Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Does LeBron wants wins or dollars?

I'm trying not to discuss the LeBron James situation that much because if I do, I'd be joining the circus, which I have frequently termed idiotic and way over the top.

But I couldn't let this article pass without giving my opinion about the topic.

New York Daily News writer Frank Isola blogged about LeBron and the New York Knicks yesterday morning, writing the following:
"With LeBron there is no way of knowing. I really believe he cares less about winning and more about his money and his image. This is why the Knicks have a legitimate chance of signing him. The Knicks don't have much to offer James when it comes to basketball. The best thing the club has going for it is New York City and Madison Square Garden."

Two things came to mind after reading that statement.

1) I don't 100 percent disagree.

LeBron has always left himself with "options" each time has has talked about new contracts. When he signed the three-year deal that expired after the season, he chose only to sign for three seasons to give himself options this summer. I would think he will try to work out something similar come July.

But what exactly are those "options" he speaks of?

I'm going with money and attention.

When that three-year deal was inked, LeBron knew he would become an unrestricted free agent after the 2009-10 season. At that time, he also knew he could sign a new contract worth more money after the 2009-10 season. The $60 million deal he signed included a player option for the 2010-11 season, but James opted out of it. Had the Cavs won a title in the past three seasons, that may have changed, but only because titles will be good for his image and garner him further attention.

Had LeBron signed a five-year deal in 2007, there would still be a media circus following 2011-2012 season, but not like the circus of this season. The reason? No Dwayne Wade. No Amare Stoudamire. No Chris Bosh. No Joe Johnson. Etc. I'm sure there would be stars, but probably not of the highest caliber like there are this season.

This is why I agree with with Mr. Isola's blog post. LeBron has played with passion on the court, but he's played with the Presidents off the court, signing several lucrative endorsement deals and associating himself with many high profile individuals. A missing key to Isola's argument, however, is that winning championships helps LeBron's image and marketability. So, money should not be the only thing LeBron is concerned with. Although, I do believe money has been driving his career thus far.

2) Why is New York a better fit if money and image is the object?

LeBron pretty much has everything he could ever want in Cleveland. Stars around him. An owner who will spend money to give him what he wants/needs to be a success. Endorsement deals with the biggest companies out there. National media attention with every highlight dunk, 40-plus point performance, trick shot and colorful quote. A home-grown fan base that followed him from Akron to Cleveland.

Most importantly, the Cavs can offer James more money than any other team this offseason. When combined with the fact that LeBron already has a lucrative off-the-court life in Cleveland, what good does to going to New York do besides offering him a couple futile years before contending.

AP image via ESPN

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