If Lebron James’ primary goal was to win a championship, he made the most shrewd and practical (even it was the most painfully predictable and dull) decision by joining the Miami Heat. In hindsight, the Heat was always the path of least resistance for the big three free agents of James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. Bosh clearly wanted out of Toronto. James wasn’t entirely committed to Cleveland. Wade was the only player who made it blatantly clear his preference was to stay in Miami and would openly recruit others to join him there. Pat Riley and Wade were the only players with championship hardware to bolster as well.
Yet despite the solid logic, I find James’ decision to be quite baffling. I’m surprised that James and his “team” didn’t foresee that it was the one choice where he has the least to gain and the most to lose.
1. Had he bolted for New York, you could say he was “ambitious.” Had he opted for Chicago, you could say he was “honorable” to the history and legacy of his idol, Michael Jordan. Had he stayed in Cleveland, he would most definitely label him “loyal.” In each of these choices, there would have been some backlash, but there’s also a measure of respectability to be had with each one.
Miami was the one choice where his stock immediately drops because of its lack of imagination and ambition. It was immediately being ripped as the “easy way out” and “cowardly” for turning his back on his hometown and greater risk/reward challenges in Chicago and New York. Thanks to his over-hyped “decision,” which he laughable claims he had no control over, he’s now reviled by just about everywhere, but Miami.
2. Even if he does win multiple championships and ignites a dynasty in Miami, everyone would devalue it by saying it was expected of such a monumentally stacked lineup of talent. You could point to the success of the Boston trio of Garnett/Pierce/Allen as a model to follow, but all of those players had never won a championship prior and all were at the end of their primes; no where near the mega statures of Lebron and Wade.
3. In regards to future of Lebron’s personal brand, how can he ever call himself the “King” where Wade already holds court? Who wants to root for guy who stacks the deck in his own favor? I think many of us watch sports because it appeals to our sense of awe, competition and adventure. Lebron’s “decision” lacked all of these things.
I was never a big fan of Lebron to begin with and as a diehard NY Knicks fan, I was initially disappointed that Lebron didn’t choose my team, but the more I thought about this entire free agency circus, I did learn two things. 1) The “Decision” said a lot about who Lebron is as a person. I’m not impressed and he’s not someone I want representin’ my team and 2) Winning isn’t everything. How you win can be just as important.
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