King James, The Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sovereignty

Lebron James chalk toss before a game.

When LeBron James decided to return to Cleveland on July 11th, 2014 and told the everybody via Sports Illustrated, the sports world went crazy. Back was the chalk toss, and back was the player which had broken the Cavaliers fan’s hearts just four years prior. Contrary to the reception some believe James should have received, most Cavs fans could not have been happier to once again have the best player on the planet playing on their team. Soon after James decided to return to Cleveland, the front office was able to pull off an amazing trade and bring another top ten talent in Kevin Love to the team. Love could be the piece the team was looking for to take them to the next level and ultimately, to a championship in June. In addition, one cannot forget about the other superstar talent already present on the Cleveland Cavaliers, a 22 year old point guard named Kyrie Irving. Together, these three basketball talents could take the Cavs to a place they have never been, the promise land.

hi-res-6954c568aa49aa0ec926c5d36e669839_crop_northLeBron James, Kevin Love & Kyrie Irving; three superstars, each with a unique skill set and the potential to stand among the best that have ever played the game. LeBron James is arguably the best player on the planet and has transformed himself not only into a skilled scorer and passer, but also a tremendous leader. After leaving the Cavs for Miami in 2010, Lebron learned what it took to win a championship in the NBA. Kevin Love on the other hand has never tasted continued success in the NBA. He spent the the first six years of his NBA career on a sub-par Minnesota Timberwolves team, but has posted monster rebounding and scoring numbers year over year, consistently ranked in the top 5. Kyrie Irving, the Duke product, was the face of the Cleveland Cavaliers franchise after being drafted in 2011, an up and coming superstar, with unlimited potential. Kyrie was the team’s leader, and far and away best player after LeBron James left in 2010 and is a dynamic point guard with the ability to shoot the ball and create for his teammates.

People believed that the process of having these three superstar caliber talents mesh and play well together would be quick, painless and easy. However, this has not been the case so far as the Cavaliers have stumbled out of the gate, losing three of their first five regular season games. It was becoming clear that the these three players as well as the rest of the team would have to work extremely hard to mesh with each other and produce wins. In order to produce wins and win an NBA championship, the Cavs need to reevaluate the way in which the team is being led. When attempting to describe the Cleveland Cavaliers’ early season struggles, nothing better comes to mind than to compare the team to human society under the lens of Thomas Hobbes. Hobbes speaks heavily on humans and their tendency to revert to animalistic nature, thus leaving each person to live independently, without the help of other people. This can be described as acting in his or her own self-interest Thomas_Hobbeswhich is covered in Hobbes’ book titled “Leviathan“. After evaluating much of the Caviliers first four games, it is pretty obvious that each of the three superstars does not want to take a back seat to the other. They are each hoisting up 20 shots a game, recording very few assists, taking contested shots, and playing terrible team defense. Each player is acting in their self interest, attempting to pad their own stats and make themselves look good in the spotlight the team has created. Instead of producing wins, the team has crumbed and has been criticized heavily for their inability to play together.

Among the three superstars, LeBron James has publicly spoken out over how the team has been playing and has evaluated what needs to change in order for the Cavs to be successful. Much like what Hobbes describes in Leviathan, the three superstars as well as the rest of the players on the Cavaliers roster must escape this selfish play and enter into a contract with each other, agreeing to surrender individual interests in order to achieve the common goal of winning games and winning an NBA championship. No longer can they each take 20 shots and pad their own stats as each must sacrifice parts of their game for the betterment of the team. If James, Love, and Irving are able to complete this task and play to win games, instead of for themselves, they have the potential to be the best team in the entire league.

Following a blowout loss to the Portland Trailblazers on November 6th in which the Cavs recorded a record low 6 assists (A measure of a teams ability to share the ball), LeBron James states in a postgame interview “You just can’t explain [the low assist totals]. There’s no way you’re going to win a basketball game like that, justcleveland-cavaliers-news-update-2014-15-schedule-released-lebron-vs-melo-on-opening-night-plus-other-big-games having six assists. … We just can’t win like that, and we got to figure out a way to help each other and not make it so tough.” LeBron clearly recognizes the problem with the Cavs and is determined to make change. According to Thomas Hobbes, a sovereign needs to emerge out of the social contract that is formed in order to lead the new collective whole to success and King James fits that bill quite nicely. Not only did he face a similar problem in Miami with Dwyane Wade, but he is a natural born leader and the best player on the team. He has the ability to forge change and turn the Cavs season around before it is too late. Everybody, including Irving and Love, have the upmost respect for LeBron and will therefore follow by example.

With King James as the sovereign of the Cleveland Cavaliers, is the rest of the NBA in trouble?

5 thoughts on “King James, The Cleveland Cavaliers, and Sovereignty

  1. I found this articles explanation of the Cavilers early season struggles very interesting. I think many of the points you made were true and that selfishness has been a big reason why the Cavilers are losing. I also believe that another big reason the team is losing is a lack of team chemistry. I think it will take the team a while to learn how to play with each other effectively. There is no doubt the Cavaliers have enough talent to win a championship so it will be interesting to see the adjustments they make.

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  2. I completely agree with you. I think that the Cav’s have some of the best talent in the NBA, and just like the heat, they need to learn to play with each other. Dwayne Wade and Lebron figured it out not long into the first season, and I think if the Cav’s players can look to Lebron to be their superstar just as Wade finally did, they should expect great things. The NBA is too good now for one player to win a game. With cooperation, there is no doubt a championship is in their sights.

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  3. I agree. Great blog and supporting arguments. The NBA is becoming a league of “super teams”. Teams are looking for 2-3 All star caliber players to be on the same team and compete for a championship. As for the Cavs, I believe they have potential to win a championship this year but they have to realize that it’s LeBron’s team and he’s the leader. Kyrie Irving has to change his game just like D-wade did and become the beta dog and accept the fact the LeBron is the alpha. Once he realizes and most important accepts that role the Cavs will be better off and will be the best team in the NBA.

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  4. The 2013-2014 season is a great example of the way James, Love, and Irving played in the “State of Nature.” Because each player was the superstar of his team, they were allowed to shoot the majority of their team’s shots; LeBron James averaged 27.1 points per game, Kevin Love averaged 26.1 points per game, and Kyrie Irving averaged 20.8 points per game during the 2013-2014 season. As you already pointed out, because these players joined forces this season, they must enter a social contract because they can no longer act in their own self-interest and continue their production of the previous year. As with all contracts, there must be an enforcement mechanism to make sure each player doesn’t break the contract. In this situation, I think losses are a good way to make sure each player follows the contract. Because of the team’s early struggles, each player will evaluate his performance and adjust his number of shots to give the team a better chance to win.

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  5. I agree with you in the sense that the Cavaliers’ issues are arising from the fact that there is a lack of team chemistry. The three superstars are having trouble adjusting to their new roles. I do not attribute this to them being selfish, however. All three players are used to their teams performing best when they are at the centerfold of the operation. In this new setting, where really they need to balance themselves as best they can while having some sort of go-to guy, they are not fully understanding their roles. Miami had their fair share of troubles at the beginning of their big-three era, and I believe that is just what is happening in Cleveland. Players need time to adjust, and once they do, I believe Cleveland will be a quite frightening matchup for any team.

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