Free agency is heating up. Everyone is wondering where LeBron James will land. Even during the NBA playoffs the talk of the town was King James. In all honesty I don't see what all the hype is about. To me it's a slam dunk on where he should sign.
Should LeBron James stay in Cleveland or should he go?
The answer is he should stay.
Forget about all the so-called experts on ESPN and all of their reports joining forces with this player or that player. Forget all the paper-shuffling and "according to my sources" talk for one moment. Forget about all of the sign and trade, salary cap, endorsements and Jay-Z talk as well. Let's just keep this simple and look at the obvious.
James is probably the second best player in the NBA with Kobe Bryant being a clear number one. One of the biggest differences between the two stars is Bryant has his sidekick in Pau Gasol and a solid bench led by LaMar Odom. James as of today has neither.
James led the Cleveland Cavaliers to the NBA Finals three seasons ago and he's been a perennial all-star. He's performed with essentially no one helping him to get over the hump. All James needs is his Scottie Pippen. Like Michael Jordan, he needs someone to shoulder some of the burden. He needs a proven player who he can trust that doesn't need the spotlight who just wants to win.
James also needs a serviceable big man. Someone that's going to give you some stability, play solid defense and rebound: Someone who can get up and down the floor a la Marcus Camby.
The Byron Scott hiring cemented stability at the coaching position. It can be argued that Scott wasn't an upgrade over Mike Brown, particularly if you look at their career records, but Scott brings a legacy of winning as a player. Scott also coached the New Jersey Nets to two consecutive NBA Finals appearances in 2001 and 2002.
Furthermore, LeBron is from Akron, Ohio which is a stones throw away from Cleveland. There has to be a degree of loyalty to a city that's supported him to the hilt.
Here's why LeBron should not go to other rumored teams.
The Chicago Bulls?
No. Last time I checked that's Michael Jordan's city. Jordan has a statue out front. LeBron is a brand like MJ was. Why would he go to Chicago when there's no way he can live up to the legend of Michael Jordan?
The New York Knicks?
The Knicks inked Amare Stoudemire but they'll need a lot more than him to lure James there. The Knicks have been bad for a long time. It would make sense for James to get his Scottie Pippen in Cleveland and win there rather than go to another city where you'd have to rebuild even more.
New Jersey Nets?
I like Avery Johnson as a coach but there aren't enough players there for it to make sense. New Jersey hasn't done anything of note since current Cavaliers coach Byron Scott took the team to the NBA Finals 8 years ago. Being buddies with part owner Jay-Z and playing in a city that's not known for basketball won't do anything to enhance James' legend. Also, as bad as the Knicks are there are far more Knicks fans than Nets fans.
Nope. While the league has done all it can to promote James in the NBA, Dwayne Wade is the man in Miami. Wade also has what James doesn't -- a championship ring.
You'd have two top-flight players vying for a spot light that's not big enough for both players to share. Say as you wish, but there would be conflict. Who would take the last second shot when it's needed?
LeBron should stay right where he is in Cleveland. He can make more money than any other team can pay him, he can continue to forge his own legacy and do it with the same team just like Kobe Bryant is doing and Magic Johnson did with the Lakers.
Leaving Cleveland and playing with the likes of Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh would actually hurt James more than help him shape his legend. I think he wants to be known as the centerpiece of a championship team -- not a guy that couldn't hack it and had to recruit A-List stars to win titles. It would be hard for him to share a spotlight he deeply covets. LeBron can avert the latter if he gets some help.
All LeBron James needs is his Scottie Pippen and the rest will fall into place.
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