The Wait is Over
Many believed it would not happen. The marquee free agent players resign with their current teams prior to July 1, 2010. Nobody believed NBA Superstars like Dwyane Wade, Lebron James, Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce and Amare Stoudemire would actually hit the free agent market and that their teams would risk losing them for nothing. At Midnight tonight, the dream becomes a reality.
Last week has been like hell to those fans of a team with a chance to keep their superstar, or in my case, a chance to get one of the superstars. As a Bulls fan, breaking news on Sunday made me want to go to the local ice rink and perform a triple axel after hearing that Lebron James and Chris Bosh moving to Chicago was a “done deal”. Then on Monday, Steven A. Smith’s report Bosh, Wade and James would all end up signing in Miami, for less money made me want to jump off a cliff. The story of the players all meeting in Miami and discussing that possibility floated out there, but Wade was in Chicago all weekend visiting his family. Therefore, unless the super secret meeting happened earlier than reported, I do not believe it. In fact, I do not believe anyone knows what is going to happen. Everything at this point is just speculation.
Yesterday, David Letterman had New Jersey Nets part owner and Rap Superstar JayZ on his show. Letterman had this to say about NBA Free Agency, specifically what Lebron James should do.
“He really oughta stay where he is, and help the city. He would be a bigger hero that way, than if he [came here. NY] And what are the chances of him winning with Knicks? Zero? What are his chances of winning with the Nets? Notttt that strong.“
JayZ just gave Letterman a blank stare. The rapper is prevented from commenting on James despite their documented friendship, however part of me agrees with Letterman. James is a hero to many in Cleveland as they find solace in watching one of the greatest players of all time overpower other teams. If he leaves, Lebron becomes Cleveland enemy #1 jumping in front of the same man who took an entire football team from the city of Cleveland, Baltimore Raven’s owner Art Modell. Truly, the final announcement by Lebron is a lose, lose situation.
Lose scenario A
Lebron decides to leave Cleveland and ends up, for argument sake, with the Bulls. He has a chance to play along side Derrick Rose for the next 5+ years and possibly become a dynamic duo, one that could go down in NBA glory. He could tell everyone it was all about winning, and use the “I took 30 million dollars less” excuse when people blame him for leaving Cleveland to suffer, as a city and a franchise, after he grew up in Akron. On the other hand, people could praise him and say that by moving onto the bright lights of the big city in the second major media market in the US, Lebron is actually making himself more money and he is playing in the house that Jordan built
Lose Scenario B
Lebron stays in Cleveland, who fails to make the necessary moves to compete with Orlando, LA and other powerhouses of the NBA. Lebron never wins and he suffers under a legacy of being one of the best not to win a title due to the lack of a supporting cast. James spoils away in Cleveland as the king of Ohio but always pines for the glory of a championship. He also never meets his goal of being a global superstar, as he needs to win a title in order to be mentioned in the same breath overseas as Jordan and Kobe (Bryant, not beef).
If LeBron signs in Miami he is riding Wade’s coat-tails to a title, and if he stays in Cleveland, he is seen as greedy. Lebron James is the biggest free agent since Shaq to consider leaving his original team and yet, he would be the biggest “bad guy” for doing so.
It’s His Decision and It matters to players and fans alike
In the end, Lebron James’s decision will shape the future of the franchise he chooses and make a difference to the people of Cleveland. If he stays, the city continues to grow (as much as Cleveland can actually grow) and the Cavs will continue to draw fans, help the local economy and eventually bring an NBA crown to Cleveland (in theory). If he leaves, the people of Cleveland will survive but they will not fondly remember the 6 years he played at the Quicken Arena, but instead where they were when the announcement came that he was playing elsewhere.
James’s final decision also shapes the rest of free agency, none of the other free agents are going to sign until the biggest fish does.
As a Bulls fan, I never expected the Bulls to be even mentioned as a possible suitor for ‘King’ James. As the season went on and Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah continued to improve, the outlook seemed better and better. I predicted he would stay in Cleveland and deal with the fact that he may have to win a title on his own. In breaking down possible destinations, there are six possible places I think he could end up:
1. New York Knicks- He would have to wait at least 2 seasons for a chance at a time
2. The Heat- He would win right away with Wade and another free agent but it would mean he never was ‘the’ star on the team (People may say, Jordan had Pippen but it was not Pippen’s team, it was Michael’s team. Miami is D-Wade’s team)
3. New Jersey Nets- They are young and have a billionaire owner and are moving to Brooklyn. If he is going to go to New York, he would choose to play in the Garden and not with the team that is second fiddle to the Knicks. 4. LA Clippers – They are the Clippers and I just cannot see him competing with Kobe in LA.
5 and 6. This leaves Chicago and Cleveland.
I think and hope that its Chicago. He would play with Rose and Noah in a global media market and could win multiple titles with Chris Bosh. He would make the 30 million dollars up fast due to endorsements. While Cleveland suffers, James could keep his image polished by continuing to give back to the city he once loved. Michael Jordan once ruled the town, now James can use the beloved Bulls to build his dynasty, on and off the court!
Leave your comments on where you think Lebron James should sign and why.