His clout as an organizational force in the increasingly friend-centric league ensures that any front office would be given the leverage it needs, with LeBron on the team, to bring in another superstar or two.
And James has proven himself to be the source of cultural change with both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Miami Heat. It wouldn’t take long for even a team as broken as the Milwaukee Bucks to catch up to the championship tone he sets on the floor.
He elevates those around him better than perhaps anyone, knowing perfectly how to make opportunities for teammates out of the inordinate amount of attention teams must pay him on both ends of the floor.
This is not to say James will head to the Bucks this offseason—he won’t. All indications suggest he isn’t leaving South Beach anytime soon, as he’s obviously, immensely comfortable living in Florida and with the guidance of Pat Riley and Erik Spoelstra.
Bosh’s 37 points and game-winning three-pointer recently led the LeBron-less Heat to a road victory over the Portland Trail Blazers, one of the best home teams in the league.
James is clearly in good hands for years to come with his current team, but how can we be sure of what motivates him? Why are we so sure that continuing this particular championship crusade is his intent when he could write a new, bolder chapter in his career and make it more intricate?
Perhaps his is a story we haven’t heard—or even thought of—yet.
Franchise loyalty has been a hallmark of many great athletic careers.
However, LeBron James is not Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Kobe Bryant—he is only himself. Sticking with one team was never a high priority for Wayne Gretzky. Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders didn’t even stick to one sport.
Who’s to say LeBron shouldn’t be counted among their crowd? For example, the King could even easily take his talents to football and try to solidify himself in the conversation as the greatest athlete of all time.
A variety of clues suggest James is not exactly a company man. The most obvious is that he already bolted from a team built around him once, but he’s also been surprisingly outspoken about various business happenings in the NBA—the 2011 CBA, in particular.
His words about the league as a marketing entity have been more prickly than allegiant. While unlikely, it wouldn’t be entirely shocking to see him put his money where his mouth is and take his colossal capital elsewhere.
No one else in the NBA has LeBron’s range of options. He’s quashed all reasonable doubts about his supremacy, is still improving in his prime and is somehow also one of the league’s healthiest players.
James could rearrange the Western Conference and somehow pal up with close friend Chris Paul if he wanted to. He could also lure Kevin Love away from the Minnesota Timberwolves and start something fearful with him.
The list could go on—practically everyone wants to chase titles with the greatest player in the game.
And, of course, he could always return to Cleveland and become an ironically redemptive hero in his hometown.
Is that who LeBron James is? Time will tell. Only he can choose his identity from the infinitude of options. For now, it seems enough to marvel at the incredibly rare air he's reached. He holds the pen of his and the rest of the league's story.
Everyone else is a character in it.
Like the new article format? Send us feedback!