Wednesday, July 7, 2010

All Eyes On Him

As the above picture states, "We Are All Witnesses". Witnesses to to the largest collection of unverified, speculated media HOOP-la of all time. On July 1, 2010, LeBron "King" James became an unrestricted free agent, dosing the already James-happy media with tons of kerosene, leading to a weeks worth of front page rumors. First, it was that super-free agents LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh had sat down together for a "summit", agreeing in principal that they wanted to play together, most likely for the Miami Heat. But that rumor was quickly shot to bed when betting odds came out with James landing in Chicago at -500 odds. Since then it has flip-flopped from a 2nd meeting with the Knicks, to re-signing in Cleveland with an option to leave early, parlayed with the possibility of a Chris Bosh sign and trade to the Cavs.

However as the fourth of July came and went, so have some the other free agents that were previously available for James to team up with. The first one to bite was Joe Johnson, who signed a 6 year, 119 million dollar extension with the Atlanta Hawks. I like this move for Johnson, and frankly who wouldn't. Anytime you can get over paid by 40 million dollars, plus keep the same nucleus of young talent together from a playoff team, you've got to sign, right? Second was forward Amar'e Stoudemire, who signed a five year max contract with the New York Knicks on Monday, giving New York fans something to cheer about for the first time since the Isiah firing. Despite questions about Stoudemire's defense, injury prone knee, and lack of rebounding numbers, he brings something to the Garden that is far more important. Star power. Not since Patrick Ewing in the mid-90's have the Knicks had an All-NBA player of this caliber to market, and shine for them. Additionally, this signing shows a commitment for improvement, and will undoubtedly be one of the determining factors of whether or not LeBron comes to New York.
Which leads us to today's "breaking" news that Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade, have agreed to team up together for the Miami Heat. And really who didn't see this one coming? Anyone who follows them on Twitter saw there bromantic posts & picture of them out to dinner to "discuss" free agency all weekend. With those two players making there decisions already, that leaves all the spot lights on one man. LeBron James.
When you put everything into perspective, this really is the perfect way for it all to end. Sure, Wade is a bonafide Super Star, finals MVP, and annoying T-Mobil spokesmen; but this is the summer of LeBron, and people have been talking about it for 3 years now. As much as anyone wants to claim they thought Wade was close to signing with Chicago, I never bought into it, or foresaw any scenario where he would leave the team he helped win a title with.
When it comes down to it, LeBron James is the most in-demand, exciting, and marketable player in the league. Maybe he's not the best. It's hard to argue against Kobe Bryant and his consecutive finals MVP's, but no one means more to the NBA than James. And not one person who plays in any sport, means more to a state than James does to Ohio. Born, raised, and worshiped by everyone since his high school days, Ohio is the only castle the King has ever known. Which is undoubtedly the reason why this decision has been so agonizing for him, because its so close to home. So for the first time, I, a writer, will not make a prediction, or assumption on where he will play next year. Because when it comes down to it, there isn't a writer in the world that knows what a man is feeling when he's being torn between what he knows and his lust for the great unknown. So for now, as always, it's all eyes on him. It's showtime LeBron, and the balls in your court. I just hope that court ends up being Madison Square Garden...