CBS Sports Editor Brad Botkin made a HUJE boo-boo — yes, HUJE.
In a post examining LeBron James’ potential strategy of attempting to match the dynasty-in-the-making Golden State Warriors, Mr. Botkin wrote a sentence equally comparing the eras before and after LeBron’s time in Miami to the same proportional timeframe in Cleveland.
— Leif (@Lefty_Leif) June 16, 2017
This is a sentence that should be punished by lethal injection but before we roast Botkin like a marshmallow, here’s the full context, as if any were needed:
“So here we have LeBron, with maybe four or five more years to still be capable of single-handedly transforming a franchise. And that, even more than winning titles or some fictional chase of Michael Jordan’s ghost, is what LeBron’s true legacy might ultimately be — the fact he could go down as this ultimate wealth spreader, single-handedly changing the fortunes of multiple franchises throughout his career.
“Think about it: Cleveland was nothing before him, and nothing after he left. Miami was nothing before him, and nothing after he left. He could go to pretty much any team in the league right now and that team would immediately become a contender. To have that kind of power over a franchise, to know he could show up on a team like the Clippers and immediately reinvigorate an entire organization, to be a dreamweaver of sorts would intrigue anyone.”
Before you start squirting Purell into your eyes, let us wash away this utter blasphemy with nothing but facts, starting with both franchises’ BL (Before LeBron) eras.
Likening BL in Cleveland to BL in Miami’s is like putting Cleveland women in the same room as Miami women. Actually, this won’t work as my wife is from Cleveland (but wasn’t born there!) and I’d like to sleep in the bed tonight.
Likening BL in Cleveland to BL in Miami is like comparing Natty Light to Macallan 18 — they’re in a different freaking universe. It doesn’t matter whether you go one, five, ten, or 15 years back, but let’s go with the latter first just because the Cavs were actually a playoff team — shocking, I know — for a while in the 90s….
BL in Cleveland (15 years): 8 postseasons, 3 fifty-win seasons, and 0 championships.
BL in Miami (15 years): 12 postseasons, 6 fifty-win seasons, and 1 championship.
And five years?
BL in Cleveland (5 years): 0 playoff appearances
BL in Miami (5 years): 4 playoff appearances and 1 championship
Next, let’s now look at the AL era for both franchises, which runs four years for Cleveland and three years for Miami:
AL in Cleveland: Despite landing FOUR Top 5 picks over three drafts from 2011 to 2013 due to the Cavs’ immense ineptitude, they never sniffed the postseason while finishing with 24 wins or fewer a whopping three times. Not to mention, if it wasn’t for their pre-LeBron awfulness landing them the No. 1 pick again in 2014 (Andrew Wiggins) they wouldn’t have been able to acquire Kevin Love, which in turn helped them win a title in 2016. Their overall record: 97-215.
AL in Miami: While Pat Riley, Erik Spoelstra and the Heat haven’t been juggernauts in the three years since LeBron departed, they’ve gone a respectable 126-120 WHILE netting just 97 games (of a possible 246 not counting the playoffs) from Chris Bosh, who has been their highest paid player in each of those seasons. In 2015-16, the Heat finished one game away from the Eastern Conference Finals, and was also a game short of what could’ve been a nice postseason run this year.
So when Botkin writes Miami was “nothing before him, and nothing after he left,” he’s really just embarrassing the hell out of his employer by pumping out fake news under the CBS Sports brand, which has taken a massive reputation hit today because of it.
Botchkin needs to get educated on a little something called Miami Heat basketball, which was unquestionably elevated to another level by LeBron James’ presence because he’s the best player to have ever graced the planet and all, but was already among the league’s elite franchises. One of the reasons LeBron took his talents to South Beach, which skewered his rep across the basketball universe in the process, was because he needed to learn how to become a champion. He admitted as such in his coming home letter:
“These past four years helped raise me into who I am. I became a better player and a better man. I learned from a franchise that had been where I wanted to go. I will always think of Miami as my second home. Without the experiences I had there, I wouldn’t be able to do what I’m doing today.”
Brad Botkin needs to put some respek on the Miami Heat name.