LeBron James Left with Two Choices: Chicago Bulls or Cleveland Cavaliers
In typical LeBron James fashion, the superstar will announce his final decision Thursday night at 9 PM.
Everyone has been on the edge of their seats waiting for James' decision. His basketball camp has become the most publicized amateur camp in recent history, due to the circumstances and ESPN's Shelley Smith camping out next to the gym all day.
People also have flocked to his recently created Twitter page, waiting for a decision.
So who will it be?
Six teams looked to be on LeBron's list when free agency started. It looks more and more like New Jersey, New York and the Los Angeles Clippers are fading away.
Miami just landed two of a potential big three, by wooing Chris Bosh to join Dwyane Wade in South Beach.
Will James join the the duo? Don't count on it.
James' two main choices are Cleveland and Chicago. Each provides hugely beneficial reasons for him to join.
In Chicago, he can team up with a talented young nucleus, featuring Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. He can also chase the legacy of His Airness, Michael Jordan.
In Cleveland, he can stay with his hometown team and finish his journey toward an NBA Championship. The Cavs don't have as appealing of a lineup as Chicago, but are moving in the right direction by hiring Byron Scott.
So who will it be?
We won't find out until Thursday, but until then, here are the reasons why Chicago and Cleveland are his top choices.
The Bulls have been pulling out all the stops to bring in James.
They've cleared even more cap space by trading a draft pick and Kirk Hinrich. They've also led a ridiculous marketing campaign to bring in the King.
Out of all the teams in the sweepstakes, the Bulls have done the most to try to get James to come to town.
When it comes down to it, there are some great reasons to select the Bulls.
The three main reasons he should consider Chicago are the following: a young core of players built around Rose and Noah, huge amount of cap space to bring in supporting free agents, and the Michael Jordan Legacy.
I'll explain the reasons in the following slides.
The Support of Rose and Noah
In Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah, the Bulls have two of the top young players at their respective positions.
Rose, the No. 1 pick in 2008, has grown into one of top point guards in the league.
A pass-first point guard, Rose has been thrust into a scorer's role for Chicago, yet he hasn't always looked completely comfortable in the offense.
With James in the lineup, that would change.
Rose could thrive with the two pairing up. Because of his amazing speed and quickness, the point guard could penetrate and dish to James at any given opportunity.
The pair would be a very dangerous, fluid combination. Watching them run the court would be one of the prettiest sights in the NBA.
On top of this, Noah has developed into a top center.
Even without elite size, he rebounds with the best of them.
He also doesn't back down in the post and is one of the toughest big men in the league, despite being on the skinnier side as a center.
He could be an enforcer to protect James. Dennis Rodman protected Jordan. Noah would do the same for James.
The Bulls cleared a huge amount of cap space to try to bring in some of the top free agents.
With James as the only big fish left in the pond, the Bulls should have enough room to sign other top free agents this year and in the future.
They could also trade top young players, like Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, to give James support.
Free agency would be the first place the Bulls could make an impact, so signing some of the best players still available is a must.
Power forward and shooting guard would be the focus.
The Bulls could bring an elite post man like David Lee or Carlos Boozer to pair with Noah down low.
The signing would substantially bolster the lineup and give James the low-post support needed to take pressure off him as a scorer.
At shooting guard, a guy like Ray Allen would be a great fit.
The Bulls have a ton of cap space. They could potentially bring in some of the top free agents on the market to support the King.
Michael Jordan's Legacy
The Leo Burnett Worldwide advertising agency led a brilliant campaign to convince LeBron to go to Chicago.
Their campaign, which asked James if he could fill Jordan's "shoes" and used a fake Chicago Tribune to show James winning seven championships, highlighting how James could chase down Jordan's legacy by coming to Chicago.
LeBron wants to go down as one of the best players ever. What better place to prove this than Chicago?
Although it might be hard to live up to the MJ comparisons, James would thrive on it.
The chase would enthrall him. Although he might not ever bring in seven championships, James could still become a legend during the chase.
The combination of being in Chicago and the MJ juxtaposition would make James even more marketable than he already is.
Building his brand has always been a huge factor. What better way to build it than to chase down arguably the biggest brand name in all of sports?
At first, it looked as if Cleveland was falling far behind in the sweepstakes for James.
But, as free agency has progressed, LeBron's return to his hometown has looked more and more possible.
The top NBA analysts believe James will end up staying in Cleveland, and there are many reasons why he should.
He could finally finish his seven-year journey towards bringing home a championship in his own town.
Besides that, some of the other main reasons for LeBron staying in Cleveland are as follows: he'd make the most money in Cleveland, the front office signing Byron Scott is a step in the right direction, and the hometown factor.
The Money Factor
Money has always been important to James.
As he wades through free agency, the amount of money he could make in Cleveland should be a convincing factor to stay.
With Cleveland being his former team, the Cavs have the opportunity to give James about $30 million more than any other team.
The extra money was the biggest factor in getting Joe Johnson back in Atlanta.
With James looking to make the maximum amount of money this free agency period, the incitement of those $30 million could be a deciding factor.
He's also searching for the team that could provide the most in terms of his quest for a championship.
The Cavs lineup isn't too far behind the Bulls. In combination with the extra money, these factors should be compelling reasons for James to return to Cleveland.
By hiring Byron Scott, the Cavs have a much better man at the helm than what Chicago offers in Tom Thibodeau.
He's a huge step up from Mike Brown, who looked like one of the worst coaches in the league late in 2010.
Having a top coach like Scott has to be enticing to James. The Cavs won despite Brown's poor coaching. Such would not be the case under Scott.
The move shows that the front office is moving in the right direction.
Although the Cavs don't have the same amount of cap space that Chicago presents, Cleveland can bring in supporting players other ways.
A trade for Chris Paul isn't out of the question and Scott's signing could be a step in that direction after their time in New Orleans.
Paul and James are great friends (Paul supposedly convinced James to get a Twitter account this week). If he signed with Cleveland, James would be vocal about bringing the top point guard to Cleveland.
The Cavs might have to give up young and budding power forward J.J. Hickson, along with other top players like Anderson Varejao and Delonte West, but Paul would make up for the losses.
On top of Paul, the front office could bring in a supporting shooter like Mike Miller or Ray Allen.
The Scott move shows that the franchise is trying to progress. With a quality coach and the chance to make moves in the market, James has another reason to return to the Cavs.
Born Here. Raised Here. Plays Here. Stays Here.
A billboard in downtown Cleveland heeds this message supported by pictures of an evolving James reaching for something past the end of the sign.
The message describes how Cavs' fans feel about James returning to the Cleveland. It also portrays how the man himself should feel.
Born and raised 45 minutes outside of Cleveland, in Akron, James has lived in the Cleveland area all of his life.
He dominated at Akron's St. Vincent-St. Mary's before heading straight to the pros with the Cavs.
What better way to solidify his legacy than to bring a title to his own town?
His attempts have been futile so far, but the chance to bring glory to the city in which he was raised must be a draw for him.
James wants to win a championship. That accomplishment would be much more satisfying if he did it in Cleveland.
The combination of the struggles of the last seven years and the chance at a championship in the place he was raised would make an NBA title much more satisfying.
Cleveland fans have expressed how they feel about James. Now, it's James turn to show them how he feels.
Final Verdict: Chicago
When it comes down to it, Chicago presents a better case for James to come to town.
Miami supposedly have Wade and Bosh signed, but with so many stars on one court, the Heat don't offer James the chance to solidify his legacy as the greatest.
Chicago gives him that chance.
He'd be Jordan, Rose would be Pippen, and Noah would be Rodman.
That foundation would be the start towards James' journey towards Jordan's legacy.
On top of that, the Bulls possess the cap space to bring in some of the other top free agents still available on the market to pair with James.
It would give James the chance to prove he's the next Jordan in the place where Jordan thrived.
Cleveland might be his hometown, but the Bulls offer more in terms of what James is looking for.
Now it's up to James.
Like the Jordan shoebox read, "Do you dare fill these shoes?"