Friday, May 14, 2010

What should Lebron do?

Last night, as I listened to the commentators of the Celtics-Cavs game give relentless speculation about Lebron’s post-season activities I began to develop my own theories. Lebron brought the game back to within four points in the middle of the fourth quarter with two back-to-back 3s, but the Cavs failed to capitalize on that momentum and went down. As Bill Simmons said this morning, “Mike Brown and the rest of the team gave up in the last minute. They were done and they wanted to get off the court.” The Cavs lost in 6 and now we will see who was right.

In my view, the question of what Lebron will do really comes down to his values. If he needs the validation that he is a great player by having the largest contract in the league, then he will seek the team that offers him the most dollar signs. And I think that this is what the people who propose that he will go to the Knicks or Nets are really counting on. They are making an assumption that Lebron will follow the money trail. I think this is flawed for multiple reasons: 1.) he knows he is the best player in the league by winning back-to-back MVP trophies, 2.) he already has more money than anyone but Mike Tyson could spend through his endorsements, and 3.) I hold a different assumption. I assume, perhaps incorrectly, that he values what he does on the court more than the stuff that he gets off the court for his work. I bet that when you're at the summit of your profession, especially for a sizable length of time, and there is no one around you then you start to measure yourself in historical terms. Lebron doesn't want to be like Karl Malone or Charles Barkley. It's not enough to win solo trophies year after year. After all, if you are chasing the greatest ever: MJ is remembered for his six NBA TEAM championships, not for his five MVP titles.

So if Lebron values his basketball legacy the most then he should take a pay cut in order for his team to have the best chance to build quality players around him a la Tom Brady. If the best player in the league did this early enough into the post-post-season, it would send a signal to the best free agent pool ever that he was serious about building talent around him in order to make the championship run. I mean think about it: as ESPN reports: Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amare Stoudemire, Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Tyson Chandler, Richard Jefferson, Joe Johnson, Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Dirk Nowitzki and Michael Redd can all become free agents in 2010. With the right mix of star power a real dream team could be born in the league, not just a collection of star-power for international competition. If Lebron has advisors with his best interests at heart I think he will probably come to a similar conclusion.