Why LeBron James Will Remain With the HEAT for the Rest of his Career
By: Matt Blue
There is absolutely nothing that can knock “the King” off his throne as the best player in the entire world. This is exactly the reason why speculation has been rampant regarding “the King’s future. The question that has circulated throughout the basketball hemisphere, is whether he will stay with an organization that he has led to two straight championships? Or will he look himself in the proverbial mirror and decide that it’s time to make a change?
Now, if you are looking for LeBron to put the rumors of his potential departure to rest, don’t hold your breath. James is going to take the time he needs to evaluate the situation in Miami. Also, he is going to most likely enjoy a cup of coffee with a couple of franchises that have the cap room to make a run for his services. He is going to do his due diligence which he should. There is a reason why he has an opt out clause in his contract for 2014. LeBron wanted to be able to re-evaluate his situation and come to terms with where he is at this stage of his career.
This is how free agency works. You can’t expect a player to make a decision immediately regarding his future. (At the same time, you don’t want a player taking forever.) There is just so much on the line for a superstar player such as LeBron. At the end of the day, you know beyond a reasonable doubt that you are going to end up disappointing someone. It happens and it’s a part of life.
However, the one key difference between the LeBron of 2010 and the LeBron of today is maturity. He is not the same flamboyantly brash character he was in 2010. He has evolved into a different person based on all of the relentless criticism he has had to deal with. His public image and reputation took a huge hit after the way he handled himself in free agency that year.
Life experiences will change a person’s character. LeBron has become a stronger person and he has gained a significant amount of emotional intelligence. LeBron had to go through what he went through in order to become the person he is today.
So you better believe he will take the time to make his decision in a more appropriate manner. Likewise, he will be more considerate of the feelings of every party involved in his pursuit.
But there are just so many reasons why remaining with the HEAT will be extremely tempting for him. For one, there is just as much uncertainty in other situations for LeBron as there is for the HEAT. Teams such as the Lakers and the Cavaliers could make pretty strong sales pitches. However, they may not have enough talent intact to lure the likes of LeBron.
The bottom-line is LeBron wants to win as many titles as he possibly can. James would love to chase down Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan. At the end of his career, he wants to be regarded as one of the very best players to ever play the game. I’m talking top five, if not in the top three all time. LeBron has a tremendous appreciation for the history of the game he loves playing. His admiration for Bill Russell, Kareem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and other Hall of Famers is immense.
The cold hard truth is that we evaluate an individual player’s greatness based on the number of rings he has. Maybe it shouldn’t be this way but it just is. This is the cruelty of professional sports and in the day and age we live in.
So therefore, Miami gives LeBron the best chance to win more titles. LeBron believes in Pat Riley’s ability to continue to upgrade the roster and recruit the right complimentary supporting cast. Besides, Riley has a very successful track record as the President of Basketball Operations for Miami. He was the architect who put this all together.
As far as the future of the Big Three is concerned, there is a very good chance that Miami will be able to keep them intact despite the salary cap and luxury tax implications involved. Don’t get me wrong, it’s going to be very challenging for Miami to do it but it can be done.
The biggest deterrent is what the new collective bargaining agreement calls a repeater tax. Teams will have to shell out the money for the repeater tax beginning in the 2014-2015 season. This means that this punitive tax will apply to those teams that were over the luxury tax threshold during the 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons. The HEAT will fall into this category.
But here’s the thing. Micky Arison has proven to be an owner that will spend whatever is necessary in order to put a winning product on the floor every night. Riley also understands LeBron’s overall value on the open market and he knows that you get what you pay for. In other words, the Big Three are worth more together than they cost. So as long as Miami is willing to make the commitment financially, the Big Three will remain together.
Now let’s be completely honest with ourselves. Do you really see LeBron returning to a city that burned his jersey? Can you envision him going back to a franchise that had seven years to put together a championship caliber team around him and failed to do so? Do you see him playing for an owner who wrote a vindictive email tearing apart LeBron’s character and never apologizing for it? I certainly don’t.
As for LeBron possibly playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, it just doesn’t quite make a lot of sense. Other than the fact that he would be playing for a big market celebrity driven city that has a passionate fan base, why would he want to take his talents to the city of angels? The entire organization is currently in a state of chaos and dysfunction. And are the Lakers really going to offer LeBron a more talented squad than the HEAT’s? That is very hard to imagine.
As iconic of a franchise as the Lakers have been for a long period of time, they just don’t really have the recruiting tools and elements to convince LeBron to bolt Miami.
Here is another thing that will factor into LeBron’s ultimate decision: He loves playing with his best friends, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. After all, he has won two championships with them in three years.
LeBron James came here to be a part of a dynasty. He took his talents to south beach in order to cement his legacy and establish himself as a true winner. He became weary of coming up short in the playoffs and carrying a borderline d league team in Cleveland every year. So he saw a great opportunity that presented itself in Miami and he went for it.
So why leave a great thing that’s in place? Why leave an organization that has shown they are committed to you? The HEAT has helped LeBron become a better person and a better basketball player. What other franchise could do that for him?
When it’s all said and done, LeBron James will retire as a member of the Miami HEAT. He is just too embedded in the HEAT’s culture and family.