LeBron James Decision 2010: 10 Ways LBJ's Choice Could Affect His Legacy
The NBA season is over, the draft is finished and free agency is in full swing.
With Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carlos Boozer already spoken for, only LeBron James remains unclaimed.
In typical dramatic fashion, LeBron has scheduled a primetime press conference on ESPN.
I won't pretend to be a LeBron fan, but anyone will tell you he is going about this all wrong.
While some may be swept up in the hype of where LeBron plays next year, there are plenty of ways LeBron's decision could affect his personal legacy.
LeBron James: The Egomaniac
The immediate effect of LeBron's press conference is the opinions generated from the mere idea of calling a press conference for himself.
He has also created a Twitter account and is launching his own website amid the hype of his pending decision.
While Bosh, Wade and others have Twitter accounts of their own, they didn't start them around the hype generated by their status as free agents.
LeBron is capitalizing on his free agency in the worst way, and it is overshadowing the game and the league in one fell swoop.
Not that Michael Jordan didn't call a few press conferences in his day, but those were only to announce his retirement, un-retirement, second retirement, second un-retirement and final retirement.
Basketball as a Business Not a Game
Free agency has become an abomination throughout professional sports.
There are thousands of stories about teams shelling out money for players, only to have their investment flame out and fall well short of living up to the multi-million dollar contract.
Far too many players are looking for a payday instead of a championship.
The New York Knicks produced an entire pitch that centered around LeBron standing to earn billions in endorsements if he signs with the team.
Unless you cure cancer, end world hunger and bring peace on Earth on top of playing basketball, you are not worth millions upon millions or anywhere near a billion dollars.
There is no doubt in my mind that LeBron wants to win a championship.
But in the meantime, he is holding the league hostage with his decision and trying to become even more of a brand than he already is.
The league already changed the rules to prevent an influx of high school players trying to be the next LeBron and forgoing college for NBA money.
Global Icon Hated Around the World
If you've heard it once you've heard it a million times, but haters are going to hate no matter what.
LeBron has met with the Knicks, Nets, Heat, Bulls, and Clippers over the past week and is presumably mulling over his decision on who to play for.
Throw the hopeful Cavaliers into that stable of teams and you have five teams, five cities, that are going to absolutely hate LeBron when he makes his decision.
He is building up the monumental decision, and when five cities lose the LeBron sweepstakes, they're going to feel like they were taken advantage of.
The Knicks mortgaged their future to woo LeBron, and may not have the firepower to win the battle even after signing Stoudemire as a potential running mate.
The Bulls picked up Boozer in the same vain.
The Nets and Clippers are a mess themselves.
The Cavs will have nothing if LeBron leaves.
The Heat will be fine with or without him.
Tying His Legacy to Wade and Bosh
The Miami Heat are pretty much set with the offseason acquisitions, but would probably prefer to move Michael Beasley and bring LeBron in for some added punch.
LeBron could be part of the most potent trio of superstars this side of the Celtics. The major difference is that the timetable for Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett was short, which left them with no other option but to go all-out in Boston.
Wade is 28, Bosh is 26 and LeBron is 25, and they all came out of the 2003 draft class.
While it would be a tremendous storyline, winning half a dozen NBA titles alongside two other great players isn't much for individual accolades. LeBron wants to make a name for himself, and teaming with Bosh and Wade is not the way to do that.
Kobe Bryant already has to fight the stigma of not winning with Shaq, or Pau Gasol to be more recent.
How will LeBron escape the fact that he can't win it all without Bosh and Wade?
A Legacy of His Own
As has been mentioned already, LeBron wants to make a name for himself.
While he has plenty of options, each destination will open up a new criticism.
If he goes to Chicago, he'll never be able to separate himself from Michael Jordan.
If he goes to Miami, he'll be a big-name coattail rider.
If he goes to New Jersey, he's in it for Jay-Z.
If he goes to New York, he'll be labeled a money-grubbing egomaniac.
If he goes to LA with the Clippers, he's in Kobe Bryant's shadow.
If he stays in Cleveland, his hour-long press conference will be an even bigger waste of time and make him an egomaniac anyway.
But he'll be a loyal egomaniac, staying with the franchise and the city that hasn't had anything to be excited about since Jim Brown with the Cleveland Browns.
LeBron James is Cleveland, plain and simple.
What Economic Downturn?
While LeBron is deciding which team to sign with, the commoners of the world are working their jobs, trying to make ends meet for their families.
That's assuming they have jobs at all.
LeBron isn't worried about his job security, paying his bills or feeding his kids. He is worried about his cable television appearance where he'll likely pledge his allegiance to a new team for max money.
This is sort of a broad criticism of professional sports, but LeBron is the biggest target right now.
Players may have plenty of charities they donate to and I am sure their hearts are in the right place, but it doesn't change the fact that LeBron has a 35,000 square foot home in Akron.
Not to attack his or anyone else's character, but it seems as though some athletes believe they are worth more than doctors and teachers.
More Pressure to Win Instantly
We can look at Boston's recent model for competing for championships as the exception to the rule.
Allen, Pierce, and Garnett were individually great, but couldn't win it all. Together, they were able to put aside their individual stardom to bring Boston its 16th championship.
Most championship teams are built over time, not thrown together over an offseason.
It seems to be a forgone conclusion that wherever LeBron goes, that team will make the playoffs in the first year.
If they haven't won a championship by the third or fourth year at the most, people will start to question why they signed LeBron in the first place. He was expected to win in Cleveland, and he only got them so far by himself.
If he happens to sign anywhere other than Cleveland, he won't be able to cite a lack of surrounding talent as a reason for failing to deliver a championship.
Overshadowing Instead of Complementing Teammates
No matter where LeBron goes, it will instantly become his team.
The Bulls are no longer Derrick Rose's team.
Eric Gordon won't be the future of the Clippers.
The Heat becomes the LeBron show featuring Bosh and Wade.
The Nets and Knicks are the only teams without viable franchise players, unless you count the severely underrated Brook Lopez in New Jersey and newly signed Stoudemire in New York.
It is already apparent that he is the franchise player for Cleveland, and leaving the team will create a long fall for the Cavs without anyone to pick up the slack.
The team may win a championship, but it will be credited to him more than the supporting cast.
Sure, Jordan had Scottie Pippen, but it isn't Pippen's silhouette donning every stitch of his own brand of Nike apparel.
Does anyone so readily recall Horace Grant or John Paxson in remembering the Bulls' six NBA championships?
Rose and Gordon are notable in their own right, but with LeBron around they become footnotes in whatever history he writes.
Chasing History Against All Odds
To go along with the expectation to win from the start of his career with his new team, LeBron has to overcome the delayed start in his quest for a championship.
LeBron just finished his seventh season. Jordan won his first title in his seventh year, and Kobe already had three after his seventh year.
Kobe is still chasing Jordan's six titles, while LeBron struggles to not end up like Karl Malone, Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, George Gervin, John Stockton, or any of the other greats that could win even one title.
What if he fails to win a championship with his new team, or worse Cleveland finds a way to rebound and win one without him?
He may have all the endorsements and statistical accolades, but how easily forgotten are the players without the hardware to show for it.
Bigger than Basketball and the NBA
It isn't a stretch to say that without the NBA, LeBron wouldn't be the so-called global icon that he is today.
He may have made a lot of money playing overseas, but it is unlikely that he'd have the same exposure that playing in the NBA has afforded him.
With this press conference and premeditated delay in his decision, LeBron is essentially saying that he is bigger than the NBA and basketball.
There is a reason the media has dubbed him LeFavre, as only Brett Favre has held his league, his sport, and the media hostage with as much or more success.
LeBron is making his acceptance of some absurd amount of money from one of a handful of teams into a spectacle for his own benefit.
The NBA gets press at the same time, but for all the wrong reasons.
With a lockout on the horizon, the league is worried about a stoppage in play, while LeBron begins counting his guaranteed millions before then.
The world eagerly awaits what LeBron has to say for himself and where he intends to continue his already statistically illustrious career.
Only time will tell whether his decision proves to be a good one, but for right now he is at the top of the list of professional athletes getting too much face-time.
At least he bought the ad-space for his hour-long press conference and donated the proceeds to charity.
We wouldn't want it to be all about LeBron, right?
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