The last time that I ripped Stephen A. Smith for one of his NBA free agency predictions, I was much younger and considerably more reckless and he turned out to be right, because I completely ignored the fact that he was on Worldwide Wes’ speed dial. That prediction, of course, was that LeBron James and Chris Bosh would join Dwyane Wade in Miami as the Heat’s now infamous Big 3.
Now, though, Screamin’ A. has put down the Cheetos long enough to give the Magic 8-Ball another shake, and he believes that the Self-Proclaimed King will opt out of his contract with the Heat before the 2014-15 season to join the New York Knicks. You can call it far-fetched or just another attention grab by one of ESPN’s attention-starved “embrace debate” shouters, but having been shamed by SAS in the past, I’m going to buy it.
Okay, two thoughts about this:
1) LeBron James is a walking, talking, dunking brand and, like any brand, he needs to have a short-term and long-term strategy going at all times. So I would understand from the business standpoint that he’s looking at what’s next, because he has an incredibly valuable image to preserve both in his NBA career, and also everything beyond it. However, it’s totally not cool to his devoted and obnoxious Heat bro fans that he or his people might be leaking such information.
Now, if it’s true that Wade and Pat Riley are heavily considering retirement after the NBA Championship that they’ll win in the 2013-14, thanks to another MVP performance by James, then it’s totally fine that he’s weighing his choices beyond rebuilding. He doesn’t owe anything to the Heat or its fans after what he’s done in three seasons, but he should still hit the shut-off valve on these stupid rumors in order to stop those fans from burning their Heat jerseys and pre-ordering his Knicks gear.
2) I can’t believe I’ve never thought about this before, but one of the best ways that James can sway the Michael Jordan debate in his favor – aside from simply allowing ESPN to continue giving him handies under the table – would be to next go to the Knicks and help them win a championship (it would be worth it to see Carmelo Anthony’s ego crushed) and then back to Cleveland to fulfill the destiny he originally created for himself with the Cavaliers. And maybe, just for poops and LOLs, he could spend a season with the Chicago Bulls and win another title there.
LeBron James: Hired Championship Gun would possibly be the coolest NBA legacy a guy in this modern me-first era could create. Plus, it would probably kill Skip Bayless.