Richard Jefferson is a good guy but he misses the criticism of LeBron James.
Richard Jefferson was one of the most fun and beloved roleplayers the Cavs had in their 2016 championship run. A border-line All-Star in his career, he was an absolute stud in his prime for the then-New Jersey Nets and played alongside icons like Jason Kidd, and Tim Duncan throughout his career that saw him go to Milwaukee and San Antonio along the way. He even saw the early development of Steph Curry. Yet, the name that he always seems to defend the most is LeBron James. That shows you the type of relationship the duo have. The problem is, Jefferson missed a crucial point in defending his former teammate this time.
The most recent criticism that caught Jefferson’s attention was by Charleys Barkely on HBO’s On the Record, where Barkley claimed: “LeBron always stacked his teams”. To be fair, it’s both a true and untrue statement. James’ first run in Cleveland saw him try to stack his team, but most of the great players wanted little to do with him at that time. His best running buddies were Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Larry Hughes, Antwan Jamison, and Mo Williams.
That doesn’t mean they didn’t try though. They went out and got Shaquille O’Neal and the previously mentioned Jamison. There was also a deal for Amar’e Stoudamire in which the Cavs biggest piece going over was J.J. Hickson, a player the team had high hopes for, so the trade was nixed. Sure all three men were done as prime players by this point, but they all had/would have had, something to offer.
"In all fairness Chuck is right. LeBron didn’t get drafte to a team with Shaq like Kobe. Cavs never found the Pippen in Bron’s first 8 years because he was too good they never drafted that high. Ps… Charles got drafted to a team with Dr.J, Moses Malone and 2 other Hall of Famers. I see his point though 😉"
Jefferson’s not wrong, Barkley played on a team with Maurice Cheeks, Moses Malone, Julius Erving, and Bobby Jones. Yet, what Jefferson ignores is that besides Cheeks, all three men were gone by ’87. For three of the next five years, that team were regularly playoff contenders of the highest magnitude with Barkley leading the way. Then, of course, you have to point to what Barkley did in Phoenix as well. Dan Majerle and Kevin Johnson were good but they weren’t great.
So it’s radically unfair to compare James and Barkley’s careers.
Richard Jefferson ignores what happened after LeBron James left
After James left Cleveland, he took the easy road. That’s not deniable. In Miami, he paired up with two other Top-15 players in the NBA at that time in Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. They then recruited players who took tens of millions of dollars less to sign with them to get a championship. Names like Chris Anderson, Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Mike Miller, Mike Bibby, and Ilgauskas all signed up; most of whom were either still in their athletic prime or just slightly past it. Players who are the same age or older than them today are getting contracts for $40+ million.
More from Cleveland Cavaliers
- Kyle Kuzma is not a good fit for the Cleveland Cavaliers
- The Cleveland Cavaliers are rumored to be interested in trading Cedi Osman to get back in the 2023 NBA Draft
- Should the Cleveland Cavaliers go after Kristaps Porzingis?
- Would Hunter Tyson be a good get for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2023 NBA Draft?
- 3 of the most embarrassing moments in Cleveland Cavaliers history
In Cleveland, it was the same thing. Already a team with Tristan Thompson and Kyrie Irving, plus newly drafted Andrew Wiggins, the Cavs traded away Wiggins and a few other pieces for Kevin Love after James returned. That gave the Cavs three top-15 players. Then via trade or free agency, the team brought in J.R. Smith, Kyle Korver, Mo William, Shawn Marion, Jefferson, Deron Williams, Mike Dunleavy, Wade, Derrick Rose, Geroge Hill, and so many others over the four years.
It’s happening again in Los Angeles. His first year, with the younger squad, they didn’t even make the playoffs. Then he gets Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, Rajon Rondo, Danny Green, Avery Bradley, Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony, and again, far too many to list.
Now they’re looked at as a title contender again.
You can’t argue that James doesn’t hop from situation to situation when it starts to look like things are going to get tough. Barkley mentioned in the same interview that got Jefferson heated, that he (Barkley) respected guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Giannis Antetokounmpo more because they won in the same place and that they didn’t try and leave for an easier path to a title.
So Jefferson can be slick with his criticisms all he wants, but he’s still wrong. James stacks his team and that’s just a fact. Whether you view that as a good or bad thing is entirely up to you.