Thursday, November 27, 2008

You can't really hate on LeBron for planning on leaving Cleveland...

unless you're a Cleveland-area resident or a Cavs fan. I do feel a little bit bad for them because the smart money is that he'll leave for New York in a couple of years.

However, looking at this objectively, I think that most people's perspectives are out of whack when they cite reasons for LeBron staying in Cleveland or leaving. They cite a franchise's ability to win multiple championships. They cite LeBron's marketing advantages of living in NYC vs. Cleveland vs. any other NBA city. And this past week, everybody seems to be arguing back on forth on these points. But they're misguided.

Whatever team LeBron signs with in 2010 will definitely field a competitive, championship-contending team - whether that's Cleveland, New York, LA, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Whoever signs LeBron will cater to him and build an excellent team around him. He could sign with Oklahoma City, and they'll do everything in their power (trade players, open up payroll, etc.) to compete for the championship. So a franchise's ability to win championships is a moot point.

It's probably true that marketing will be, at the very least, better for LeBron if he were to sign with the Knicks. But knowing how much of a global star he is already and how much he continues to grow in that area, the difference will probably be so negligible that it really doesn't matter if he's in New York versus Cleveland. With the amount of money that he's making and will continue to make, a few million dollars is chump change. People/companies with money who want to market him will come to Lebron wherever he is. So I doubt LeBron would choose New York because of better marketing, business opportunities, etc.

So why do I think he's going to leave Cleveland for probably New York? The same reason the population of NYC continues to grow at a much more rapid pace than other (stagnant or declining) northern and midwestern cities. The City of New York itself is the star that attracts celebrities and non-celebrities alike. I know so many people who strive to live in New York, even if it's temporary and even if career-wise and investment-wise (like owning a house/condo) it's much more pragmatic to not live in New York. I live in the city of Chicago, and I love it here and have no intention of moving anywhere...but even in a great city like Chicago (which besides the winter weather, kicks LA's ass), there's a huge inferiority complex amongst many Chicagoans only when it comes to New York. That's because deep down, people know that New York's king, and the magnetism of New York makes more people want to live there than competing cities like LA, Chicago, and San Francisco.

I think LeBron just wants to live in New York City rather than any other place. I think he'd rather play at Madison Square Garden 41 times a year than any other arena. I think he wants to play in front of New York celebrities and friends. Even if the Knicks never existed and there's an expansion franchise in NYC, it would be the front runner to sign LeBron. This's why I predict he'll sign with the Knicks. He's not unlike many, many people who more than anything want to experience living in New York.