The most talked about issue of the year, it’s been dissected more than the captured alien in _Independance Day_ — it’s gotten to the point where you don’t want to hear more about it but can’t stand to not talk about it. I’m by no means a basketball expert, but I think I know enough to place a bet: Sorry Ohio, Lebron is gone.
Lebron might be the best basketball player in the NBA — but he and his team are definitely the best sports PR people in the world. They want to grow his name till its bigger than his game, and they carefully cultivate how he appears in public.
“LeBron is not going on a tour. He never planned to go on a tour and has not been a part of any team’s plans for a recruiting trip.” — Maverick Carter (James’s Friend/Bussiness Partner)
Why not go and get wined and dined? Why play it low key in the press? Let’s imagine how a couple different versions of this play out in the press when it’s all over.
Scenario 1: Lebron Brings Team’s to Ohio, signs with the Cavs.
After closed door meetings at his home with several NBA teams, Lebron James has decided to re-sign with the Cavs and finish the mission at home. Talking head discussion of loyalty follows, gradually replaced by discussion of what the Cavs do now to put a winning team and coach around Lebron that they haven’t already done.
Scenario 2: Lebron Get’s Wined and Dined, signs with another team.
After a whirlwind cross country tour, Lebron James has signed with [enter team name here]. cue photo/video montage of Lerbon with celebrities, mayors, expensive dinners. Talking heads discuss the end of Lerbon as champion of the common people of ohio, savior of their sports hopes, etc. etc.
Scenario 3: Lebron Get’s wined and dined, signs with the Cavs.
After a whirlwind cross country tour, Lebron James has signed with [enter team name here]. cue photo/video montage of Lerbon with celebrities, mayors, expensive dinners. Talking head discussion of loyalty follows — juxtaposed with the video of all that eletist craip, Lerbon is heralded as the first and second coming of basketball Jesus, both saving Ohio from sports mediocrity and sacrificing his sure[r] shot at championships for the sake of his people.
Scenario 4: Lebron Brings teams to Ohio, signs with another team.
After closed door meetings at his home with several NBA teams, Lebron James has decided to sign with [insert team here]. In the absence of celebrity photos and video montage, talking heads discuss how Lebron carefully considered his options, and just had to make the best decision for him and his family.
1 is the most boring. 2 is a great story, but Lebron could become the villain. 3 & 4 make for the most media attention with the most compelling (positive) stories. In 3, he cements himself as Ohio’s first son, by giving them that video montage to rub in everyone else’s faces. In 4, he has not betrayed Ohio, he has not rubbed that same montage in his biggest fans faces. He bows out of the state with grace. He is not going for the whirlwind tour, so I think he’s gone.
Maybe that’s a little too simple, but lets add a little detail on top. The Cavs organization has spent a ton of money, signed everyone Lebron wanted, and they still didn’t make it happen. They currently have no coach, no GM, and an aging roster that couldn’t get it done. His other options have been over discussed, but I think you can narrow it done. The Clippers are the second team in LA and the Nets are the Cavs with an eventual NY address (Jay-z is not a factor — James is reportedly meeting with them first, aka showing respect before he blows them off) — they are both out. The Knicks are the Bulls without the talent already on the team, but they do have NY going for them.
That leaves the Bulls and the Heat. The Bulls have talent and room for two max contracts. They have the shadow of Jordan, but that also means continuing and embellishing that championship legacy and international brand recognition. The Heat have money for Wade and Lebron + 1, or Wade and Lebron + money to go out and get depth. Miami is also much nicer place to be in the Winter than Ohio or Chicago, and has international appeal. The Bulls would have the talent and youth to contend for years, the Heat would probably only have a few years to make it happen. As for odds on a final destination, I say 55% Bulls, 35% Heat, 10% Knicks.
Here’s hoping this all is over with quick.