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Associated Press
Dwyane Wade, center and Chris Bosh, right, laugh as LeBron James, left, speaks during a fan event at the American Airlines Arena in Miami Friday.

Finally, a team we can hate more than the Lakers.

This is going to be fun.

Cheering against the Miami Heat — a.k.a. "The Big Three," Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade and, ta-dum, LeBron James — is going to be a national pastime. If Derek Fisher had been thrown into the mix, it would have pushed this thing over the top.

It's only been a few days since The Decision, and Bronbron has already had his first booing — at a wedding. Next season should be a treat. He won't even be able to step outside of Greater Miami.

Talk about entertainment.

LeBron's decision has been reviled by everyone, but not by former NBA star Chet Walker. "James is a genius for what he engineered with Wade and Bosh," he said. "For the first time in league history, players themselves, not an owner or general manager, put together a championship team."

That's just great, Chet. The inmates are running the asylum. Why don't we just have the superstars pick their own teams, shirts and skins? They could stock up five or six teams with stars, and all the other teams can serve as extras on the set. Or go out of business, whatever. Good idea — kill the golden goose.

Already, another one of the league's top young players seems to be preparing for his own move a la James. Chris Paul, the New Orleans point guard, reportedly hinted about arranging his own star union with Amare Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony in New York one day.

"We'll form our own Big Three," Paul allegedly said.


And it all started because "King James" had a confidence crisis, despite all the bluster and the outsized ego and the CHOSEN1 tattoo on his back. He claims he chose Miami because it presented the "greatest challenge." Au contraire. He took the easy way out.

By way of justifying his desertion of Cleveland, James noted that no superstar can do it alone. That's true, but superstars don't run off to another team to win championships, either. Superstars win with their own team; they work from within. They build something of their own. They don't flee to another ready-made team to surround themselves with other stars.

Larry Bird won three championships with the Celtics, the team that drafted him. Magic Johnson won five championships with the Lakers, the only team he played for. Isiah Thomas stuck with the Pistons through losing seasons and playoff failures before winning two championships. Like James, he failed to win a championship in his first seven years in the league, but he didn't bail out on his team.

Tim Duncan and David Robinson stuck with the Spurs through their building years and won multiple championships. Dwyane Wade won a championship with Miami, his original team.

When James justifies his flight to the arms of Bosh and Wade, he noted that Michael Jordan had a great supporting cast. That misses the point badly — or a couple of them. When Jordan failed to win a championship in his first six seasons, he didn't run off to find a stronger supporting cast. He persevered with the Bulls and made them his team. It would be a big stretch to say he ever had a great supporting cast. Scottie Pippen became a star because of Jordan, and the rest of his teammates were players such as Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, Luc Longley, John Paxson, Horace Grant, Bill Cartwright, Steve Kerr and Toni Kokoc.

Jordan took his team and carried them on his back to six championships. His value was clear when he retired for most of two seasons. With Jordan, the Bulls won three straight championships. Without Jordan, they lost in the second round two straight years. When Jordan returned, the Bulls won three straight championships again before Jordan retired a second time.

Say what you want about Kobe Bryant, but he did just the opposite of James. He stayed with the Lakers because he wanted to be The Man. He didn't even want Shaquille O'Neal's help. And unlike James, he has proven that he can deliver a championship from within, not by going out and searching for a custom-made team.

John Stockton and Karl Malone never won a championship, but there was honor in their loyalty and their decision to build a winner with their own team, not someone else's. They carried their team to two NBA Finals, only to lose to Jordan's Bulls.

No matter what James does now, he will never be Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant or Larry Bird or Magic Johnson. He's not going to carry anyone's team. James is going to be Dwyane Wade's Scottie Pippen. He's fleeing to Miami to play with his hand-picked teammates and friends. When has a legitimate superstar ever done such a thing in the NBA?

During his seven years in Cleveland, James couldn't win a championship (Bird and Johnson had won three championships apiece by then). He wilted under the pressure in last year's playoffs in a way Jordan and Bryant never experienced. Apparently, that was enough to convince him that he is not the player everyone has convinced us he is.

No athlete has ever had stardom thrust upon them the way James has, aided and abetted by a Madison Avenue that was anxious for another MJ to push product. His hype and attention has far outstripped his accomplishments. Now he has placed himself in a no-win situation in Miami.

He should have followed the lead of another rising star and free agent: Kevin Durant chose to stay right where he is. He's going to win or lose with his own team in Oklahoma.