Where Will LeBron James Play Next Season?
He’s been called The Chosen One, highlighting the fact that he’s the “second coming” of Michael Jordan. You may know him as L-Train or King James. Whatever the moniker may be, LeBron James is the most exciting player in the NBA right now. Much like Jordan at the height of his career when James steps up to the microphone the entire world listens. Kobe Bryant may sell more jerseys (and win more championships) but LeBron James is the media darling.
That’s why news of James’ departure from Cleveland, the city that he’s called home since his NBA debut in 2003, is on heavy rotation on sports talk radio and cable television. Instead of spending the off season reporting the ins and outs of why King James and company failed to pull off yet another championship season, sports journalists are speculating wildly about James’ free agency status.
Where will LeBron James play roundball next season? There are two main answers to that question. Will James follow his heart or his wallet?
1. LeBron James Will Stay in Cleveland
If you miss the good old days of sports when players stuck with one or two teams over their entire career you may take comfort in the fact that many sports junkies are suggesting that LeBron James will play at least one more season for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wild reports from Cleveland indicate that city officials and big wigs have offered James everything from free beer for life from a local microbrewery to a personal visit from Betty White (emphasis on the personal). Cleveland has fallen in love with James. It is not common to find a superstar athlete with a genetically freakish body that engages willingly and happily with the media and fans; more rare is that caliber of athlete who has some local connection to his team and seems content to play with them. Sure, there are those who say that James’ body language over the last two or three seasons indicates a “devil may care” attitude about his team, but Cleveland fans had little to smile about before James put on his red and gold #23 jersey.
2. LeBron James Will Play in New York
A report on James’ meeting last week with the New York Knicks is making the rounds on social media sites. In various articles and commentaries from around the world, people are freaking out about the Knick’s courting of King James. According to inside sources, the Knicks showed LeBron James a marketing plan that would put $1,000,000,000 in his pocket over the course of the next few years . . . should he sign with the Knicks of course. Put together by a room full of marketing wizards (and perhaps a couple of long nights with the bottle), the report on James’ possible earnings as the star of the New York sports scene suggests he could make a billion dollars. We’ve heard of big contracts in sports, but nothing with that many zeroes. Call me crazy, but the devil himself could dangle a billion dollars in front of me and I’d play small forward in hell.
Speculation about James wanting to play in New York comes from common sense. While Cleveland has entered the NBA spotlight since James’ signing seven years ago, it is still a relatively small Midwestern town. The big money in the NBA is in big-market towns. There are exceptions to every rule (including LeBron James who makes about $20 million a year) but for players chasing top dollar, markets like LA and New York are payday Mecca. Pay attention to the tone of those journalists who swear that James will end up in NYC — most of them are indicating that this is a player who doesn’t care about winning championships, only about signing checks. Whether or not you believe this, you’ve got to admit the instant appeal of those nine zeroes.
Are there other potential landing spots for LeBron James? Undoubtedly. Any team with enough money to pay him has been in contact with the King himself, and James has made visits with several teams though he has only technically been a free agent for a couple of weeks. There’s a lot of noise being made over the Nets — if there was ever a team that could use an injection of Vitamin L it is the lowly New Jersey Nets, and the high profile purchase of the Nets by a Russian billionaire (in cahoots with James’ friend, rapper Jay-Z) has really added fuel to the fire.
Speculation drives sports journalism. We don’t know what we know until we find out what we should have seen coming. The hiring of Byron Scott in Cleveland could be a sign that LeBron is still calling the shots for the Cavs, a situation that such a young player would be foolish to give up. Still, big paychecks and even bigger media markets are capable of starrying the eyes of even the most committed young superstar.
See also: Fantasy Basketball Leagues