Cleveland once again faces another off-season sooner than it had hoped for. This one however, holds much more turmoil than the rest. Hometown hero, LeBron James, has a huge decision to make for not only himself, but for the city of Cleveland as well.
The media wants to build the hype, promote rumors, and draw the attention of the fans. They feast on the fears of the Cleveland sports world, and the hopes of basketball fans in New York, Chicago, Miami, and Los Angeles. These are some of the largest markets in the country and by hyping the rumors the networks fill their coffers once again.
Promises are made to be broken, and the rest of the NBA cannot offer The King anything Cleveland cannot. Today’s society is part of a global economy, small markets like Cleveland, Oklahoma City, and Seattle are not as isolated as they were thirty years ago. LeBron will still retain his sponsors if he stays in Cleveland. He will still make millions and he will do it in front of his hometown, something the rest of the league cannot offer him.
LeBron can ask any team, including Cleveland for whatever he wants and he will probably get it. He can almost pick and choose a NBA All-Star team of his choosing during free agency this season, and most of the teams courting him have the cap room to sign his selections. He can name the coach, including John Calipari and it will probably be delivered.
The conditions are such where just about any team he chooses will be a good decision.
And why wouldn’t it be? He will make millions either way. He is young enough now at 25 and still in his prime that he can give Cleveland another shot before giving up on one of his dreams.
Since being drafted by Cleveland he spoke of bringing a championship to a city deprived of one since 1964. Economic troubles also hindered the area known as the “Tire Belt” of northeastern Ohio since this last championship. His family, friends and fans from the beginning are in the city he calls home. He is a god in this area, and he relishes in the constant spotlight. This is and always will be home for LeBron James.
The first thing you see when driving into Cleveland is a building-size banner with LeBron’s image and the saying “We Are All Witnesses”. The city lives and dies with his success and failure, and he knows this. Not many NBA superstars care enough about their hometowns to have their MVP ceremony in their high school’s gym. He is The King of the town, something he cannot say in any of the other cities clamoring for his services
In New York he will be one of many, just like in LA. In Chicago he will forever live in the shadow of Michal Jordan’s accomplishments, something he will never outrun. If he chooses Miami he will deal with a city that really could care less about professional sports outside of the Dolphins, and the attendance proves that.
The Knicks and Clippers have been awful, and will need to be rebuilt from the ground up once LeBron arrives. Is he really ready to start over and go back to struggling just to make it into the playoffs? Doubtful. The Cavs need to work on the roster, but it is nowhere near what many of the other teams will have to do to get them to where the Cavs are currently.
James has agreed to almost every acquisition over the last seven years, so blame is not solely on the front office. It falls on his head as well. He more than likely will not have this type of control with another team, making it difficult to give up.
The Cavs owner, Dan Gilbert, knows if LeBron leaves so does around 100 million dollars. The Cavs franchise will be devastated and will crawl back into the gutter along with the Browns and Indians. For Gilbert this is just another high-stake gamble that he hopes will pay off.
July first will open the LeBron sweepstakes, but do not bet on much action out of the Akron native this summer. He has everything he wants and needs at his finger tips right now in Cleveland. Giving that up for promises and more fame is something that while alluring, just will not be enough to drag him away from the hometown crowd.