for one never expected them to contend much less win the title this year, but give credit where it is due. Injuries, lack of form to key players, improved competition, none of that could stop Sir Alex’s crew from putting together an impressive run of games starting around December. The two teams I picked to battle for the title, Chelsea and Manchester City, will finish either 2nd and 3rd or 2nd and 4th, but considering the recent ownership trends, expect both of them to have reloaded squads next season.
In two weeks, Manchester United plays Barcelona in the Champions League final-A rematch of the 2009 final. The best club tournament on the planet, this years Champions League Final features two of the absolute best teams in the world. Barcelona has been a cut above everyone all year, and I expect that to continue in the finals. That being said, I’ve been wrong about Man U all year, I may be wrong again. Nonetheless, im saying Barcelona lifts the trophy on May 28th.
So my favorite team, the two time defending champion Lakers, were bounced out of the NBA playoffs. And so were the Boston Celtics, at the hands of the Miami Heat and their “Big 2.5.” I’m officially rooting for a Chicago Bulls v Dallas Mavericks finals.
Basketball, unlike most team sports, is unique in two significant ways: individual greatness can be measured by Championships, and great players are judged based on their offensive and defensive expertise. This is because in basketball, each player has offensive and defensive responsibilities. This is not true in football, baseball, American football or hockey. Leo Messi’s greatness is not diminished because he doesn’t run back on defense. People don’t blame Payton Manning for his team’s defensive shortcomings. But in basketball, you have to play both ends of the floor. And the greatest players did just that. As a result of that (comparatively speaking) added involvement, championships represent an accurate barometer of how great the true superstars are. Jordan has 6. Magic has 5. Bird has 3. Olajuwon has 2. Tim Duncan has 4. Those facts are at the root of Lebron James decision to leave Cleveland for Miami. If he is truly an all time great, he needs multiple championships to validate that.
Let’s be clear, im not referring to the role players who, while they may have had a pivotal moment or three (see, Horry, Robert) weren’t the transcendent leaders of their teams.
All the people complaining about the fact that players determined they want to play with each other, all I can say is this: get over it. If the money and perks are equal, who wouldn’t prefer South Beach to Cleveland?
I still think his decision was a bad one, I do believe choosing to go to Miami and play second fiddle to Dwyane Wade will put him a notch below the all time greats regardless of individual numbers, and I also think that the Heat will win a couple of titles over the next few years.
Just not this year.