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The wait for LeBron could be fatal to all but one

Howie Evans | 4/12/2011, 4:35 p.m.
Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett, going hard to the iron during an NBA finals game at the Staples Center, learned they couldn’t win a championship alone. (Kevin Reese photo)

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LeBron James took the Cavaliers to the finals in 2007. He now knows one cannot beat five. (Kevin Reese photo)

The clock is ticking down to 2010. The year LeBron James will hit the open market as the most sought-after player in NBA history. For now, LeBron, off to a monster start, is the sole property of the Cleveland Cavaliers, whom he lead to the NBA Finals in 2007,losing to the San Antonio Spurs 4-0.

Facing San Antonio's Tony Parker, the MVP, and a well-rounded cast lead by Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley and bolstered by a superb group of role players, was an eye-opener for James. At this point in time, he realizes he cannot win an NBA championship by himself, no matter how many points he pours through the nets. There isn't one single player in the NBA who can do it by himself. Kevin Garnett couldn't do it by himself in Minnesota. Kobe learned he also couldn't do it by himself. The NBA dynasties of yesteryear and dominant players like Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Michael Jordan didn't win multiple championships by themselves. They were surrounded by skilled and sacrificing role players.

The Knicks of today do not have one dominant player. David Lee is the closest to being an outstanding role player. So in their pursuit of James, they and other teams that will pursue him surely understand he must be surrounded with a cast much like those dynasties of yesteryear in Boston, Los Angeles and Chicago. The Knicks and President Donnie Walsh, if they are going to be prime-time players in the pursuit of LeBron, should understand that they need to do more than clear salary space to have an opportunity to sign him. They need talent. If LeBron became a free agent today, the Knicks wouldn't stand a chance in hell at signing him. Not with the team as it is today.

And as Donnie joins the fray, he is surely aware that not one team is going to help him stock players that will entice James to don a Knicks uniform. He'll have to chase talented and experienced free agents. But what happens if Donnie can make those moves to give him a shot at James? But most of all, what happens if he doesn't? It could be fatal, and the Knicks would join those organizations that have spent a decade or two in the basement looking up. No need to name them. We know them well.