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Entries in NBA (3)


LeBron James: A Sympathetic Figure?

Picture Of Lebron James

One Great Season

NBA star LeBron James was the focus of ESPN's "Outside The Lines" show Tuesday, just hours before his new team, the Miami Heat, opens its season against the squad that could very well be its top competition in the East, the Boston Celtics.

It seems like the Lebron conversation takes a new direction every few weeks since he ended his free agency by signing with Miami in July. In addition to the start of the new season, this week's angle is the new Nike commercial in which Swoosh producers seem comfortable trying something new and fairly difficult: turning Lebron into a sympathetic figure.

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NBA Free Agency: Let The Drama Begin

LeBron James

Hype For 2010 Class
Began Two Years Ago

One Great Season

My opinions are worthless on LeBron James, so I'll get right to it. Here's a collection of some of the better stories about NBA free agency today now that dollar days have finally arrived:

+ Q&A: Where Will Top Free Agents Land? --

+ Knicks' Biggest Game? Landing LeBron -- Ian O'Connor,

+ Chicago Is Ready For A New King -- Jon Greenberg,

+ Breaking Down How LeBron And The Cavaliers Got To This Point -- Brian Windhorst, The Cleveland Plain Dealer

+ Wade, Heat Will Be The Big Winners -- Israel Gutierrez, The Miami Herald

+ Bulls GM Gar Forman Must Deliver Signature Moment -- David Haugh, The Chicago Sun Times

+ Raptors Have A Bit Of Leverage -- Michael Grange, The Toronto Globe And Mail

+ NBA Free Agency Begins When LeBron James Says It Begins -- Evans Clinchy,

+ Cash Likely Keeps LeBron In Cleveland -- Peter Vecsey, The New York Post

+ Gallery: Biggest Free-Agent Signings In Sports History -- New York Daily News

+ Capsules: Sizing Up The NBA Free Agent Class -- USA Today

+ Pros, Cons Of Teams Hoping For Big Signings -- Chris Mannix,

+ Are Johnson, Stoudemire Enough For Knicks? --Bethlehem Shoals,

+ End To This Free-Agency Saga Thankfully Near -- Phil Taylor,


Dear New York: LeBron Doesn't Want You

LeBron James

King's Crown To Be Worn In Cleveland

One Great Season

Condescending New Yorkers can laugh all they want about how bad a city Cleveland is. I'm a proud Clevelander who's been living in the Big Apple for four years now, and it's been pretty entertaining watching the arrogance.

Sure, the Mistake On The Lake even sets rivers afire, but equally embarrassing are New York and its assumptions rooted in an ugly habit of self-absorption.

If this was the 1980s, certainly LeBron James would want out of Cleveland in favor of New York, probably even New Mexico.

But it hasn't been the 1980s for a long time. Tired of being the butt of late-night jokes, Cleveland turned itself around and enjoyed a prosperous 1990s. That mini-renaissance, however, began so long ago that the city has returned to being miserable again. That much I can admit.


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+ NBA DRAFT: It's A Mistake For Lance Stephenson To Turn Pro
+ LOOKING BACK: Complete NCAA Tournament Coverage

That Cleveland seems the antithesis of the destination city New York has long been is hardly the matter when we're talking about James' NBA future. Folks love to talk about how great of a city it is here -- and it is -- but why do we put so much weight on that fact? LeBron isn't a tourist; he's a pro athlete who for probably no more than 10 more years will devote eight, nine, maybe 10 months each calendar to his employer. And when he doesn't have Team USA commitments in the summer, he'll make his commercials and appearances wherever Nike and others need him. If it's in New York, a 90-minute flight on his own plane is more than manageable. Whether he's reppin' the 212 or the 216, LeBron Inc. will continue its march toward total global domination.

He already has a few dollars in the bank, and with what the Cavaliers will offer James this summer after he leads them to their first NBA championship, he'll have many millions more.

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And if you think leading a New York team to yet another championship would be a crowning achievement for King James, imagine what it would be like for him in Cleveland, perhaps more starved for a championship than any American city in the last several decades. He's Cleveland's only active hero and not even one NBA banner has been raised. The love affair will only grow stronger between James and his hometown if he carries his team to the title in June, giving an entire city's population reason to believe several more are on the way.

The funny thing is that in all the will-he-or-won't-he columns I've been reading, what gets written about the least is the actual basketball portion of the equation. Is it because New Yorkers know their city has been a basketball wasteland for more than a decade? Relocating to The City That Never Makes The NBA Playoffs might possibly raise LeBron's international profile, but how much room is there realistically left for that at this point? James' top priority for the balance of his career will be winning championships, not sightseeing. Regardless of what happens in Cleveland's postseason run that begins next week, a move to the Big Apple will no doubt set back his quest for a first or second ring.

Now, I know the Knicks have been clearing cap room for two full years under Donnie Walsh, not only to increase their ability to lure LeBron to New York but as well as a second elite player in what is expected to be the sexiest free-agent class ever. But just because a move will be possible, what makes playing -- not living, but playing -- in New York so great? On the basketball court, at least, why do locals up here assume that being a Knick is so much better than being a Cavalier?

In those same two years, Cavs' management has shown its dedication to championship basketball by acquiring Mo Williams, Shaquille O'Neal and Antawn Jamison. General Manager Danny Ferry has slowly assembled a supporting cast similar to how the Chicago Bulls began to build themselves in the late 1980s. They eventually won six titles with Michael Jordan, but not until his seventh year in 1991 did they win their first. This is James' seventh year in Cleveland.

King James is pretty close to maxing out when it comes to image, celebrity and access, three things that do not help him win basketball games. He needs more than he wants, and the only significant void left in his life, even at the young age of 25, is championships. Winning rings in New York certainly has a nice, well, ring to it, but I can't imagine it gets much better than winning in your hometown with a team that's showed its commitment to both the present and its future.

When the 2010-11 season tips off around Halloween next fall, expect LeBron James to be dressed up as a Cleveland Cavalier, ready to treat his employers to a second straight NBA championship.