This summer, Stephen A. Smith of ESPN reported that LeBron James would seriously consider joining the New York Knickerbockers after the 2014-15 season. For this to happen, the Knicks would need several things to go their way, including James to opt-in to his player option after the 2013-14 season. But today, I'm not talking about whether James will sign with the Knicks. But rather, I'm here to explain why the Miami Heat's No. Six should come play for the Knicks -- and what would happen if he did.
Let's start with what LeBron has already done at Madison Square Garden. On basketball's biggest stage, in the most famous arena in the world, James has handled the Broadway lights masterfully. In 15 performances in Manhattan, James has averaged 29.5 PPG, which is the third highest average in the past 45 years (in a minimum of 10 games).
He ranks only behind the unparalleled Michael "Air" Jordan (31.8) and Kobe Bryant (30.7). Now determining the greatest of these three legends is a debate that often gets NBA fans extremely emotional and testy, but I think we can all concur that a 28-year old James is far more valuable today than a nearly 35-year old Kobe or a 50-year old Michael Jordan.
In addition, James maintains the title as the only active player to have two 50-point games at the Garden.
This scoring ability certainly illustrates why Knicks fans in particular would want the King to move to orange and blue, but what incentive does he have to come to New York other than a few great scoring shows at an arena?
One word... legacy.
Even if he does not consistently say it, James wants to be remembered as the greatest athlete to ever play his sport. Just as Wayne Gretzky, Cassius Clay, and Babe Ruth wanted. This desire is not a selfish one, but a natural one. Athletes most closely resemble the superheroes that we all want to be on the inside. The great ones have extraordinary bodies, remain focused in the clutch, and respond well in the face of fame. If LeBron signs with the Knicks, it will be he, not Dwight Howard or Shaquille O'Neal, who will be the world's superman.
When James "decided to take [his] talents to South Beach," the Heat instantly became one of the most valuable and popular franchises in the National Basketball Association and on Earth. This is the impact that James had when he signed with Miami in 2010. If this is the effect he had on Heat, can you imagine what would happen if he brought his talents to the biggest stage of all, New York?
Just to give you a sense, the 2010 census recorded the population of Miami at approximately 400,000. New York over 8.1 million. Further, most agree that Miami's cultural significance for the rest of the world is nearly non-existent, while New York is the center of time, the center of the world, and yes, the center of basketball.
Not even factoring in culture, James's becoming a Knick could have an impact many times greater than when he signed with Miami.
If James put his pen on a New York Knicks contract, you can forget the Heat... you can forget the Lakers... you can forget the Celtics... you can forget Kobe Bryant... you can forget Miguel Cabrera... you can forget Tiger Woods... you can forget Sidney Crosby... you can forget Tom Brady... you can forget Floyd Mayweather... you can forget every other athlete in the world other than Christiano Ronaldo, and Lionel Messi.
If this happens, LeBron James, one of the greatest players to ever play the game of basketball, if not the greatest, will be forever married to the greatest, the most famous, the most glamorous city in the solar system and beyond.
Jersey sales would rise through the roof. A ticket to the Garden would cost two arms (it already costs one). Sponsors would line up outside the James household. And all this before even stepping on the court.
If he can succeed in New York, if he can handle the fame with poise and focus on bringing a long-desired title to New York, he will be remembered as the greatest basketball player in history.
The last time someone of LeBron's stardom and ability landed in New York, it was a man by the name of Alex Rodriguez. His time in a Yankee uniform has brought about personal life scandals, locker room problems, steroid accusations, boos from the fans, and post season struggles. Rodriguez has earned a ring with Yankees, but the 2009 Yankees were not his team, they were Derek Jeter's team. A-Rod played a significant part and performed throughout the year, but he was a piece, not the piece of the puzzle that made that team click.
LeBron James has the opportunity to break the streak of a Knicks team that has been deprived of a championship for over 40 years. If he can bring New York to that point of greatness, the Knicks value and influence would approach that of the Dallas Cowboys, New York Yankees, and Manchester United.
The King, only with the Knicks, only with New York, could rise to the top... Where on his throne, he would rule the world.