Why LeBron James Running for NBPA President Is Exactly What the NBA Needs

Dan Favale@@danfavaleFeatured ColumnistAugust 1, 2013

MIAMI, FL - JUNE 20:  LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat reacts in the second quarter while taking on the San Antonio Spurs during Game Seven of the 2013 NBA Finals at AmericanAirlines Arena on June 20, 2013 in Miami, Florida. 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 Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

LeBron James is what the NBA Players Association needs.

Any and all change would be welcomed at this point after the tedious and embarrassing battles between Derek Fisher and the union's former executive director, Billy Hunter.

Who better to usher in an era of transition than the greatest player on the planet himself?

According to Fox Sports' Jason Whitlock, LeBron is thinking along the same lines and is considering a bid to succeed Fisher:

LeBron James, the game’s best and most popular player, is mulling a bid for the union’s presidency.

“It’s something he has talked about with a small group of people,” a source with close ties to James told FOXSports.com on Wednesday. “He was very vocal at the meeting during the All-Star Weekend about the need for the union to dramatically change. There is a new executive director coming in and new commissioner. He recognizes that this is the time for the union to change.”

Whitlock's source goes on to say that the time commitment involved would make it unlikely that LeBron actually takes on such responsibilities. Which is no surprise. Winning championships and MVPs, managing endorsements and appearances and posting Instagram videos can be very time consuming.

Still, the idea has been implanted in our heads, and it's too late for us to forget about it.

The thought of LeBron running the NBPA is rather comforting. Following the latest ordeal, the league needs people in place who not only preach stability, but also radiate it.

Few things, few people are as certain in this league as LeBron. Save for his free-throw shooting, he can be counted on to do anything and everything. His track record, especially since joining the Miami Heat, speaks for itself.

Mostly, the union and league needs his face and what it represents (just like it always has).

Superstars win championships. They demand the most attention. Teams build around them, plan years in advance of free agency to have an opportunity at courting them. They run this league.

Without the LeBrons, Kobe Bryants and Chris Pauls, there is no draw. There is no NBA as we see it today.

Despite all the influence superstars currently hold, they aren't the ones leading their peers into battle off the court. 

For close to seven years, that responsibility has belonged to Fisher, who has exactly zero All-Star appearances. Before him it was Antonio Davis (2005-06), and prior to Davis, there was Michael Curry (2001-05).

Not since Patrick Ewing (1997-2001) held the title of union president has the NBPA boasted the star dynamic that can be all too useful. And even then, Ewing was in the twilight of his career, steadily distancing himself from the pantheon of stardom he had called home for so long.

Not that I'm suggesting the union impose an All-Star selection minimum to the candidacy process. Forcing stars to become more prominent figures on the executive committee wouldn't be productive.

And to be fair, stars like Chris Paul and Stephen Curry are on the board as vice presidents, so the players' council isn't without its on-court dignitaries.

Never has the NBPA had a player with as much longstanding power as LeBron take up the mantle Fisher most recently held, though. Kobe was never president (could you imagine?). Neither was Michael Jordan. Or Magic Johnson. 

Those stars have presumably been too busy or not interested enough. One can only imagine how much of a time commitment it entails. The NBPA isn't all potlucks, nepotism and shady financial dealings, after all. That is, unless your name is Billy Hunter.

It says a great deal about the lack of time or interest when, per Whitlock, Jerry Stackhouse, an 18-year veteran on his last leg, has been the "point man" for the union over the offseason.

Nothing against Stackhouse, but if ever there was a time when the players, specifically the stars, needed to embrace a completely new direction, it's now.

What was everyone talking about during 2011 lockout, more than the actual work stoppage itself? Stars showing up to meetings. Dwyane Wade's brief spat with commissioner David Stern. Kobe's willingness to lend money so those in need could get by.

When stars talk, when they take action, people, most notably their peers, take notice. As the primary faces of the Association, they command a certain amount of respect, none more great than that of LeBron's.

Inserting himself into the presidential conversation would be a sacrifice on his part; I can't refute that or even try to. But think about what it would mean to see a superstar like The King surrender even more of his time for this, as if to say, "This is important, too."

Players were quick to assault the lockout, to resent its very existence. To refer to it as meaningless.

“Pointless,” Wade said of the lockout back in December, according to Steve Aschburner of NBA.com. “We ain’t going to go into all that  I just think it was a pointless lockout.”

Do something about it.

Per Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com, LeBron himself called for reform at a union meeting during All-Star Weekend. Serious reform.

Then do something about it.

Stars like LeBron and Wade have a voice; they should use it. Clearly, the lockout meant something to Wade; otherwise, Stern would still be invited to Thanksgiving dinners at WoW's house.

If the prominent athletes have a problem with the day-to-day activities of the union, of the league, then they should try to do something about it.

Constantly appointing players of marginal stature isn't going to have the same effect as electing a star would. No matter the context of the conversation—on court, off court, etc.—they're the most relevant of personas.

And no one is more relevant than LeBron himself, a two-time champion and four-time MVP.

He's the man to lead the NBPA into what it hopes is a new era, one void of "rogue leaders" and the absence of big names. He can inspire his fellow superstars to become more involved like himself, reviving a tradition that was once alive and well when all-time greats such as Isiah Thomas, Oscar Robertson and Bob Lanier called the same job their own.

It is he, LeBron, who can exert whatever leverage the players hold in the future to the fullest extent. Him, more than anyone else in the league. Not Fisher or Stackhouse or Andris Biedrins. Him.

“LeBron doesn’t do anything halfway and he has serious concerns about whether he has the time he knows the job requires,” Whitlock's source told him. “The demands on LeBron’s time are already substantial."

Interestingly, the reason why LeBron won't be the next union president is exactly why he should be. Exactly why his peers and the NBA need him to be.


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