The 2010 NBA Free Agency period is about as hot as the July sun beating on the asphalt of my driveway. This summer’s biggest prize is LeBron James. As teams make their pursuit to obtain King James, his decision holds the key to all other free agent movement. The key teams in the “King James Sweepstakes” are the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Miami Heat, New Jersey Nets and the New York Knicks. The remaining players are Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire and a slew of players waiting on James next move.
Let’s be realistic! LeBron’s on a championship mission! With that said, New Jersey and New York should be eliminated from the running. I know the Nets have a new owner who can make James a billionaire athlete and Jay-Z, who is his boy, but LBJ with NIKEs’ help, is destined to be a billionaire. Being friends with Jigga comes with the territory and that relationship will remain intact. The only way New Jersey can land James is: 1) Hope he signs for just a three year deal somewhere else, 2) Have a roster that compliments his style of play, should he become a free agent again, and 3) Leave New Jersey and make Brooklyn it’s new home. As for the Knicks, there’s no light at the end of the tunnel. New York is a lost cause and the only basketball excitement Madison Square Gardens will provide is the Big East tournament. That leaves us with the finalists: Chicago, Miami and his current team, Cleveland.
Chicago could be a nice story for James. Can you see it? Bulls PA annoucer Tommy Edwards….”HERE’S THE STARTING LINE UP FOR YOUR CHICAGO BULLS’! ” AT ONE GAURD, FROM MEMPHIS, AT 6’3″ DERRICK ROSE”. “AT THE OTHER GAURD POSTION, FROM KANSAS, AT 6’3″ KIRK HINRICH”. “AT CENTER, FROM FLORIDA, AT 6’11” JOAKIM NOAH”. “AT POWARD FORWARD, FROM USC, AT 6’9″ TAJ GIBSON”. “AND AT SMALL FORWARD, FROM ST.VINCENT – ST. MARY HIGH SCHOOL IN AKRON OHIO, AT 6’8” LEBRONNNNNNNNNNNNN JAMESSSSSSSSSSSS!!!!!! For those who are now excited, this will never happen. LeBron James ultimate goal is to be the greatest professional basketball player ever. Period! How can he accomplish that in the house that Michael Jordan built? Forget about being the NBA’S greatest. The King would first have to eclispe Jordan’s six championships to even be in the conversation as the greatest Chicago Bulls’ of all time. With Jerry Reinsdorf’s track record since the debacle of the 1990s dynasty, looking at the current roster with the possiblity of Hinrich going to Washington, even if Chicago landed another big free agent, its hard to picture a parade on Michigan Avenue anytime soon.
The Miami Heat would love to land “The King” as well as retain the services of Dwayne Wade. Having two perennial All-Stars is key to winning a championship. The question is can the two co-exist? Wade has been the man for the Heat since his arrival in 2003 and James has been the man for the NBA the past two seasons. Will it be possible for Wade to play second fiddle to Lebron? Can you fathom Lebron allowing Wade to continue to be the face of the Miami Heat? Is it room for both players to share the spotlight? Of course, but it will not happen. In fact, Miami might lose out on keeping Wade as he requested a second meeting after his free agent meeting with the Chicago Bulls.
This leaves us with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who in my mind is the hands on favorite to win the grand prize. Here’s four reasons why: 1) Even though Cleveland didn’t win a NBA title, the franchise was the best record-wise the past two seasons with a combine regular season mark of 127-37. 2) The current team is built for the regular season but they are a few players away from getting over the hump. 3) The Cavs now have a coach in Byron Scott that will command the respect of the team including James. 4) This may be the biggest reason why James will stay and that’s legacy. LeBron has put Cleveland on the map the same way MJ did with Chicago. What makes it more compelling, James did it with just one NBA Finals appearance. Think of what will happen if he wins just one Title in a Cavalier jersey? Not only would Cleveland be on the map but the whole state of Ohio would be relevant. So my prediction is that he stays put for another three years. That will give him ten years will the club and if Cleveland is unable to win a championsip in that time, James will have every right to play for another team. So Cleveland fans, don’t worry. The King will be back , but brace yourselves. The next three years is going to be a hell of a ride.
By Keith Madyun