This cannot be happening again. The pomp, flair and overzealousness of LeBron James’ first “decision” is still sending shockwaves throughout the NBA landscape, and yet, in a year’s time, we may be facing yet another “Summer of the King”. This league, unlike any other of the big four North American sports, has its power dispersed far more among the players on the court than its’ owners in the press box. LeBron, specifically, has utilized his tremendous skill and marketability to a significant degree, with a vice-like control over his team’s on court performance and front office decision making. A player like LeBron relocating doesn’t just improve his team’s performance; it changes the course of the NBA for as long as he stays put in his new home. The Heat and Cavaliers, two teams which could be characterized as middling at best in their pre (and post) LeBron eras, are perfect examples of what a James inclusion can do for the fortunes of their roster. And the subsequent misfortunes of those when the King leaves.
Rumors are circulating that following this season, LeBron will officially reopen his recruitment to the rest of the NBA. Teams like the Lakers, Clippers, and Heat may preach a complete focus on merely the upcoming season, but the thought of perfecting their pitch to the King must be creeping into the forefront of their respective imaginations. LeBron under the bright lights of LA or maybe returning to South Beach? These storylines could very well drive the NBA season more so than the actual play on the court, especially in an era where the game has become ever so predictable in its finish.
LeBron changing teams would send shockwaves throughout the league in a way that is unparalleled in any major sport on Earth, and this isn’t hyperbole. Take Tom Brady and put him on the Bills, for example, and they may be a good team, but the entire league doesn’t entirely shift. The Patriots would still have Bill Belichick and the Bills would still need about 328 more good players to support Brady. Do the same thing in hockey and move Connor McDavid to the Avalanche, and you might have an exciting team, but certainly not an immediate championship contender in the same way that LeBron’s inclusion on a roster almost guarantees a legitimate championship favorite.
LeBron steers the ship, choosing the course of the NBA moving forward. The first decision created arguably the greatest villain in the history of sports, and the second gave us its most prominent homecoming. After delivering on the championship promise that he made to the city that birthed him, his current situation does beg the question: what more does LeBron have to do for Cleveland? In my opinion, it’s only a matter of time before the Decision 3.0, when the artist known as the King repaints the NBA picture in his image, however he sees fit.