On Tuesday night, Lebron James became the 7th player in NBA history to score over 30,000 points in their career. But on Monday night, Lebron posted this instagram, pre-congratulating his younger self on this yet to be achieved achievement.
This was one of the most mind bendingly confusing and unintentionally hilarious instagrams ever posted to the internet, and I believe it warrants further investigation and analysis. First of all, Lebron is 32 years old. He should be able to construct a sentence that doesn’t sound like a fucked up Siri speech-to-text translation. Second, I’m not sure even he understands what this post is about. Is it that Present Lebron is trying to congratulate Past Lebron on an achievement that Future Lebron had yet to accomplish? Or now that the game has already happened, is it Past Lebron congratulating Way In The Past Lebron on More Recent Past Lebrons achievement? My brain hurts.
In any case, what an asshole. This kind of masturbatory self-contratulations is unprecedented. Do you think MJ wrote himself a letter congratulating himself on scoring 30K and then waiting to open it once he did it? Holy shit. He could have died in a plane crash on his way to San Antonio or blew out his ACLs after the opening tip and never scored the 6 points required to put him in the 30k Club. Lebron went on to have 28 against the Spurs in a loss, and received a standing ovation from the Spurs crowd after he scored his seventh point in the first quarter. But how did Present Lebron (as of Monday night) know that Future Lebron would score the necessary 7 points? There are no certainties in this universe. I have a theory.
In 2010 Lebron James made the now infamous The Decision, where he announced his intention to take his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat. I believe that shortly after the Decision, our universe forked into two separate timelines. The multiverse theory of our universe suggests that each and every possible outcome to every possible decision or action made in our universe plays out simultanenously in alternate, parallel universes. This implies there are literally infinite universes resembling our own that changed because of the decisions being made by the people inhabiting it. Here’s a simple example:
The timeline where Lebron leaves for Miami (henceforth ‘The Decision Timeline’) is the one we currently reside it. We are all familiar with the story. Without Lebron, the Cavs became a complete mess for the next few seasons, until his return in 2014. In 2011 they took Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick, and Tristian Thompson with the 4th. In 2012 they took Dion Waiters with the 4th pick, in 2013 they took Anthony Bennett with the first overall pick, and in 2014 took Andrew Wiggins with the first overall pick (they then traded him to Minnesota in the Kevin Love trade). For those scoring at home, thats five top five selections over the 4 years, including three number one selections. The Cavs during that period were bad, however only once had the best chances of landing the top pick. The chances of that happening are statistically improbable, if not impossible.
However those agonizing seasons are what laid the groundwork for Lebrons return. Kyrie proved to be a star player and blossomed into one of the NBAs premier point guards. In 2013, had they taken any other player than Bennett (say Victor Oladipo), perhaps they wouldn’t have been bad enough to land the first overall pick the next season, draft Wiggins first overall, trade him to Minnesota for Kevin Love, and pave the way for Lebron to return to Cleveland. In short, only by leaving Cleveland in 2010 would Lebron be able to return to a rejuvinated Cavs team in 2014 that would be well positioned for a series of title runs.
The reason Lebron left was that the roster had maxed itself out. They had locked themselves into long term deals with aging stars like Shaq ($20 million salary), Antwan Jamison ($11 million salary) and Mo Williams ($8 million salary). They had little to no cap flexibility and were short on young, cheap talent because of low draft spots. Boston had just assembled the first big three of the modern era and established themselves as the class of the Eastern Conference. Kobe had his own big three out west with an in-his-prime Pau Gasol, non-crackhead Lamar Odom. Lebron saw the writing on the wall; that the Cavs team assembled around him had completely maxed out its potential, that potential being losing to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. If he wanted to be “the greatest”, he needed championships. And that was never going to happen in Cleveland, so he left.
Had Lebron stayed in Cleveland, the landscape of the NBA today would have been much different. Let’s call this timeline “The Anti-Decision”. Had Lebron stayed, the Cavs probably would have won considerably more than 19 games (they won 61 with Lebron in 2010). Meaning they wouldn’t have been able to draft Kyrie in 2011. The other teams in the bottom five were Minnesota, Utah, and Toronto, and Kyrie most likely would have went to one of those teams.
The Miami Heat wouldn’t have been able to assemble their own big 3 to counter Boston, and the Heat wouldn’t have gone to four straight finals. Maybe the Celtics could have got an extra few seasons out of their aging core of Pierce, Garnett, and Allen. Instead of trading them to Brooklyn at the perfect time, they might have held onto them for an extra season. They wouldn’t have fleeced the treasure trove of assets from Brooklyn, and wouldn’t have been able to assemble their core of star young players, and, most importantly, trade for Kyrie Irving. Rather than flipping Pierce and Garnett for what turned into Jaylen Brown, Jason Tatum, and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics would be left with nothing after Pierce and Garnetts sharp decline at the end of 2014.
Lebron is starting to run into the same issues this season that he did in 2010 before the decision. The team is sputtering. They can’t play defense and for some reason everyone hates Kevin Love all the sudden. They have pushed the salary cap to the limit, and can basically only sign veteran rings chasers at the minimum. They are hamstrung by the terrible, virtually untradeable contracts of Tristian Thompson and JR Smith (both deals Lebron essentially co-signed).They have exhausted all their draft picks (save their precious Nets pick, which most likely won’t be as good as they expect). The Cavs, in their current iteration, have already probably reached their potential as a team. Which, to their credit, is 3 straight finals appearances and a win against the greatest team ever assembled. Not to mention the elephant in the room, which is the specter of Lebron leaving next summer.
I think this begs a larger question about how teams are constructed around star players, and Lebron in particular. Lebron is the greatest basketball player on earth right now, and possibly the greatest ever. Denying this fact is simply ignorant. Whatever team Lebron is on is immediately a title contender, regardless of the roster they put around him. He’s capable of carrying a team to the finals on his own. He’s just that good. The moment all of those teams got Lebron, they immediately went into a win-now-at-all-costs mindset. As they rightfully should. However this situation has proven to be a double edged sword.
Because they have Lebron, teams are willing to sacrifice future, sustained success for immediate results.The logic is that because you have Lebron your title window is open, therefore you must utilize all resources at your disposal to take advantage of that window. This philosophy inherently devalues long-term resources and inflates the value of short-term resources. They have to trade draft picks and promising young players, resources that usually don’t bear fruit immediately, for roster pieces and quick fixes that help them win now but won’t help them in the long term. For example, the going price for a veteran bench scorer like Lou Williams or defensive anchor like Andrew Bogut, pieces that are enough to put you over the top, was at least a first round pick. This is an extremely steep asking price considering these guys are essentially rental players; they are old, expensive, and don’t fit into future plans.
The teams in turn don’t get young players to develop on the cheap, and are forced to fill out their roster with veterans who are more expensive. Organizational success is shifted from player and team development to roster construction. Unless you can game the salary cap, attract good and cheap veterans, and hope the cap keeps rising, you are shit out of luck. Lebron doesn’t help the situation by signing one year deal after one year deal. He’s essentially holding his teams hostage. Teams invest more and more resources into winning in the short-term in order to encourage him to resign. But their fucked once he decides the team has maximized its potential and heads elsewhere. This is surely what the Cavs fear will happen (again) next summer, which is why they have been hesitant to deal the Nets pick. The Cavs are hurtling towards another Decision-esque summer. Time, it would seem, is starting to repeat itself. In other words, the Decision Timeline has entered a loop. Meaning that time is no longer operating on a linear, one dimensional path, but rather a circular, two dimensional loop. Lebron is leaving Cleveland again, and the Cavs are staring down another decade of mediocrity again. Only this time, Lebron will not be coming back to save them.
So what does all this have to do with Lebron’s insane instagram post and the multiverse theory? Lebron understands the multiverse theory and recognizes that there are literally infinite numbers of universes where he scored 30K points. However their one divergent point is when Lebron was 16, when the photo he posted was taken. He had to congratulate his past self because, according to the multiverse theory, there are also conceivably infinite universes where he didn’t score 30K. He’s trying to pay respects to those other Lebrons that got their 30K in other ways, and the only way to properly congratulate all of them is to congratulate Lebron at the divergent point.
So while we are at it, I️ suppose we should congratulate the people in those other dimensions that did the impossible. So I️ guess congrats to Lebron for scoring 30k. Also congrats to Hillary Clinton (from the PeePee Tape Timeline) for defeating sexual deviant and piss fetish aficionado Donald Trump in the 2016 election. Also, congrats to me in some other beautiful, idyllic timeline for becoming the youngest-ever coach of the Swedish Bikini and BlowJob team. Also my condolences to myself for dying heroically during the Great Four Loko Wars (in the Four Loko Kept Original Recipie Timeline).