Eighteen hours into free agency, the NBA’s worst kept secret is confirmed. Lebron James, following in his son Bronnie’s footsteps, has chosen to take his talents to the west coast. As a longtime member of the Lebron James fan club, this move could not make me happier.
Lebron James deserves a far better supporting cast than the one he was stuck with throughout the 2017-2018 season. Unlike 2010, Lebron James is not leaving Cleveland for a true super team. Los Angeles boasts a roster of potential studs. Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram fill out a talented, but still developing roster that has toiled in mediocrity as they have waited for a true superstar. In his pervious two free agency signings, Lebron James built a team of established superstars that had been the featured players on their respective teams. In Miami, he joined forces with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, two all-stars in their late twenties at the time. In Cleveland Part II, he built a crew highlighted by two of the best scoring threats in the NBA in Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. However, next season, he will be banking on potential. Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma combined two great rookie campaigns with a capable coach in Luke Walton to make Los Angeles a destination. Enough buzz to convince the most coveted free agent since 2014 Lebron James to join a team that missed the playoffs last year.
Because of the Laker’s youth, Lebron will be spared at least some of the same criticism he received when he joined the Miami Heat. The next three, possibly four, years will be crucial to his legacy. Two years ago, in an interview with Sports Illustrated, LeBron James admitted that he was not immune to the Jordan Vs. Lebron debates that inundate our televisions every summer. He said, “My motivation is this ghost I’m chasing, The one that played in Chicago.” Though this is old news, this still provides us with a great amount of context for his decision. It’s no secret that the best player of our generation wants to be the best player ever. However, the direct comparison to Michael Jordan gives merit to many of the comparisons that his critics make. Though he played on arguably the best team ever, Michael Jordan never left to build a super team. The super team was built around him. Lebron has routinely been unfairly criticized for not carrying teams to finals victories the “same way Jordan did”. As arbitrary as that criticism is, it is amongst Lebron’s biggest knocks. In his quest to be seen as better than Michael Jordan, Lebron has joined a team good enough to win but unproven enough to avoid super team criticism.
As the second Lebron James to commit to playing basketball in Los Angeles, the father of three will hunt for championships while his son for scholarships. Having vocalized his desire to play with/against his son one day, Lebron is clearly very involved in his son’s basketball career. The man who has often referred to himself as “Just a kid from Akron” wants to give his son the best opportunity to gain exposure and elevate his game—as any parent would. California is among the world’s biggest hot beds for basketball being home to some of the country’s best high school and AAU teams.
As he has evolved from a basketball player into a multi-dimensional public figure, Lebron needed a market that could be home to all of his ventures. As a social activist, actor, philanthropist, businessman, and athlete, the rightful 2017-2018 MVP is poised to elevate his game and his entire lifestyle to a level we can only marvel at.
Oh and by the way, Boogie Cousins signed with the warriors for the NBA equivalent of a Chili’s gift card. Strap in folks.