Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Why can't royalty live in Ohio?

I suppose I should get this out of the way before I go on: I am from just outside of Cleveland, and am an unabashed defender of the region. I can also see all our warts, which are plentiful, yet find plenty of beauty within. Having said that, I ask you this: why can't LeBron James stay and be happy in Cleveland?

For that past few months...years actually, locals have been bombarded with reports on the departure of James after this season. I mean, after all, why in the world would he stay here? Ignore the fact he's from the area, built a mansion nearby, has a team that has bent over backwards to make him happy, including building a 30 million dollar practice facility closer to his home, and very, very far away from where the rest of the team lives, could run for mayor and/or governor and win in a landslide, is the biggest sports icon the city has ever seen, already is a global entity, etc., etc., etc.

Well, New York is New York. Los Angeles and Miami offer better weather and visibility. Chicago is a great sports town. Yes, all this is true, but I ask you this: would he really, really have a better chance of winning anywhere else? If D-Wade stays in Miami and they pair up, perhaps. But have you seen the Knicks and Nets? The Mount could give them a run. The Bulls front office can't seem to get anything right of late.

If it's really about winning, which James says it is, he'll never leave. The Cavaliers are 24-8 at the time of this writing. They've won nine of ten, and have the third-best record in the league. They're 11-3 against the West, and recently throttled the Lakers in L.A. They reached the Finals in '06, had the league's best record and advanced to the Eastern Finals last year. Their salary cap situation becomes pretty favorable after this season to not only pay James max money, but allow them to go get another player to add to the roster.

Believe it or not, James actually likes the area. His family and longtime friends are all there. He's already a worldwide icon, and has more money than he and 15 generations will be able to spend. He's winning where he's at. He's comfortable. The media and fans give him his space.

Does this mean he'll stay? Of course not. But if winning is the determining factor in his decision, I wouldn't be so quick to look for a "For Sale" sign outside his mansion anytime soon.

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