LeBron James, the most scrutinized NBA player of all time is at it again. Decision 2.0 is looming ever closer; let’s just hope it goes a tad smoother then last time. Where The King will end up has been talked to death, so I’ll throw my hat into the ring and try and breakdown where his kingdom should reside. I want to make this clear; this is not predicting where he will go, but rather where he should. The teams who seem to have a realistic chance of landing James consist of: Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Cleveland Cavaliers and Los Angeles Clippers.
The Cleveland Cavaliers, where to begin with this completely undeserving fan base. Maybe I can look past the fact that they inexplicably got 3 first overall draft picks in 4 years, as well as another two 4th overall picks, and still they are unable to make any sort of playoff push. What I can’t look past is the absolute despicable reaction that occurred immediately after the Decision took place. We all agree LeBron handled the situation poorly, but to go as far as to burn his jersey in the streets and sending him death threats is absolutely appalling, not only does this fan base not deserve one of the greatest NBA players of all time, they don’t even deserve an NBA team. Not to mention when LeBron was a Cavalier, they where unable to get him a sidekick in which he so desperately needed being the pass first type of player that he is. LeBron should stay well clear of this franchise and may God have mercy on Andrew Wiggins.
LeBron will have a great chance of winning a 3rd NBA title at the Clippers, but that being said it is also the least likely of scenarios as they rightfully do not want to sign and trade away superstar Blake Griffin. Also I’m not completely sold that the chemistry between LeBron and Chris Paul will be on par with that of Wade and LeBron. Two pass first superstars may not be the way to go, especially when LeBron lacks a killer instinct to take over games offensively, that being said, if they find a way to make it work, with DeAndre Jordan trying his best at a Ben Wallace/ Dennis Rodman/ Bill Russell impersonation and the incredible depth of sharp shooters they possess, incredibly scary. Even with all that upside, this is destination number two for James.
James should of course stay with the Miami Heat. Yes, Wade is ageing, and we are all longing for the days of 2006 Flash, but he is still a terrific sidekick and still a top 5 shooting guard in the NBA. Not to mention him and James have come a tremendously long way in terms of chemistry since there first year together in Miami. Bosh is also still arguably the very best 3rd option in the entire league; the only glaring flaw that this Heat team currently has is a weak bench and is somewhat weak at point guard. Pat Riley has already made strides in correcting this by drafting Shabazz Napier and then signing Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger. The Miami Heat organization is run beautifully, and there up down structure is rivaled only by San Antonio. Riley took no longer then a few weeks to make changes in persuading LeBron to stay, something Cleveland never achieved in 7 years. LeBron would be crazy to leave this first class organization, especially while Pat Riley is controlling it because he will make the necessary changes to put the team in the best position to fight for another title.
Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Julius Randle and LeBron? On paper, not terrible, but this does not prove to be an upgrade on his current situation in South Beach. Not only that, given Kobe’s past history with teammates, I really doubt he’s willing to take a page out of Wade’s book and become Pippen to LeBron’s Jordan. Not the most desirable destination.
Speaking of Jordan, he may play a bigger role in this saga then most realize. Jordan has contributed to the unfair expectations we continue to hold James to. If not for his perfect 6-0 record in the NBA finals, we wouldn’t already be dismissing the idea of LeBron being the greatest of all time due to his 3 finals losses. He has won 2 championships and we still expect more and more and thus he continues to search for greater situations to do so, and then as an unfair viscous cycle we scrutinize his disloyal behavior. This is also due to the loyalty of past greats such as Larry, Magic and Jordan (I’m aware he played 2 years with the Wizards, but for arguments sake, we’ll pretend that never happened). At some point we may have to come to terms with that as time progresses the loyalty we once expected from star players may no longer be plausible, with social media now a huge part of communication and bitter rivalries such as Magic and Bird or Bulls vs. Pistons now a thing of the past, current players are too friendly to one another, they essentially create these teams well before they ever materialize. Instead of star players wanting to go out and beat each other, as we were once accustomed to, they would much rather now play together. This has both pros and cons, for one, we now get “super teams”, when two super teams square off, there is nothing that compares, but as a result of this we no longer have a deep pool of talented teams as we did in the 80’s and 90’s.
The point of that rant was mainly aimed at LeBron’s legacy. He is a student of the game and knows as well as the rest of us that another change in team is not going to help his chance on getting his face carved into the NBA Mount Rushmore, but what if we learn not to rely so heavily on past events as a way to dissect every move these current players make? What if instead LeBron is carving out his own unique legacy? One in which the Larry O’Brien trophy follows him to which ever team he graces with his presence, and in future events we could be scrutinizing the next great player for only winning a championship for one team instead of multiple. The path he is taking is one in which we haven’t seen before, how his legacy ends is completely unknown, but I for one believe it should continue in Miami.
LeBron’s decision is his own, and whatever team he chooses becomes and immediate contender, instead of burdening the King with these countless expectations, we should sit back and enjoy his brilliance. He is very much a once in a generation type of player and I for one feel privileged to watch him during his prime. Whatever jersey James dons next year, his sheer dominance of the game of basketball will not falter.