Let’s talk LeBron James for a minute.
I know that at this juncture in the conversation the horse has been beaten, shot, skinned, dissected and had its hide made into a fine pair of shoes. Those shoes are now on my feet, so I now feel somehow justified to resurrect this topic and shed some light on the matter.
Let’s state the facts. LeBron James signed with the Miami Heat, joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Everyone and their grandmother have an opinion on the matter. Should he have stayed in Cleveland? Should he have gone to Chicago? Is he taking the easy route teaming up with his buddies? It’s all debatable at this point and really depends on your personal perspective.
The better question that we need to be asking ourselves is, what does LeBron’s decision mean for the rest of the league? Things that have been surfacing in the news this week will tell you a lot.
According to sources on ESPN.com, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets is requesting a trade, specifically to the New York Knicks, Orlando Magic or Los Angeles Lakers. Paul said back on June 23rd that he would prefer to stay in New Orleans, but now he wants to go play with another superstar.
What swayed Paul’s decision? It probably had a lot to do with the fact that New Orleans did next to nothing in the free agent signing period to bring more talent to the team. However, LeBron’s decision to leave the team built around him most certainly also had an effect on Paul.
After seeing one of the game’s best players join forces with two other All-Star caliber players, I’m sure these two things crossed the mind of Chris Paul: 1) There is no way I am going to win a ring with this team, and 2) if LeBron doesn’t have to be the man on his team, why should I stick it out here?
If I were Paul, I would get discouraged if one of the elite players in the league gives up on a team that tried to build around him. If it didn’t work for LeBron, why would it work for me? Other players in the league are going to start asking themselves the same question — and soon enough things will start to change.
Something unique in the NBA is how their superstar equity is spread across the board. On any given night in any given NBA city you could see a star light up the scoreboard. Even the smaller market teams like Sacramento have a player like Tyreke Evans that can put people in the seats.
After the formation of this super Miami squad, look for NBA to lose this spread of quality players as they all try and join forces to make a bigger and stronger team. Don’t believe me? Just look at the future landscape of the NBA.
LeBron James and Chris Bosh both left small market teams (Cleveland and Toronto) that have nothing but a supporting cast similar to that of The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift. If this Chris Paul trade goes through, the Hornets will also be without a star. That makes three teams that went from contenders to future lottery pick teams very quickly — and that’s just the beginning.
Next summer Carmello Anthony will hit the market and the rumor is he could team up with Amare Stoudemire in New York. Deron Williams has been very vocal in expressing his thoughts on staying with the Jazz — if they don’t make a big splash or a litany of spectacular small moves, then he could request a trade next summer. Some other big names that could leave for greener pastures are Tony Parker and Yao Ming.
Before we know it, the big time sports cities with be able to lure two or three big names and compete for titles while everyone else with their one big name will get thrashed. By setting the standard with this triple threat, Miami basically challenged other teams to match what they have because it seems so absurd that any other team could do it. Trust me, the big power franchises will rise and do all they can to top the Heat.
Most of this is pure speculation. It could turn out that Chris Paul decides to stick it out with the Hornets and so will the rest of the league’s superstars with their respective small market franchises. However, as of now, there is ample reason to believe there will be a lot more tag-teaming in the NBA’s future — and a lot less flying solo.
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