Friday, May 14, 2010

Much Ado About Nothing: LeBron James Should Stay in Cleveland

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Another season in the NBA, another year LeBron James won’t win the NBA Championship.

After the Cleveland Cavaliers were put away in six games in the Conference semi-finals by the Boston Celtics, James is now home for the summer and will only be able to watch the NBA Finals.

What’s different this offseason is that instead of priority number one for Cleveland being to build a competent team around James they will have to worry about keeping James in Cleveland in the most anticipated offseason in NBA history.

There will be a lot of rumors, a lot of speculation, a lot of media attention, and, most likely, a lot of silence from James himself. The question: what should James do?

The answer should be fairly simple. James should stay in Cleveland. It really is the best situation for him.

Firstly, the Cavaliers are James’ hometown team. He is from Akron, Ohio. He has his family and his friends all in place. They can come to all of his home games. Having a great support system in place is very advantageous.

New York Knicks fans would argue that sure, it’s nice to be playing in front of your hometown fans, but you can always go home during the offseason and after you retire.

So money is the next deciding factor, and no one can give James a better contract offer than Cleveland.

The current collective bargaining agreement gives the player’s current team the best chance to keep their players, allowing them to re-sign their own free agents to a longer deal, for more money, and even if it puts them over the salary cap.

Cleveland’s maximum contract offer to James would be for six years and a total of $125.5 million. That’s for one extra season and $30 million more than any other team can offer. That’s a lot of money and a lot of stability.

Many have said that James would make more playing in a bigger market, a la New York. But can James really be any more famous than he already is?

The Cavaliers are frequently featured in nationally-televised games on ESPN, ABC, and TNT. James has a huge Nike billboard outside of Madison Square Garden. Also, with the Internet and 24-hour sports channels, being in a big market isn’t as necessary for money and fame as it used to be. James will still be the most popular player in the NBA next season no matter who he was playing for.

Let’s not forget he plans on changing his jersey number next season so he should be atop the jersey sales because of the new look.

James says the most important thing to him is winning. Does any other team give him a better chance at winning the championship than Cleveland?

For years, the Cavaliers’ front office has been working to build a team around James. This year Cleveland had the best record in the NBA during the regular season. While people are questioning the group of players around “The King” now after losing in the playoffs again, remember all year how the majority of people fawned at the depth the Cavaliers had and how the addition of Antawn Jamison “assured” them of finally winning the championship.

Where else could LeBron go that would give him a better chance at winning the championship?

The Lakers, Magic, Nuggets, Spurs, and Celtics would all be hands-on favorites to win the championship by adding James, but none of those teams have the money to add him.

Even if he and Dwayne Wade went to New York, or James went to Miami to partner with Wade those teams would still have a worse supporting cast than what James has in Cleveland.

Chicago is intriguing and they would have a nice starting lineup, but would they be deep enough?

For his own sake, James should stay in Cleveland. The situation provides him with the best combinations of support systems, money, and wins.

All the attention and speculation could very well be much ado about nothing.

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