Iman Shumpert lets loose on how LeBron 'ruined basketball'

Iman Shumpert lets loose on how LeBron 'ruined basketball'

The following article first appeared on

“I’m gonna take my talents to South Beach and join the Miami Heat.”

The infamous sentence by LeBron James that completely changed the NBA landscape back in 2010 had a greater effect on the league than you might think. Sure, it shifted the landscape of the league at that time, but the long-term impact was felt in the fact that players started to team up other more, forming super-teams and disbanding loyalty in the pursuit of a championship. LeBron’s former teammate, Iman Shumpert, blames James for this shift in thinking. In fact, he believes James ruined the NBA.

“'Bron ruined basketball. He thought he was making it better; I get him," Shumpert said. "Me personally, I loved the NBA for the loyalty that I thought was there. He basically knocked the fourth wall down like, 'The organization, they bullsh*tting, we doing what we want.' Great business move for sure, but when you think about it, outside looking in, like, I got people tweeting me right now [and] they're literally talking about owners and trades. It’s like, bro, y’all aren’t supposed to be talking about none of this actually!"

It’s ridiculous to say LeBron started super-teams with the 2010 Miami Heat because we have seen many teams with multiple All-Stars going all the way through history. But the Heat's Big Three was formed differently. Players didn’t have the kind of power or leverage to go wherever they wanted and team up with their friends. Ownership groups and front offices had all the power, but LeBron broke the wall and showed that the players actually had the control. 

Ever since then, players have been getting more and more power in the NBA, getting larger contracts, requesting trades, signing wherever they want, recruiting each other and simply sitting out if they don’t want to play. All of this was unheard of in the NBA 15 years ago. But LeBron’s push for player empowerment changed the complete hierarchy of the league and gave the steering wheel to the players. Some would argue that this was good for the league, while others would say it’s destroying it. One thing’s for sure: it has its perks and flaws.

While it’s entertaining to see super-teams due to the abundance of transcendent talent playing together, some feel it kills the nature of the NBA. The league gets too centralized with only a few select elite teams, while the rest get the short end of the stick and no attention. That mainly happens to the small-market teams that don’t have the appeal of the big cities to lure stars. 

It also killed loyalty and the romanticism that once graced the NBA, with every team having its star or two that were heroes of the city for their whole careers. Instead, nowadays, it’s normal to see star players switch teams numerous times and look for their best situation, rather than sticking it out with their original team. Of course, there are exceptions; Damian Lillard is the obvious one.

Shumpert believes that fans look at the game differently and focus on the wrong things ever since James joined the Heat. Fans have always been interested in rumors and transactions, but there's no question that it reached a new level during the player-empowerment era. These days, some fans are more interested in what happens off the court than the actual games.

James' free-agency choice in 2010 will undoubtedly continue to be viewed as one of the most polarizing moves in NBA history.

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