On the eve of impending free agency

The irony of LeBron finding employment elsewhere:  One reminder that’s been brought to the forefront of the national media over the last six weeks, tag-lined with every speculatory tale of a possible LeBron James departure from Northeast Ohio, is that of our local economy, and how it’s been…well… struggling some over the last decade plus.  And amidst the mass exodus of job opportunities that has people fleeing the region to find more money, and better paying employment opportunities elsewhere, I can’t help but find one thing ironic in this whole LeBron James mess.  That being, if LeBron James – maybe the most marketable employment prospect we’ve had graduate from a local high school here in the last 30 years – does leave, he will leave for less money than he could have made here, in Northeast Ohio.

Not just less money by a few bucks either…$30 million less on a max deal elsewhere, and even up to $38 million as Brian Windhorst mentioned with respect to the possible rumored scenario in Miami.  And I’m saying ‘Northeast Ohio’, as opposed to ‘Cleveland,’ because if he does leave Cleveland, he’s also leaving Akron too.  I hope he knows that.  Because I know he’s tried to create this great divide between Akron and Cleveland, but as far as the economy goes, there’s people that live in Akron and work in Cleveland, and people that live in Cleveland and work in Akron…shocking, I know.

My free agency prediction:  I was on Glenn Moore’s show yesterday and when Glenn asked me this question, I gave this same prediction: I think he stays.  We then talked about timing, and Glenn said he thought the decision would come quick.  When he first said that, I agreed, and do agree, however after thinking about it more I agree the decision will be quick – only – if he chooses to leave.  Quick and painless.  Well, you know what I mean.  However, if he stays – which I think he will – he’s going to have to drag this thing out for a while longer.  I mean, how bad would that look nationally – though we wouldn’t mind – if he did just after all this turn around and sign with Cleveland right away.  Odds are he stays, at least according to an email I got today from Matt at the SBR forum where they have the Cavs as the favorites at 1 to 2 odds of signing LeBron, with the Bulls at 3 to 1 (as of earlier Wednesday).  But it’s really probably anyone’s guess within a collection of reports that are merely everyone’s attempt for attention.  The only thing that’s gonna matter is what he does do, whenever he does it. 


But make no mistake, this decision will decide who LeBron James really is.  Is he a guy that needs help to win a title?  Is a team that wins 60+ games a season with an owner that’s willing to spend anything really not enough help for the two-time MVP of the NBA?  Jordan won with Pippen, sure, but let’s not forget that he also won with Bill Wennington, Will Perdue, Craig Hodges, BJ Armstrong, John Paxson, and whoever else you want to name.  There’s no way it could be about winning if he leaves, and no way – if he leaves – he could truly be viewed in history as a winner.  You finish what you started, where you started it, if in fact you want to be called the Chosen One.  Because to be someone that represents a notion like that, that would mean your place and time chooses you…unless you want to ink ‘the one who chooses’ across your back instead.  But at the end of the day, I still believe LeBron James is the same guy we saw come up.  The same guy he was before, and always has been deep down.  I think he’s a winner.  I think he’s loyal.  I think he stays.  Yet I’m still as nervous as I’ve ever been as a Cavs fan as we wait to see who’s right.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.