LeBron James: What If He Hadn't Chosen the Miami Heat? Part 2

Andy BaileyFeatured ColumnistJune 14, 2011

LeBron James: What If He Hadn't Chosen the Miami Heat? Part 2

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    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Back in September of 2010, I put out a lot of speculation about the most over-analyzed athlete in the world.  I wondered how things may have been different had LeBron James chosen to "take his talents" elsewhere.

    What if LeBron hadn't decided to join the Miami Heat?

    As you may recall, they weren't the only team publicly recruiting the world's most talented player.  The Nets, Knicks, Bulls, Clippers and even the team that just beat them in the finals were all reportedly interested in the self-proclaimed king.

    With the 2010-11 campaign in the books, it seems fitting to revisit this topic again.  I'll look at all the teams that were in the hunt for LeBron, speculate on what their lineup would have looked like had they landed him, and whether each team would have been a better choice...

     

    Pt. 1

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New York Knicks

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    2010-11 Starting Lineup

    PG - LeBron James

    SG - Landry Fields

    SF - Danilo Gallinari

    PF - Amar'e Stoudemire

    C - Ronny Turiaf

     

    New York had the cap space to add both LeBron and Amar'e.  And of course, the Carmelo Anthony deal would not have gone down, so they'd still have some depth.

    This team would have been phenomenal on offense.  LeBron and Amar'e are two of the best scorers in the league, and the outside shooting of Fields and Gallinari would have brought balance to the attack.

     

    Better Choice? Yes

    LeBron would have played in a bigger market, which would have been good for growing his brand (one of his biggest desires).

    This team would have been much deeper and more balanced than what Miami ended up with.

Chicago Bulls

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    2010-11 Starting Lineup

    PG - Derrick Rose

    SG - Dwyane Wade

    SF - LeBron James

    PF - Taj Gibson

    C - Joakim Noah

     

    In terms of pure talent, this would have been ridiculous.  

    Had LeBron and D-Wade conspired to go to Wade's hometown of Chicago rather than South Beach, the Bulls wouldn't have had the cap space to sign Carlos Boozer (big loss, right?).

    Taj Gibson would have started at power forward, but he's better on defense anyway.

    Tom Thibodeau made the Bulls without James and Wade one of the best defensive teams in the league.  Imagine what he could have done with them.

    Every basket opponents got against this squad would feel like a little victory.

     

    Better Choice? Yes

    LeBron would have faced a lot of the same criticism here that he did in Miami.  He's not Jordan, he doesn't want to be the star, etc.

    The amount of talent on the roster and the coaching of Thibodeau would thoroughly outweigh the negatives.

New Jersey Nets

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    2010-11 Starting Lineup

    PG - Devin Harris

    SG - Anthony Morrow

    SF - LeBron James

    PF - Kris Humphries

    C - Brook Lopez

     

    This squad would have struggled more than any other he could have wound up with.  Despite their youth, the addition of LeBron probably still would have made them a 50-win team.

    If they still managed to trade for Deron Williams, they would have been in great shape.

     

    Better Choice? No

    Even if New Jersey did have LeBron and D-Will, this wouldn't have been as good a choice as Miami.

    At this point in his career, LeBron is terrible off the ball, and D-Will would have done most of the handling.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    2010-11 Starting Lineup

    PG - Baron Davis

    SG - Eric Gordon

    SF - LeBron James

    PF - Blake Griffin

    C - Chris Kaman

     

    This team would have challenged the Lakers as the best team in Los Angeles as early as their second year together.

    Just imagine pick-and-rolls with Blake Griffin.

     

    Better Choice? Yes

    Again, the bigger market would have been good for LeBron's marketability and the media would have gone nuts over this Los Angeles rivalry.

    This lineup has the edge over what Miami ended up with at every position but shooting guard (but that's not to say Eric Gordon is a slouch).

Dallas Mavericks

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    2010-11 Starting Lineup

    PG - Jason Kidd

    SG - J.J. Barea

    SF - LeBron James

    PF - Dirk Nowitzki

    C - Tyson Chandler

     

    I'm a die-hard Mavs fan and even I have to admit that I would have been pretty excited if Dallas had landed LeBron in a sign-and-trade with Cleveland (the package would have revolved around Caron Butler and Rodrigue Beaubois).

    In hindsight, LeBron's presence almost certainly would have disrupted the great chemistry that led the Mavs to the title they just won.

     

    Better Choice? No

    When it comes to basketball, Dallas is definitely Dirk's town.  If you thought LeBron was a scapegoat in Miami, just imagine what Mavs fans would have thought about him had he blown their shot at a title.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Let's face it.  If LeBron had stayed in Cleveland, things would have turned out the same for the team.

    They would have won tons of regular season games, only to come up short in the playoffs.

Miami Heat

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    Whether you read many of my articles, or follow me on Twitter, you know I'm not a big fan of LeBron.

    But even I have to admit, the overreaction to Miami's loss to a clearly better Mavericks team in the finals is pretty crazy.

    Jeff Van Gundy is already talking about Miami trading LeBron, for crying out loud.

    Yes, LeBron lacks a killer instinct right now, but isn't that what people said about Dirk Nowitzki for over a decade?

    This team has been together for less than a year and they made it to Game 6 of the NBA Finals.  They ran into a better team.

    Losing in 2011 doesn't mean the "Big Three" has no chance to improve (they're all in their 20s).

    It's interesting to speculate on whether or not LeBron made the right choice.  But right now, there's really no way to know.

    Deep down, I'm actually glad he chose Miami.  I'm actually glad he did it the way he did.  He significantly increased interest in the league and he gave all of us a villain to root against.

    And things are so much more interesting when there's good guys and bad guys.

    I hope they make the finals every year for the next five or six seasons, and lose to the underdog every time.  But I'm a hater.  So there's that.

     

    You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter       @_Andy_Bailey

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    You can follow Andy Bailey on Twitter       @_Andy_Bailey