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SBNation: “LeBron James, Kentucky and the AAU Revolution”

If you’re bored at work and have the time to read a lot of words, the fine people over at SB Nation have a great article on “LeBron James, Kentucky and the AAU Revolution.” The author, Jonathan Tjarks, writes about LeBron’s come up through the AAU ranks and how Calipari brings in the best AAU talent and teaches them to play as a team, rather than as the individual stars they were throughout high school. That philosophy hasn’t always worked out, but it’s obviously successful at Kentucky.

The AAU game, rather than driving elite players apart, has been steadily bringing them closer together. When Kentucky played Baylor in the Elite Eight, where they faced Perry Jones III (No. 9 in the Class of 2009) and Quincy Miller (No. 7 in the Class of 2010), it was as much a rivalry for the players as when they faced Louisville. They had played against Miller and Jones a lot more in the past than Kyle Kuric, and they’ll play against them a lot more in the future.

Their mindset is quite different from the first generation of post-Jordan players, who viewed individual stardom as the key to crossover appeal: Jason Kidd, Jim Jackson and Jamal Mashburn didn’t last two seasons in Dallas. Kevin Garnett and Stephon Marbury didn’t last in Minnesota, Penny Hardaway and Shaq couldn’t make it work in Orlando.

Yet as it turns out, fans aren’t that interested in stars of mediocre teams. Playing with other top players doesn’t hurt your Q rating, it maximizes it. The high concentration of talent on Kentucky didn’t turn fans off, it just made the challenge of trying to defeat them all the more exciting.

If loading up on stars worked for Kentucky, why does everyone scrutinize the Miami Heat for taking the same approach?

Read about it.

Just make sure you come back here when you’re done. We’ll miss you.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

24 Comments for SBNation: “LeBron James, Kentucky and the AAU Revolution”

  1. SW52
    11:28 am May 3, 2012 Permalink


  2. HOO HOO
    11:29 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    How many of the AAU handlers are on Cal’s payroll? WWW slipping them “hundreds, hundreds”?


  3. Because...
    11:30 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    LB23 has more hype, fanfare, adoration, and talking head lovers than anybody else to never really do anything in the playoffs. From Boobie Gibson’s threes against Detroit that earned “the king” a 4 game butt whooping by the Spurs to his disapearance against the Celtics to his most recent disappearance against the Mavericks. All this plus the fact that he can’t make a good PR move to save his life. (Cussing his mother, The announcement, mocking Dirk’s sickness) It’s a wonder some people do like him. I mean I really couldn’t care either way but their is a huge difference between UK’s young men who came together as a team and played the right way versus what LB23 seems to stand for.

  4. Because...
    11:38 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    *I know LB has changed his number. I use LB23 for the comparisons that the media love to make. Go Cats.

  5. CATS
    11:43 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    3.) You dont watch the NBA do you? You just repeated ESPN debate show talking points. LeBron plays pretty unselfishly with his current team. Sometimes to his fault, a la everyone crushing him for making a good pass at the end of a game when he has no good shot, and no one seems to care that the other NBA player misses a twelve footer to win.

  6. Chas
    11:44 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    LOL HOO HOO! It’s butt-hurt at it’s finest!! Keep holding on to the pipe-dream that NC#8 will somehow come down. For your sorry Hoosiers and the rest of college basketball; It’s over for you. Kentucky is THE program.


  7. Mkgistebow
    11:47 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Great piece and very true. As for lbj:He’s shooting 55% ,leading his team in assists, and is widely considered the leagues greatest defender. #3-You sir are an idiot

  8. Syrin
    11:49 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Why do they give the Heat flak? Because they made a spectacle out of it and showed Cleveland up in the process. If they showed ANY degree of professionalism, humility or modesty, no one would have the animosity they do now. When you have a giant ego trip of a show to announce to the world how wonderful you are, how you’re going to win 7 rings before ever winning one, and you look like an egomaniacal jack ass, you’re going to draw flak. C’mon drew, surely you’re not this naive, right?

  9. Some Guy
    11:53 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    HOO HOO, man I was just thinking the other day how much I was missing completely meaningless asinine comments. I mean little Bobby has been quiet since UK won, no suprise…

  10. To Because...
    11:54 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Exactly the point. The guy does more things better than anyone in the game. He’s leading his team in assists and is what, 4th in scoring? The guy could get the individual recognition of the scoring record every year if he wanted, but he’s a team player. However, people judge him off the decision and make him out to be a selfish player which is entirely untrue. He has NBA players surrounding him that don’t miss a damn shot if they have 3 feet separation from their defenders. When he gets doubled or trapped at the end of the game, the teams best chance to win is the guy standing wide open that shoots that shot at about 80%. However, it’s always his fault. Life of a superstar, I guess…

    And for the inevitable debate saying Lebron can’t hit a game winning shot, I leave you this:

  11. Because...
    11:58 am May 3, 2012 Permalink

    HAHAHAHA. Okay not sure how any of what you guys said makes me the idiot. I never said the guy couldn’t put of stats. Regular season stats and first 2 round stats are great. But… I said when the pressure is on he deflects and defers. Do you really see MJ or Kobe not taking the game winner? Would Bird or Shaq not want the ball? My point is…(and I’ll say it very slowly) He is undeserving of the hype he gets due to the fact that legends are made in the playoffs. Get it? Okay. Until he wins a couple titles without deferring to Wade for the big shot(s) you cannot tell me he is a all-time great. Again though just saying.

  12. lol
    12:10 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Wow. I’m a Heat hater, but that article was fantastic.

  13. Smyrna_Cat
    12:12 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    I hope the KSR writers are all made to read this. I use the term “writers” loosely.

  14. Thomas
    12:18 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Why is “loading up with stars” considered a distinct “approach”. Isn’t that the whole point? Do you really think the Heat signed the big three because Pat Riley was the only one to see it as a good idea? Does John Calipari recruit the best players in the country because he adheres to a radical school of thought that loading your team with talent is not only a forumula for success, but actually the whole point of recruiting in the first place? They don’t do anything different than any other front office or college coaching staff, they are just successful at it. What NBA GM in his right mind would not trade rosters with the Heat right now? And can anybody tell me that there is any college coach in the country that wouldn’t have given a testicle to have John Calipari’s roster last year?

  15. BigDanB
    12:21 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    “If loading up on stars worked for Kentucky, why does everyone scrutinize the Miami Heat for taking the same approach?” Because LBJ is a big D-bag!

  16. CATNTN
    12:40 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    Hoo Hoo is such a small little man.

  17. Smyrna_Cat
    12:56 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    16 … the idea that stars want to play together, even if it means fewer shots, fewer points, etc. is a little different. It used to be that players wanted to go someplace only if they were guaranteed a certain number of shots, minutes, etc.

    The whole idea of “play defense, sacrifice, do what is the best for the team and you in turn will be better than you were” is something Cal has definitely made happen at the college level.

  18. MadvilleMaroon
    12:59 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    “If loading up on stars worked for Kentucky, why does everyone scrutinize the Miami Heat for taking the same approach?” – doesn’t everyone who is not a Cats fan scrutinize UK for taking this approach?

  19. Twitter
    1:10 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    2, #nottwitter

  20. here ya go
    1:43 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    the lakers have been loading up on stars for years…people are just now noticing it?

  21. Cats
    1:57 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    12.) read the article 11.) posted, set your biases aside, and educate yourself

  22. To Because...
    2:40 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    I am setting my biases aside as much as humanly possible. Lebron is not perfect, nor will he ever be. However, I see nothing wrong with passing to an open NBA PLAYER for a game winning shot as opposed to trying to shoot over 2/3 defender on him. Kobe takes a completely opposite approach (Which I as a basketball fan disagree with personally)but you can’t argue with the results(championships, not percentage is what I mean by results here).

    I will say this, can anyone honestly argue Lebron isn’t/ will not be at this rate an NBA great? I can see the championships side of the argument, but it’s a team game. He can’t win it alone. That’s my problem when people judge players off their championships. Using that debate, Dan Marino isn’t an NFL great because he never one (We all know that’s ludicrous to say he wasn’t one of the best QBs of all time). For the same reason, even if Lebron never wins a championships, you still don’t throw his name around as an NBA great? C’mon now…

  23. To: To Because
    5:29 pm May 3, 2012 Permalink

    First off you and “because” are cracking me up. Espn should hire you guys to debate. But all joking aside I think the original posters point is that it’s a finishers league. Not saying that that is always fair or right. No doubt Lebron will be consider a great but until he can win some games that matter, ie: championships. He will be remember as a Charles Barkley or Ewing type. I think that’s what “because” is getting at. But this is a very interesting article.