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LeBron's choices: It seems like Miami now, but in this drama things change

Jul 8, 2010, 9:02 AM EDT

Thumbnail image for James_numberone.pngWe don’t know. We won’t really know until some time between 9 and 9:15 pm Eastern tonight.

What we have now is drama. Manufactured drama. And that makes every rumor suspect — if you were trying to create drama for a show like this, you’d leak different things to different people. You’d keep everybody guessing, wondering if it was Colonel Mustard with the candlestick or Professor Plum with the revolver. Miami or New York or Cleveland.

And so it is, a shifting sands of favorites. We don’t know and don’t trust much of what we hear anymore. We’ll be here tonight, live-blogging the end of act one of LeBron James NBA career and wondering what comes with act two. And if the setting changes. But we don’t really know.

Here is where things stand early Thursday morning.

The Miami Heat are your front-runners, and things seem to be solidifying for South Beach. Multiple reports have LeBron leaning strongly toward joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami to form the best three-man unit on a team since Magic/Kareem/Worthy (or maybe Bird/McHale/Parish). To do this, they would each have to take about $1 million less a year, but they could do that and say it’s all about winning. Miami would be an interesting basketball experiment — three superstars surrounded by the underwhelming Michael Beasley and nine minimum salary guys (all Miami could then afford). Can that team really win a title?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are everybody’s number two. It’s his hometown, where his worshiped as one of their own, something no other elite athlete really has. And if has a one-hour national television show to rip out the collective heart of a city, that could have a public relations backlash. (Really, no matter what he chooses there will be a backlash, this is a hard public relations sell after tonight.) The Cavaliers had the best record in the East two years running and have most of that roster back, but can LeBron and new coach Byron Scott get them over the playoff hump?

The New York Knicks are another team whose name you keep hearing in rumors. If LeBron’s ego is such that he doesn’t want to just win but needs to do so in a spectacular fashion, to create a true legacy, New York is the place. This would be good for the league. The Knicks have a top power forward in Amare Stoudemire and a system with Mike D’Antoni that would have unstoppable force that is LeBron driving the lane getting the ball in more open court situations. He could put up incredible numbers, and keep an army of tabloid gossip columnists employed.

The Chicago Bulls have bought their way back into the LeBron sweepstakes by landing Carlos Boozer. Combined with Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah and LeBron, that team is an instant contender. It would be by far the best supporting cast James has ever had around him. It makes a lot of on-the-court basketball sense. But Chicago has never seemed the preferred destination by LeBron — there was a reason that Chicago went hard after Dwyane Wade, they felt LeBron was not coming there early on. But if it really was just about basketball and winning…

The New Jersey Nets and the pitch made by Russian billionaire owner Mikhail Prokhorov impressed James, by all accounts. And this is a franchise that will be moving to Brooklyn in a couple years. But that’s the problem — it’s in a couple years. Everything about the Nets says “in a couple years.” They have a good young core that needs to develop. LeBron is not likely to wait for that.

The Los Angeles Clippers… we have to mention them. They met with him. This is a big market team that is right there with Chicago in having the best on-the-court unit to put around LeBron — Baron Davis, Chris Kaman, Blake Griffin, and rookie Al-Farouq Aminu. But would you trust the peak of your career to owner Donald T. Sterling?

That’s it. That’s where we stand. Right now. But check back in an hour or two for when the leader changes. Because if you’re going to create real drama, you need to have multiple viable contenders.

152 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. axionjax - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:02 PM

    This just in…it’s official! LeBron James has just confirmed that he will sign a 5-year deal and sign with Team Edward over Team Jacob!

  2. pjmjfan - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I dont think I take this forum too seriously, but being hypocrites are the worst. People chastize this guy for something that all previous players have done, sure a 1 hour show hasnt been done, but most of that is gonna be interviews I’m sure…much like press conferences that all Superstars have when a big decision like this comes up. MJ had them, Kobe had them…and since when do we applaud someone like KG for finally leaving Minnesota after 10 years to finally get a ring with Boston, but get pissed at Lebron for doing it 3 years earlier? My point is, people call this guy an ego trip and selfish, but I think he’s being pretty savvy about this.

  3. Shiz - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I heard he is going to Utah

  4. Phil Cook - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    I hear what you are saying about Shaq. But notice that Shaq never comes up when people are discussing MJ and who the greatest is. I know that’s partially because of the position difference, but I think the reason that MJ has the legacy that he has is because he came into a bad franchise, rejuvenated it and made it the best. Granted he added talent; Pippen, Rodman, etc to support him but they didn’t for a “super team”. Jordan needed 2 words to set the NBA on it’s ear “I’m Back” he didn’t need to have 5 teams court him, he was back and he was a Bull. Only when the front office forced Jordan out did he leave to play in Washington. For that alone I hope the Bulls never win another championship. In fact F*ck Chicago, Miami, NY, and LeBron (if he leaves us)-go Charlotte-best owner in the league.

  5. dclakerfan - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:10 PM

    sounds like caps/laker hater..sorry didn’t mean to insult you…HEY LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU THE FRENCH FRY MACHINE IS ON FIRE!!!!

  6. Anonymous - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    LeBron should go to the Bulls. Rose, Boozer, & Noah would all be willing to play the Pippen role for James. And he could still win lot’s of championships with the Bulls

  7. Ray Phil - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:16 PM

    I think it is interesting that White Americans, loathe the idea of professional black athletes getting paid well, as the NBA is considered a ” black ” hip hop league. Yet other professional sports that are more integrated you don’t hear the same criticism. No one says that Tom Brady should not be making this money to help people in the country who are suffering. All I am saying is be critical across the board. And white people, why do you dislike black people so much? WHat did we do? Its sick in this country!!

  8. BBallGirl - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:21 PM

    Ken – I don’t think you could have said it any better. Lebron hasn’t made a big deal out of this situation. The media has. And once the media gets it grubby hands on anything – the world in turn makes it a huge deal. I believe Lebron is a smart business man. Whether he goes with a team that he makes more money or with a team where he may have to share the spotlight along with a lower salary – this is totally his choice. I am certaiin he is making the best decision for himself in the hopes of winning a coveted championship ring. If I were Lebron, I’d be pretty mad that Cleveland got clsoe 2 years in a row but didn’t make it to the final 2. If he is willing to take “supporting role” status with Miami or be the leader at either Chicago or NY, it’s up to him. Yes, I do think he is a bit arrogant as a player, but overall he IS a Great Player/Star Player. He has been put on a pedestal by sports analyst among others. He deserves the attention. However, I hope in the future he learns better sportsmanship qualities.

  9. jp - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:26 PM

    ———–where his worshiped as one of their own ————
    Am I the only one who thinks that articles should be proof read or at the very least make sense in English?

  10. Solo - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:27 PM

    As a life long Clevelander and ex-LBJ fan (my kid has his jersey and fathead which I bought him)… I am ready for him to leave. He tanked for whatever reason in the Celtic series and all that has followed has made me sick. I am saddened to think what could have been but can’t help feel that what is now is nothing like it used to be.

  11. JohnK - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:31 PM

    It will be the HEAT. Once Wade and Bosh agreed to salaries, LeBron
    set up the 1 hour special with ESPN.
    I think and hope that this is just a smoke screen. I hope he goes to Dallas and plays with Dirk (who just restructured his salary)and for owner Mark Cuban. LeBron also loves the Dallas Cowboys. Look what Kevin Durrant is doing in a small market like Oklahoma City. You can be successful in cities outside of LA,NY,etc.
    It makes sense. Everything is BIGGER in Texas. Yes, it might take 15 seconds for him to announce his decision in another city, but here in Dallas, we do things bigger. A 1 Hour Press Conference and ESPN Special to announce that he is coming to Dallas makes sense to me.
    Besides, Texas has no State Income Tax, so compare his salary to here in Dallas to other cities, and he would be making more.

  12. Joe - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:40 PM

    Ken, I salute you…you seem to get more replies than any other. But the fact remains that you obviously hate Kobe and the Lakers and are bitter that they are the champs AGAIN. It’s also pathetic for you to use a common defense strategy in the league called “flopping” as an excuse as to why the Lakers won the championship for a second straight year. I didn’t admit Gasol or Fisher are floppers, well maybe Fisher, but you you fail to admit LeHype is a media wh-re. Remember on the first night of the NBA finals he held a hour long interview with Larry King on CNN? Good timing. Also his handlers have been spreading rumors just to hype tonights charade. MJ and Kobe held news conferences of course; but an hour long special? Please…this is too much for basketball purists like me.

  13. BBallGirl - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:44 PM

    @ axionjax – LOLOLOLOLOLOLOL! Love the comic relief.

  14. Somerset - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:50 PM

    Me neither.

  15. my balls - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    I like pizza.

  16. uofmcasey - Jul 8, 2010 at 3:57 PM

    For the love of god – will it ever end? Please read the following excerpt written by a well-known, national sports writer in my area – I couldn’t have said it better if I tried:
    The final cherry on this ego sundae is the televised event tonight, an hour-long ESPN special at 9 o’clock (an hour?) in which James will announce who wins the right to wrap its money around his arrogance.
    Only in America could we keep inventing reality TV that fantastically outshames the previous low mark. A prime-time event? To announce a free-agent signing? And don’t point out that some proceeds go to charity. You want to give to charity, quietly write a check. Don’t get a network to do it for you so it gets to pump its shows and you get to shower yourself in international coverage — while calling it philanthropy.
    The NBA has embarrassed itself here. The media have embarrassed themselves. And a guy who calls himself “King” may be beyond embarrassment, which is truly embarrassing.
    Here’s a question: What if not a single story had been reported about LeBron since the day he crapped out of the playoffs? And tonight he released a one-sentence statement on which team he’d chosen? How would things be any different?
    They wouldn’t. Which proves what a colossal waste of time this whole affair has been.

  17. john - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:01 PM

    i believe lebron will make a decision for three teams, miami, new york, and cleveland. why not he’s a king right.
    john

  18. dclakerfan - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:12 PM

    couldn’t say it any better. this writer should get an award just on this article alone!!! hats offto you mystery writer.

  19. bibi - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    honestly who the hell are you ppl talking smack about lbj coming to miami here he will be with his best friend and dream team partner D.WADE. he will enjoy playing here in the sunshine state where he will be sorounded of beautiful water. so if you guys wanna talk about miami bunch of hypocrates cause all of you come here for spring breaks or summer or memorial weekend to enjoy our beautiful city.. so screw all you haters watever his decision is we will still watch him cause he is the best player ever since m.j.
    so if he wants to do a special on espn about his choice let it be he could do it dont hate cause you cant sad ass ppl really just being negative str8 up im glad he did dis cause he has busted his ass to be where he is at today dont hate cause you cant….

  20. bibi - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:27 PM

    lebron james is ggoing to do whatever is best for him he is going to choose whatever will bring him a championship as our great michael jordan had a great team with him and got him rings. lebron has the same talents and he is agreat guy he does alot for the community so here in miami we will greet him with open arms now brink kobe arrogant ass over here and hell no never will we accept him never so lebron if your choice is miami all i got to say is WELCOME TO MIAMI……

  21. Ken - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:40 PM

    Thanks Bballgirl – - great point, his decision, we hype it up, so we can’t blame him for the hype. To Joe – believe it or not, I actually like Kobe…he is a great player, its players like Gasol and Fisher that ruin the game for me the same way Lakers loved Vlade when he played for them, but when he started doing the same flopping in Sacramento, they hated him. And I never said the Lakers won because they flopped, I just said I don’t like floppers like Gasol and Fish. And the point here is, it doesn’t matter if you like Lebron or not, but you can’t claim him as this media whore because…he hasn’t had one interview or been on live tv for 2 weeks now. Arrogant, maybe, but you nor I know this guy for real so what are we really basing that on? And then you say his “handlers” spread rumors …seriously? im guessing you dont know any of his “handlers” and you are just getting that info off other sites like this, all here say. Lebron is in a “damn if you do, damn if you dont” situation…but like Bballgirl says…he’s going to make a choice based off of the good of himself and his family…that’s what all of us would do!

  22. w - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:44 PM

    who’s lebron?

  23. SilkCityP - Jul 8, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    I’ve lost so much respect for LeBron during this process… while on 1 hand it’s good for the league, he is becoming a media whore by mounting this whole thing up… And from a basketball standpoint I think if he goes to Miami, I will lose even more respect for him, b/c if he does this… he can no longer be called “King James”… That team is D Wade’s team, and if LeBron goes there, it’s still going to be D Wade’s team!!! If you are trying to be the best player, you run your own ship, you don’t join somebody’s else’s where they have established their own presence. I also don’t like the idea of him going to Miami b/c it will just create even more separation in conferences and the league like it has been for the last 10 years. The NBA needs more competitive basketball like there was in the 80′s and especially the 90′s… We need several in each conference that have a realistic chance of getting to the finals. And we need big market cities doing well… NY, Chicago, need to be competitive and in the mix

  24. pjmjfan - Jul 8, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    uhhh….hate to break it to you, but the 90′s weren’t competitive from an entire NBA perspective. Bulls 90-91, 91-92, and 92-93. Rockets 93-94 and 94-95. Bulls again 95-96, 96-97, 97-98. Spurs 98-99.

  25. Anonymous - Jul 8, 2010 at 6:20 PM

    You are soooooooooooooooooooooo right. I live in Akron and this stuff is everywhere. I never hear about the guys who save lives and give so much of themselves. This is nothing more than a big show about nothing. The only life that will change is LeBron. My life and everyone else will go on as before.

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