2010 NBA Free Agency: C'mon LeBron James! NYC, Big Lights, Big Dreams
LeBron needs to come home. To New York, that is.
LeBron may be comfortable and well-loved in Cleveland, it may be his home and the home of his friends and family, but it's time for him to leave. A bird's gotta leave its nest before it can fly. And LeBron is never gonna fly while he stays in Cleveland.
First, let's address talent. The Cavaliers claim they can put better players around LeBron then the Knicks can. This is false.
Without LeBron, the Cavs have an underperforming Antawn Jamison, An aged and near-decrepit Shaq, Mo Williams, who I'm utterly convinced will be a below average point guard without LeBron spreading the floor, drawing the defense, and dishing out double-digit assists, and Anderson Varejao.
The truth of the matter is, we've seen over the past years that LeBron can take a team with zero other championship calibre players and make it a championship calibre team.
The Bulls can very rightly say that they have the building blocks in place to provide LeBron with a great surrounding cast. Derrick Rose is a stud point guard and Joakim Noah is a better version of Varejao. They also have some decent cap space, so they can hold on to their stars and maybe sign another good player. But, I believe the Knicks also have the foundations set to give LeBron a supporting cast that can win titles.
the Knicks have the cap space to bring in another star, someone like Chris Bosh for instance, whose impact would eclipse Noah's. If the Knicks grab these two players, and if they get either one then their chances of getting the other go up astronomically, they immediately become one of the top teams in the East.
The Knicks also have David Lee, who many believe will be scampering in free agency because the Knicks plan to nab some superstars, but if Lee does stick around he has all-star talent. I don't think Rose should factor in much anyways. LeBron is essentially a point guard; only five other players averaged more assists than LeBron in the regular season: Steve Nash, Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Rajon Rondo and Jason Kidd. He can do the job better than Rose anyways.
Plus, there's the chance the Knicks grab Joe Johnson or another guard with a sign-and-trade move or out of free agency.
It isn't about the money either.
The Cavs have the right to pay LeBron more than any other team, but who cares? Certainly not LeBron. Ask Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods or Roger Federer, your money doesn't come from your salary (or winning tournaments), it comes from endorsements. Nike doesn't have a salary cap.
And the best place to be for that is in New York. He may be the biggest thing to ever live in Cleveland, but the eyes of the world never reach Ohio, they're too busy being blinded by the bright lights of NYC. If he wants to be an international superstar, he needs to be in one of a few cities that can take a star and turn it into a supernova: and that means New York, LA, Chicago, Boston and maybe Miami.
People in Europe and Asia and Africa don't know LeBron. Maybe they've heard of him, but they don't know him, worship him, and love him like we do. But they know Jordan and Kobe. And that's part of the problem for him too. The Clippers, who have the talent and money to land LeBron, are almost out by default. Besides the fact that they're the Clippers, and are thus prone to destroying players' careers, LA is Kobe's city.
And Chicago is even worse. Chicago is, and will always be, Jordan's town. Some day Los Angeles won't be "Kobe's city," there's too much talent and history there. But nothing could ever stop Chicago from being Jordan's city. LeBron would have to walk under Jordan's statue every day going to work. How could he pick the one city where he could never really be the king? LeBron James is too big to spend his career in someone else's shadow.
For 99.9% of the people in America, making it to the NBA would be accomplishment enough. And for 99% of the people in the NBA, making it to the Hall of Fame would be accomplishment enough. But that still leaves that tiny fraction of a percent who are capable of being something even bigger. Someone like that comes around maybe once or twice a generation, maybe not at all.
LeBron has that potential. He'll get his trophies and his rings; the question is, does he want more? Does he want the immortality that someone like MJ has achieved? If so, the throne of the Empire State has been vacant for far too long.
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