We have always had the thought that everyone likes to win, but we’d rather have players that hate to lose.
We will find out this season if the Cleveland Cavaliers have enough of the latter.
All of the holdovers from last season’s team have to be thrilled to have players like LeBron James, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and Shawn Marion join the roster, because the days of finishing under .500 are over. The sheer talent brought in this off-season pretty much guarantees that.
However, if all of those players loathe losing, then the Cavs have a chance to be something special.
We bring this up because of Chris Bosh’s comments today about playing with a guy like James, more specifically the adjustments that Kevin Love will have to make coming from being the best player on a also-ran to being the second or third best player on a great team.
We agree with Bosh that some guys can make that transition and other guys can’t.
Going back in NBA history, we can think of at least two times where a superstar player subjugated his game for the good of the team.
The first is when Wilt Chamberlain did it twice, first with the 1966-67 Philadelphia 76ers, and again with the Lakers in 1971-72.
In the first case, The Big Dipper’s scoring average dropped from 33.5 to 24.1 and his assist total jumped from 5.2 to 7.8 playing with the likes of Hal Greer, Chet Walker, and Luke Jackson.
With the Lakers in 71-72, Chamberlain’s scoring average dipped drastically again from 20.7 to 14.8, allowing Jerry West, Gail Goodrich, and Jim McMillian to do the heavy lifting in the scoring department.
Earl Monroe made a similar transition when he went from prolific scorer with the Baltimore Bullets (20.0 plus average) to fit in with a very good New York Knicks group.
In recent times, we saw the Boston Celtics put together Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen to go with Paul Pierce, and win a title in their first year together. All three had to change their games for the greater good.
If you think that is normal, think about how many titles Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant could have one if either decided taking a step back was worth it to collect more hardware.
The fact that the situation in Miami the past few seasons seems to irritate Bosh slightly is probably the reason it didn’t work in the long run. And if Bosh hated losing, he wouldn’t have cared how many touches he would be getting, as long as the Heat kept collecting Larry O’Brien Trophies.
Comparing Love to Bosh, remember that Love wanted to come here once James announced his return because he wanted to escape the losing. He didn’t come to Cleveland as part of a plan devised by friends while playing together on the US National team.
Plus, passing has always been a part of Love’s game, going back to his college days. We were struck watching him at UCLA the good court vision he had, and that was before he became an outside shooting threat.
Only time will tell of course, but it seems that Love has the disdain for losing that is needed to play with James. There is no question that players like Love, Miller, Marion, etc. came to Cleveland not only to play with LeBron, but to play with him knowing a title was very much possible.
The bigger question is can they all, including James, sacrifice individual stats to accomplish that goal.
Another huge question is how the holdover Cavs handle the culture change as well. With the youth in that group, that could be the bigger challenge.