It’s three days into NBA Free Agency and there simply is no bigger storyline than the question of where LeBron James is signing.
James is the premier player of the NBA and a four-time MVP. He has played in the past four NBA Finals, winning twice. Words can’t describe James’ impact on the court and how much better he makes his supporting casts.
The four-time MVP is currently seeking a max contract and it wouldn’t shock anyone if James were to sign a one or two-year deal with a max annual salary of $21.7 million with an opt-out clause after one season.
However, whenever the topic of James signing with an NBA team has come about, popular opinion has seemingly dictated that James should re-sign with the Heat. Arguments used for this opinion tend to be the same – James owes it to the Heat to come back to Miami and deliver more championships. James owes it to the Heat to re-sign and finish his career in South Beach with an NBA title. If James were to leave Miami, he would be taking the easy way out by landing on a championship favorite for the sake of chasing a ring.
That word that is always used is “owe.”
James doesn’t owe anybody or any team a single thing.
Whether it’s Charles Barkley on TNT, internet sports bloggers or media figures on ESPN, it has become popular to pick on James. James is no saint and he has made mistakes in the past – one of which was four years ago during “The Decision” incident where he created his own soap opera 30-minute TV special when he announced he was taking his talents to South Beach.
Although James isn’t perfect, it doesn’t mean what he’s doing right now isn’t the “right thing.” Maybe Barkley and other NBA talents such as Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan in the past wouldn’t jump from team-to-team to whichever destination provided them with the best chance of winning an NBA championship, but just because that is the case, it doesn’t mean that James has to abide by the same philosophy.
LeBron isn’t Jordan. LeBron is not Kobe. LeBron is not Sir Charles.
LeBron will do whatever is in the best interest for himself and his NBA career. He fulfilled his end of the contract with the Heat, delivering four Finals appearances and two NBA Championships to a team that was exiting the first round on an annual basis before he took his talents to South Beach.
Now he has the opportunity to play for whatever team he wants to play for.
LeBron shouldn’t feel any pressure to re-sign with the Heat in an effort to appease people. He played that game for too long while with the Cavaliers and it didn’t get him anywhere – eventually, everybody turned on him after he signed with the Heat. It led to LeBron developing a mean streak and finally getting over the hump of winning an NBA Finals series.
And here we are again – four years after James was last a free agent, people are leaning towards a specific popular opinion in which popular consensus is dictating that James should re-sign with the Heat because that’s what his predecessors or any NBA great would have done.
The bottom line is this: LeBron will sign wherever he wants to sign regardless of what popular opinion suggests.
The best player in the NBA doesn’t owe anybody anything – except for himself.