If LeBron James signs with Miami today, then the perception of the NBA’s most coveted free agent of all time will go from “King” to a desperate man.
At the beginning of free agency it was up to LeBron to determine more than his own fate.
The “King” became more than a free agent. He became a talent agent. Nearly every player who was available to sign with a team this offseason was waiting for LeBron to decide where he would go before making up their own minds.
Then came rumors of a “super team” forming among free agents Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, and LeBron James when talks of an alleged summit started taking place.
However, it seemed a given that LeBron would be the Superman of whatever super team formed, and out of all the suitors who cleared cap space in free agency this year to land a deal with one of the top available talents, it was up to LeBron to decide what metropolis Wade and Bosh would inevitably sign in.
Yet, after days and days of waiting with no hard evidence as to where “King” James would end up, Bosh and Wade showed some semblance of intestinal fortitude by shuffling off their lemming coils and deciding the fates of their own careers.
And of course, if Lebron signs in Miami too, James will actually end up the follower out of these three rather than the leader we all thought he was or at least expected him to be.
Lebron’s lack of leadership in this situation won’t just affect his free agency decision though. It will also have an effect on his future legend as well.
By going down south to be a part of what will inevitably be the most talent-rich team in the history of the NBA, James will be taking a flight to the top of the NBA championship mountain rather than making the hike all the others made before him.
His journey to the finals will be a first class luxury seat in a private jet, not an adventure climbing a steep cliff.
With all of the comparisons between James and Jordan, and the lack of championships from James seemingly the only separation between the two in the media’s eyes, LeBron is under the impression that if he gets rings, he will be the greatest.
But what James doesn’t understand is that when the greatness of players is talked about, it isn’t just about the number of championships you win, it’s how you win them.
Bill Russell has 11 rings; Sam Jones has 10 ; Tom Heinsohn, KC Jones, Satch Sanders, and John Havlicek all have eight. Yet, out of all the players to ever the play the game, Michael Jordan, who has six rings, is regarded as the undisputed greatest player of all time.
It’s understandable that James doesn’t want to go to Chicago and spend his career in the shadow of MJ, but by going to Miami he will only enhance the darkness that is Jordan’s shadow.
People were amazed when Jordan won his championships in Chicago, not expectant. In Miami with LeBron, it will be completely the opposite.
Commentators, fans, and writers will all say, “Jordan only had the help of Pippen, while LeBron had to form an Olympic team in order to win” and, “Jordan would have never left a team in order to win a championship' he would have had the confidence to know he could win one on his own.”
Go ask Kobe—after years of being called one of the greatest players of all time, he’s just now living down the stigma that he couldn’t win one without Shaq.
Some NBA Math: one Dwayne Wade + one Chris Bosh = Around 2.75 Shaqs (give or take a few decimal places).
In his quest to form a super team, James has ignored the fact that what makes the story of every super hero, squad, or team compelling and worthwhile is a villain. A person or group who poses some sort of threat and who shows some potential for future dominance.
Kobe and the Lakers have KG and the Celtics, Magic and Larry had each other, and Jordan and the Bulls had Isiah and the Pistons.
If LeBron decides to go to Miami, there will be no foe, no villain. The Heat will be an army with no battle.
LeBron will be a Zeus with no Hades.
Most of all, he will never be a Magic or Kobe. He will never be like Mike.