This is a question that has intrigued sports writers and analysts for the past several years, and has haunted Cleveland Cavaliers fans since the opening tipoff of the season six months ago.
Yes, Cleveland can offer LeBron the money that other teams cannot, but what they can no longer offer him is an opportunity to establish and define his legacy.
LeBron James is not in competition with guys like Dwayne Wade and Carmelo Anthony. Instead, he is in competition with the legacies of guys like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson. At the end of his career, the measure of LeBron’s success will not be WHAT he accomplished, but instead HOW his accomplishments match up against those of the other ‘greats’ that have played the game.
And as it stands today, his accomplishments do not hold a candle to the greats.
Simply winning a championship or two will not be enough to earn him consideration among the ranks of Jordan and Magic, either. What LeBron must do is to first establish himself as the premier player in the game today, and that can only be done by going THROUGH one person – Kobe Bryant.
Over the course of his career, Bryant has already won four rings, while LeBron has none for himself. So how can LeBron be considered one of the greatest players of all time if he is struggling even to establish himself as the greatest player TODAY?
For the last seven years, we have been left only to speculate who is better between Kobe Bryant and LeBron James, and with four rings, Kobe clearly holds the edge. And unfortunately for LeBron, there has been a lack of any DIRECT comparison between the two, because they have met on the hardwood as opponents only twice each season. As long as that trend continues, LeBron will NEVER catch Kobe.
In order for LeBron to start chipping away at that gap, he must get on the court and actually play AGAINST Kobe more than just twice each year. That is the only way that LeBron can begin to establish himself as a better player than Kobe.
Enter the Los Angeles Clippers.
By signing with the Clippers, LeBron James would be able to share the SPOTLIGHT with Kobe Bryant without having to share SHOTS and PLAYING TIME, and a rivalry that already exists on paper would literally EXPLODE on the court and across the city of Los Angeles.
What was once a town owned by Kobe would be transformed into a battleground that regularly pitted the games two best players today against each other on a shared home court, creating an epic rivalry that would help define the legacies of BOTH players.
Additionally, the Clippers possess enough talent (and cap room) on their team that LeBron could easily turn them into perennial playoff contenders (something he has already proven he can do in Cleveland). With guys like Blake Griffin and Eric Gordon, as well as an upcoming top-ten draft pick, there is a lot of potential in Los Angeles’ OTHER team to give the LeBron a solid supporting cast for MANY years to come. When you add to that youth the established talent of players like Baron Davis and Chris Kaman (who is fresh off of his first All Star appearance), the Clippers + LeBron James could very quickly find themselves in a position to give the Lakers a real run for their money.
Living in L.A. would also help LeBron pursue his other interest, being a big-time celebrity. It sure will be easier to make movies if you don’t have to commute back and forth from Cleveland during filming!
If LeBron wants to be remembered as the greatest player of all time, he must first prove that he is the greatest player today. The only way he can accomplish that feat is by proving it on the court against Kobe Bryant. Since it seems unlikely that will ever happen as long as LeBron calls himself a Cavalier, he should follow the lead of Billy Joel’s old friend who used to be real close – Close your shop, sell your house, and buy a ticket to the west coast! Everyone wants to see your routine in L.A.!