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In 2003, the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 19-year-old phenom straight out of high school with the first pick of the NBA draft. Six years later, LeBron James is standing on top of the basketball world entering the final year of his contract with Cleveland.
The Cavs finished the 2009-2010 regular season with a 61-21 record which was good enough to clinch the NBA's best record, as well as home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
James finished the season in MVP fashion, finishing with 29.7 PPG, 8.6 APG, and 7.3 RPG.
Everything looks set for James to bring a championship back to Cleveland, so what can possibly be the problem?
Over his young career, James has dazzled basketball fans everywhere with his emphatic scoring and thunderous dunks. He has been compared to some of the best ever. He has been swept in the NBA Finals.
And now he is contemplating leaving the franchise that has made him into a superstar.
The New York Knicks seem to have the inside track on signing James to one of the richest deals in NBA history. James' intriguing decision will generate interest all over the world during the offseason as he contemplates signing with a big-market team.
Will signing with the Knicks have the entire sporting industry eating out of James' hands? Yes. Will signing with a big-market team make James one of the richest athletes in the world? Sure.
But if James decides to become a Knick in 2011, not only will he lose respect from his Cleveland fans, he will tarnish his legacy forever.
Signing with the Knicks will create havoc for anybody who has respect for the game of basketball.
James belongs in Cleveland and everybody would probably agree. To leave a championship-caliber team for a rebuilding, money-market franchise is ridiculous and absurd. If you add the fact that Cleveland has the cap room to sign James to a rich deal, only one can ask themselves, "What is LeBron going to do in New York?"
If James ever wants to be considered one of the greatest of all time, he will remain in Cleveland for the rest of his career. If James has an ounce of loyalty and respect for the game of basketball, he will remain a Cavalier for the rest of his career. If James wants to win multiple NBA championships and be mentioned in the same breath as Michael, Larry, and Magic, he will remain a Cavalier for the rest of his career.
Mickey Mantle was a Yankee, Michael Jordan was a Bull, Joe Montana was a 49er, Larry Bird was a Celtic, James Worthy was a Laker, Emmitt Smith was a Cowboy, and hopefully, LeBron James will be a Cavalier.