LeBron James may be one of the most unselfish athletes in the NBA on and off the court. James has the option to opt in for the remainder of his contract that will pay him $42.7 million over the next two seasons. As of now, it is unknown if James will return to South Beach or if he will go to another team. Regardless where he goes, he will likely take less money.
As the great Metta World Peace stated, max contracts equal no trips to the NBA Finals. The Miami Heat have several holes on their roster, and if James decides to come back they will have to fill those spots to add youth and depth. James wants his minutes reduced, and there is no way that can happen if the Heat keep the same roster.
At times winning can bring stubbornness, and it may have been a blessing in disguise that the Heat lost in this year’s NBA Finals. If the Heat would have won the title they could have had the mindset that they’ve won three titles with this type of roster, so if it isn’t broken there is no need to fix it.
That method of playing James until the wheels fall off can shorten his career even though he is a machine. As seen in the NBA Finals, James was worn out in certain stretches because he has to do too much. Has there ever been a star forced to guard 1-5 positions at times, be the team’s playmaker, best scorer, best rebounder and defender? I am guessing the answer is no.
Losing creates an uneasy feeling, so the feel of change is mentioned more often. Changes are needed, and that could make James sway his decision to return to the Heat. If James stays the Heat need to add a few more quality players to help ease the burden on No. 6.
NBA money shouldn’t be an issue for James, because he is a someone who can make up for lost playing wages in endorsements, and he is still young enough to get a Michael Jordan like end of career pay package. Jordan made a small salary amount for most of his career with the Chicago Bulls, but in the later years he made more than $30 million in the his last two seasons.
James has proven that he is all about winning, and he will do anything to win championships. To some players in the NBA, money is the motivation, but for James it is about his legacy and winning championships.
It may seem crazy for the best player in the world not to be the highest paid player in the NBA, but if the goal is winning championships then a reduced salary should not be in question. The San Antonio Spurs‘ Big Three are all playing for less than what they are worth, and that was initiated by Tim Duncan. Like Duncan, James is driven by winning, so wherever he goes he should take less money.
James has the ball in his court and holds a lot of leverage in free agency. If James continues his unselfish ways he will be back on a platform that will allow him to compete for championships, but if he doesn’t he will be all by himself all over again (thanks Celine Dion).