2010 NBA Free Agency: Is the LeBron James Saga Hurting King's Career?

David F. BaerCorrespondent IJune 29, 2010

CLEVELAND - MAY 11:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers looks on while playing the Boston Celtics in Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 11, 2010 in Cleveland, Ohio. Boston won the game 120-88 to take a 3-2 series lead. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

You can’t really get mad at LeBron James if the superstar decides to stay in Cleveland, where he was born, went to high school, was drafted, and played his first seven seasons.

But should the King decide to jump ship, which right now seems highly likely, the fans of the teams he didn’t choose will certainly dislike him.

Especially the ones in New York.

Say James does sign a long-term deal with Chicago. He’ll be booed by all the fans in the other cities he passed up to play there.

New York fans will start to boo him, instead of woo him. Miami fans will yearn for Dwayne Wade to crush James (providing, of course, Wade stays in Miami). Nets fans wouldn’t possibly cheer him (and they have had a lot of practice at not cheering, just see exhibit A: 2009-10 record).

James has allowed this entire process of dumping salary and wooing to go on far too long. As a result, his image is going to take a hit.

It doesn’t matter how good or famous he is now, or eventually becomes, or even how many championships or MVPs he wins. LeBron James has tarnished his image forever.

No matter what he does now, James will never be the best.

You think Michael Jordan was booed on the road?

Not even Kobe Bryant gets booed on the road.

This process has turned fans against LeBron. There will be boos whether he likes it or not.

This whole "saga" has dragged out now for more than two years and dates back to when the Knicks knocked over the first domino to create salary cap space. The free agents of 2010 have been more important than the NBA season itself, with the exception being Game Seven of this year’s Finals.

This whole "saga" has turned into a tornado, dragging the Clippers, Nets, Heat, Bulls, Cavaliers, and Knicks into a frenzy. Each team (with perhaps the exception of the Clippers) believed they had the best shot at James at one point or another.

Basically, each fan base, at one point or another, thought they were getting LeBron James.

Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but five teams are going to be very disappointed.

If James does decide to leave Cleveland and doesn’t join the Knicks, you can bet New York fans will treat him about the same way they once did for Reggie Miller.

Yes, it’s going to be that bad.

And why shouldn’t it?

Recent history aside, New York is still the best place in the world to play basketball. Madison Square Garden is special. There’s something to be said about playing in the Big Apple.

And with that opportunity in front of him, if James passes it up, New York fans will never forgive him.

Neither will the fans in any of the other cities James decides to shun. If he lands in New Jersey; Chicago, Cleveland, and Miami, fans will join New York in singing the chorus.

This all could have been avoided a long time ago.

If James were staying in Cleveland, he would have signed an extension long ago. Plus, it’s no surprise Bosh, Johnson, and Stoudemire would be leaving their teams too. These players couldn’t have spoken before now? 

James will go wherever he wants, whether it be New York, Chicago, Miami, or elsewhere. But wherever he does land, he better be prepared for his normal cheers to sound more like jeers.