Oh, to be LeBron James must be a wonderful thing.
OK, so the guy just lost again in the NBA Finals. Said he broke his hand punching something in frustration. Had to watch his buddy J.R. Smith ignore a game-winning shot attempt from five feet away and dribble 40 feet away from the basket which forced Game One to go into overtime, where the Cavs lost the first of four straight to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals.
Still, most people would take it.
Not to mention all the choices he has and how he wants to end his career on his terms.
The 15-year veteran can opt out of his contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers, a contract that was for three years and $100 million. Not a bad gig if you can get it.
He has another decision to make, and once again, it is all about winning.
The first time he left Cleveland for Miami, it was about playing with his buddies and winning championships. He got two with the Heat.
Back to Cleveland for a few years of his “I’m sorry” tour, where he brought his home town an NBA title.
But now in his twilight years, he wants more jewelry. He has three championships, but has lost six times in the NBA Finals.
When people compare James to Michael Jordan, that is the main argument. Jordan 6-for-6, James 3-for-9.
Times have changed in the NBA. Players are making “stupid” money. Players averaging just a few buckets a game are bringing in seven digits a year. For someone like James, who is now the seventh all-time leading scorer in NBA history, the money is ridiculous.
His net worth is estimated at $400 million. So he is not motivated by greed anymore. When you have “throw away” money at your disposal, winning is the main motivation. Kevin Durant did it two years ago when he left Oklahoma City for Golden State. He now has a ring for each pinkie finger.
James was set for life right after he graduated. Nike gave him $90 million for an endorsement deal right out of high school. In 2015, he signed a lifetime deal with Nike which could eventually be worth $1 billion. He has ownership in several businesses, does ads for Nike, Beats by Dre, Coca-Cola, Intel, Kia and Verizon. He also has about $30 million waiting on him if he decides to stay in Cleveland.
Some say he will. Some say he won’t. But he isn’t going to win a championship in Cleveland next year.
So where could he go? The most obvious choice is Houston with James Harden and Chris Paul.
He has a house in Los Angeles, and could decide to go to the Lakers and play with Lonzo Ball and possibly Paul George. But again, that isn’t a championship guarantee.
He could go to Philadelphia, an up-and-coming team. He could go to San Antonio and play for one of the best coaches ever in Gregg Popovich. Even Boston is in the conversation, but reuniting with Kyrie Irving...well...that’s a touchy dynamic.
Where ever he decides to go, the NBA will have gotten even more one-sided.
Parity doesn’t exist in the NBA anymore.
As long as money can’t lure great players to lesser teams, the future of the NBA will be in a few Super Teams.
And whichever team James is on, is a Super Team.
Heaven help us all if he goes to the Warriors.