Like many of us from time to time, LeBron James must decide where he is going to work next. This has created a smattering of interest. ESPN, for instance, has created a Web page called the “LeBron Tracker,” which includes a countdown-to-free-agency clock; when it hits zero, I assume LeBron will drop out of the sky onto Times Square.
Actually, best I can tell from reading the New York papers, LeBron is going to sign with the Knicks and the Nets.
Here is a rundown of the most likely places LeBron will land:
Cleveland Cavaliers: LeBron has reached the proverbial fork in the road. If he follows the same route to The Q, they’ll name the highway after him. But if he takes the interstate out of town, he’d better take all his belongings because nobody’s letting him come back home.
I guess it says something about our culture that, if LeBron leaves Cleveland, the town will go into a 20-year depression. (If he leaves Cleveland for New York, you can add a zero to that.) I’m not good at professional advice, but I’ll offer LeBron this: Stay the course at home and keep bringing sunshine to a city clouded with doubts. You don’t want to become Art Modell, do you?
Los Angeles Clippers: If Nike ran the NBA, LeBron James would join Kobe Bryant for a Tinseltown marketing bonanza! Can you imagine LeBron and Kobe in the same arena? That would be like Gypsy Rose Lee and Blaze Starr working the same pole. But there are problems. First of all, traffic is so bad in L.A., Kobe commutes to Staples Center by helicopter. (For real.) Second of all, the team is owned by Donald Sterling, who also owns apartment buildings; frankly, his properties – including the Clippers – all look like they could use a fresh coat of paint.
New York Knicks: Really, outside of New York, who wants to see LeBron end up in New York? It remains a great city and a grating sports town. And for all its greatness, the Big Apple has no vacancies – all the best addresses are gone. You think LeBron’s going to live in a fifth-floor walkup with no doorman? Not to mention, with or without LeBron, the Knicks stink. I can smell the stench from here and I’m 2,400 miles away. There’s virtually no difference between the team’s current roster and the line of people at Radio Shack waiting to buy phone chargers.
New Jersey Nets: Who wouldn’t want to work for a Russian billionaire and Beyonce’s husband? And supposedly the Nets are moving to sexy Brooklyn in 2012, though that arena might not get built until 2512. Until then, the team will play in Newark, which, stunningly, is the Nets’ ace in the hole. Newark – on the uptick – is now Paris on the Turnpike. Newark’s close to the Atlantic Ocean (a top-five ocean); it’s home to Port Newark, one of the world’s top shipping ports, and, most importantly, it’s no more than a 10-minute helicopter ride into Manhattan.
Miami Heat: OK, Dwyane Wade’s a great player and a good phone pal, but if he and LeBron are on the same team, the NBA would have to change its end-of-game rules to allow the Heat to inbound two balls into play. And let me ask you this – considering that Florida has no state income tax and mild weather, why doesn’t everybody live there? Exactly. Heck, more people live in Albuquerque than in Miami. Besides, Albuquerque is just as sunny as the Sunshine State, so if I’m LeBron, I’d just move to New Mexico and demand the NBA bring a team to me.
Chicago Bulls: Upside: Cosmopolitan big city, good roster in place, blessing of President Obama, unmatched deep-dish pizza. Downside: Wind off Lake Michigan in the winter, shadow of Michael Jordan, Jay Mariotti. Plus, Lou Malnati’s – one of the deep-dish specialists – overnights pizzas in dry ice to just about anywhere in the U.S., so you don’t even have to live in town to enjoy the awesome food.
West Ham United F.C.: This would be the gutsy move for LeBron – head to England and the Premier League for a team that has never won a Premier League title. In fact, the city of West Ham, I believe, has not seen a title for any of its pro sports franchises in 46 years. The team is without a manager, so LeBron could bring in his own guy. Granted, he’s never played soccer, but, then again, David Beckham’s a big deal and I don’t think he ever plays soccer, either.
Ask The Slouch
Q. The St. Louis Cardinals have the worst offense in baseball. How come Mark McGwire hasn’t been able to teach them how to hit? (Francis Cox; Houston)
A. I don’t think you can teach hitting – it’s one part instincts, two parts human growth hormones.
Q. Is it fair or accurate to compare a workout on a recumbent bicycle to what you do for a living? (John Swope; Irwin, Pa.)
A. Actually, I often go days without moving my lower body.
Q. Will we ever see you as a participant on “High Stakes Poker”? (Ben Semiatin; Wheaton, Md.)
A. If they ever lower the stakes, sure.
Q. Why can’t Jay-Z just move to Cleveland? (Ken Elinsky; Cleveland)
A. Pay the man, Shirley.