As usual, LeBron James is sparking tendencies amongst his peers, the same way he did with the early opt-out clause that gave the Miami Heat the opportunity to sign he, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade as unrestricted free agents in 2010. Then he started a new one following the two-year deal he signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Not only did it feature a one-year opt out, but it set things up for a lucrative personal and professional career.
The flexibility to leave Cleveland after a season allows him to, figuratively, float his foot over the organization’s neck. In other words, management will be under pressure to keep their star happy by making all the right moves to stay in championship contention. It also allows him to re-up his contract in time for the new , and presumably lucrative national television deal coming in 2016.
However, the largest James trend that seems to interest players and fans is the possibility of superstars looking to return to their hometown teams. It started with Carmelo Anthony following the Chosen One’s lead with what seemed like a heartfelt letter about what playing–and staying–in his birthplace meant to him.
Almost immediately after, the world began to wonder if Kevin Durant was feeling the same way about suiting up for his PG County neighbors, the Washington Wizards.
It’s hard to say what Durant will do when his free agency is still two seasons away, but fans in Oklahoma City had to be taken aback when he spoke on the possibilities during USA Basketball training camp:
“I grew up watching the Bullets/Wizards. I grew up taking the train to that arena, all the time, to watch Georgetown, the Bullets, the Washington Mystics. That whole city is a part of me. It’s in my blood. I love going back home, seeing my family and playing there, but I love Oklahoma City too.” (ESPN)
Durant heading to a big city was a fear for many once Jay Z’s Roc Nation Sports took hold of his management. Everyone expected to hear something more like Brooklyn or New York though. That is until James’ latest decision put teams in danger of being abandoned like Miami. So franchises like the Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans should watch out for James mentees Anthony Davis and Paul George returning to Chicago and Los Angeles.
And if it happens just do like everyone else, and blame King James.