Jul 17, 2010

LeBron James & "The Decision"

LeBron James has never been one of my favorite players. It's nothing in particular about his personality, it's just that he has constantly been compared to and elevated above the best player on the team that I root for, the LA Lakers. I recognize that he is a fantastic basketball player and is phenomenally athletic. He's just on the wrong team for me to really become his fan. "The Decision" changed that.

So much has already been said about LeBron James' "Decision" from a couple of weeks ago. Many, many a great writer have penned excellent summaries of all the points involved in the situation. While the stories range from overly protective to ridiculously wild, I will try to stay somewhere closer to the middle with what I hope to be two fairly common sense points.

If I'm LeBron James and I am objectively evaluating the events leading up to my signing with the Heat, I would admit that (1) the situation I manufactured was not good for my reputation, and (2) the team I chose is probably not the team with the best chance of winning a championship. I'm not sure which of the two points is more important to LeBron so I'll start with the first one.

The situation LeBron manufactured was not good for his reputation. I know that LeBron has publicly said before that he hopes to be the first pro athlete billionaire (link).  With that in mind, he is surely not feeling good right now as his once blue-chip image now has now had a major flaw exposed. Turning his back on the Cleveland Cavaliers is no the issue here, but the manner in which he did it.  Stringing them along for the first few weeks of free agency. Leaving everyone in the dark. The 1-hour special devoted just to him and his decision. It was tacky. Leaving Cleveland would have already been a huge blow to their franchise. Why make it any more by announcing it on live television without giving them a heads up?

In my opinion this major crack in his image is nearly irreparable. If he wins a championship with Miami everyone will talk about how it should have been Cleveland that he took to a championship and how he did not do it on his own but instead rode on the coattails of Dwyane Wade. If Miami does not win a championship and this Superstar Trifecta experiment fails then even more 'I told you so's will be piled on top of him. It's really a lose-lose situation for him.

The team LeBron chose is probably not the team with the best chance of winning a championship. This is the more debatable of the two points, but I still think it's pretty clear that Chicago was his best bet of competing for a championship for the next 4-5 years.  They have a budding point guard superstar in Derrick Rose, a defensive rock of a center in Joakim Noah, a reliable offensive power forward in Carlos Boozer, and other various role players to complete their roster.  Right now, Miami's roster consists of: LeBron, Dwyane, Chris Bosh, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Mario Chalmers, and Mike Miller. And the rest of their roster is going to be desperate minimum-salary veterans who are chasing a ring. I suppose we will never be able to say exactly how well Chicago would have done with LeBron. I think it would have been an amazing team.

In a way LeBron did get exactly what he hungers for: publicity. Can even bad publicity add positively to your image? I don't know. The common sense answer to me is 'No', but I'm no economics expert.

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