If LeBron James' ego is really that big, he will (unintentionally) do what is best for the league.
There has been talk, for several weeks, about a King-DWade-CB4 troika in Miami. (That's LeBron James-
They could dominate the league. And that would be awful. It would be like choosing sides on the playground and giving one team the first three picks. It would be like giving your cousin every pick in the first round of your fantasy league.
This is not how sports are supposed to work, and it is
Arranging a superteam would be the easiest path to a championship for LeBron, but it would not be the best path. In fact, it would backfire on him.
Here are LeBron's stated goals, as far as I can tell:
1. Win championships.
2. Become the best player ever
3. Become a billionaire.
4. Purchase a small country, so he has somewhere to go on vacation after he purchases a large country.
5. Become a "global icon," because come on, how awesome would that look on a business card?
James could achieve No. 1 (win championships) on a superteam. But he could not achieve No. 2: becoming the best player ever.
(Jordan eventually came out of retirement to play for the Wizards, of course, but that's not relevant to the discussion. By then, the public had already accepted -- rightly or wrongly -- that Bulls management had forced Jordan into an early retirement.)
And this is why James cannot achieve that whole global icon thing on a superteam. Like James, Jordan chased every off-court dollar. The man made a movie with
James sometimes seems more worried about becoming a billionaire than about winning championships. But if he is smart, he will realize that becoming a global icon depends on his image, and his image depends on winning -- and, just as importantly,
And if he wins somewhere other than Cleveland, it won't be the same.
If James leaves Cleveland, he'll lose fans he can never get back. He will forever be the guy who ditched his long-suffering hometown to chase easier championships, money or fame. And that's a pretty good way for him to ensure that he won't get as much money or fame as he'd like.
James leaving would be unlike anything we've seen in sports
Free agency is a big ego-stroke for James right now. Everybody loves him, because everybody thinks they have a shot at him. But once he picks a team, that ends. And that's when the backlash could begin.
If James goes to Miami, he risks always being A-Rod to Dwyane Wade's Jeter. Wade, like
If James goes to Chicago, he'd surely win multiple championships: A core of James,
If you live in Sacramento or New Orleans or Iowa, who would you rather cheer for: LeBron James, who turned his back on his hometown to chase fame and titles in Chicago, or
If James goes to the Knicks or Nets, he'll face a different version of the same problem: He'll look like he sold out. James loves New York, but much of the country does not. The A-Rod comparison resonates there, too: When Rodriguez became a Yankee, he became easy to hate.
The Cavaliers have done a lousy job building around James for the past seven years. They have not acquired one credible sidekick for him -- no
But I'd have plenty of sympathy for Cleveland fans. And I suspect most of the country would, too. LeBron James would be an enemy in his hometown and viewed suspiciously everywhere else. He has been pointing to this summer for at least two years. But James should remember this about free agency: As soon as he signs a contract, he signs over a good chunk of his power. People will look at where he goes and make judgments on who he is. He should think long and hard about what he wants them to see.