Lebron to New York: Why That Would Save the NBA

Jonathon HiltonContributor IMarch 7, 2008

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last four years, you've probably heard of the legend-in-the-making they call King James.

No not some famous historical king from 15th century England, but the man that is quietly becoming the best player in the NBA, quite possibly of all time.

Problem is, he plays in Cleveland.

Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Cleveland sports or their die hard fans. I respect the Indians (even though I'm Red Sox to the grave), the Browns, and occasionally I will find myself watching the Columbus Blue Jackets even though they're not in Cleveland (just because I like Hockey).

But let's call a spade a spade here; The Cavs cannot keep Lebron in Cleveland for his entire career.

He's becoming the franchise poster child for the NBA, an international icon, and after this summer in the Olympics he could go on to become the first billionaire ball player of all time.

Not bad for someone who didn't go to college.

The Cavs are a small market team with a very low team budget (which they've dumped mostly on Lebron, not surprisingly) and absolutely no appeal for other players to come and play for them.

Sure they got the rebounding and shot blocking machine Ben Wallace (34 and on bad knees), sharpshooter Wally Szczerbiak (bad ankles and hasn't played a full season since God knows when), and underrated point guard Delonte West.

They have young, yet unproven, three-point master Daniel Gibson and a bench that was good enough last season to help Lebron carry them to the Finals, but these players are not long term solutions nor names that will impress the King if he is unable to take the Cavs back to the championship game (which will be difficult to do now that the Celtics are back in town).

So where does an unhappy superstar with loads of endorsements and HOF tattooed on his head go to gain more popularity and stardom?

Why a big city market of course, and since Kobe will be in L.A. probably till the end of his career, this leaves New York as the only other legitamit place for a superstar like Lebron to flash that big smile of his.

Yes, New York right now is in shambles with Stephon Marbury making more headlines off the court than on it and Isiah Thomas driving another great team into the ground (Bird was wise to get rid of him).

But come 2010-2011, when Lebron becomes a free agent and the vultures come out of the woodwork to try and grab him, don't be surprised if New York dumps Thomas (if he's still there) and whoever else they can to bring in the MJ of our generation.

New York has the money, the elaborate stage (MSG), the celebrity appeal and the ability to make him the most popular athlete in the world.

Come that time, LJ will only be 26, not even entering the prime of this career, and on top of this celebrity will probably bring more playoff experience and leadership than anyone else on that team.

You also have to think of that big smile the Comish Stern would have on his face once he found out his "next big thing" is leaving for a bigger, better market.

The NBA right now is more popular internationally than in this country. Ratings for championship games have been tanking ever so slowly the last few seasons with this Spurs dynasty at the realm, and each season fewer and fewer old school teams (Lakers, Celtics, Knicks, Trail Blazers) have been able to get back to the glory days that once defined them.

This season could be the jumpstart to a ratings turnaround for the NBA, especially if, and I don't want to jinx it, the Celtics-Lakers are in the Finals (Ahhhh what a series that would be), but Lebron in New York would bring the fans back and signal in a new era of Knicks love in the Big Apple.

In today's culture of money over loyality, Lebron will probably make the wise decision to leave for greener pastures once his painful tenure in Cleveland is over.

I am not a pessimist per say, more of like a realist that understands the power of the almighty dollar, and so does his majesty. D-Wade, take notes.


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