Four Years Today, LeBron James Made the Decision; What’s Next?
LeBron James made his ‘Decision’ four years ago today on ESPN, declaring he was leaving Cleveland for Miami. Now, two titles later, James is a free agent again, and hopes to land a max contract. Oh, and there are rumors the King may go back home to Cleveland, where his NBA career started in 2003.
James and his ‘Big Three’ in Miami, (Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, who both opted out) didn’t win a third straight title, and James had to carry a lot of the load against San Antonio in the Finals, averaging 28.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 4.0 assists a game.
Wade’s knees are aging, and Bosh was reportedly offered a max deal from Houston. (Although, Bosh also told Houston he wants to play in Miami with LeBron).
However, it’s going to come down to money. James wants a max deal, and he deserves it as the best basketball player on the planet. The real question is: how much less money are Wade and Bosh willing to take to play with the King? Is James satisfied with the role players that Pat Riley is signing (signed Josh McRoberts and Danny Granger and drafting Shabazz Napier)? How many more years does Ray Allen have left? Can Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole overcome their disappointing performances in the 2014 NBA Finals?
His other option is to go back to Cleveland.
I mean, it would be pretty remarkable to see a star switch teams for a third time in his career if James does indeed go back to the Cavaliers. He could go back home to start a new legacy with newer, fresher, and younger stars (Kyrie Irving and Andrew Wiggins). Irving is an All-Star (who Cleveland recently to a max deal), and Wiggins has the potential in the NBA.
When it actually comes down to the decision, I think James wants to win, and I still think Miami gives him the best chance to do that. The Heat will still be beasts in the East and James can create a dynasty on South Beach. Not to mention the core around James is better in Miami. If it’s true that Bosh wants to stay and play with LeBron, that’s great. He also would have Wade, Allen, Chalmers, Cole, Battier, Chris Andersen, and Udonis Haslem. Meanwhile, in Cleveland, James would have a new coach (David Blatt), and a group of young stars (Irving, Wiggins) that the pressure would be on to help give LeBron more championships. After all, at this stage in James’ career, his goals are to win rings.
It’s all speculation though. While James had to carry the weight of the Heat on his shoulders against the Spurs this season, he will have to do more of it in Cleveland. Perhaps all the King should do is listen to Bill Russell, who shares some advice on the secret to winning a championship in “The Book of Basketball,” by Bill Simmons,
“It’s much harder to keep a championship than to win one. After you’ve won once, some of the key figures are likely to grow dissatisfied with the role they play, so it’s harder to keep the team focused on doing what it takes to win. Also, you’ve already done it, so you can’t rely on the same drive that makes people climb mountains for the first time; winning isn’t new anymore. Also, there’s temptation to believe that the last championship will somehow win the next one automatically. You have to keep going out there game after game. Besides, you’re getting older, and less willing to put up with aggravation, and pain…when you find someone who at age 30 or 35 has the motivation to overrule that increasing pain and aggravation, you have a champion.” (Page 50)
Case in point, Tim Duncan found the motivation at age 38 when he helped the Spurs win a fifth championship in June. Bosh is 30, Wade is 32, Allen is 36, Battier is 35, and Haslem is 34. James isn’t getting any younger and neither are his teammates. Can he find the same secret that Russell found to add to his legacy?
What do you think?
*For comments and story ideas, email Sam at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @samtastad.