So much has been made about whether or not LeBron James, reigning NBA MVP and arguably the best player in the NBA, will re-sign with the Cleveland Cavaliers. One day, we hear how much he loves Cleveland; the next day, we hear that playing in Madison Square Garden on a regular basis would be a dream come true. It’s been back and forth for a few years now and we’re finally approaching the final year of his contract, and everything he says and does now will be even more scrutinized than before. But I think that all the hoopla about his leaving is just that - hoopla. When it’s all said and done, I think the reasons he should stay in Cleveland far outweigh any reasons he would go. And to go with this belief, I have put together a list of five reasons why LeBron James will remain a Cleveland Cavalier for a long time.
1. He’s on a proven winner - This is one of the facts people seem to gloss over. Why would LeBron, who constantly says that winning is his biggest priority, want to go to another team when he’s had so much success in Cleveland? Any team that would have the cap room to sign him would be rebuilding, and would he really want to spend his prime hoping to match the success he had in Cleveland? Unlikely. In Cleveland, he’s been to two conference finals, one NBA finals, led his team to 66 wins, and won MVP. Moreover, this team has been built around him and his talents and they’ve shown countless times that they are dedicated to winning. If he were to leave for New York or another big market team, he would be hoping that they would be able to build a winner around him, but that isn’t guaranteed and would be a huge gamble. Furthermore, the salary cap is expected to be so low next season, the teams with the most money would only be able to afford to bring in one maximum contract, which makes building a winner around LeBron even harder.
2. No other NBA can offer him a larger contract - The Cavs can offer him more money and add an extra year to a contract. To take another offer would greatly decrease his basketball earnings.
3. The belief that he can earn more in a larger market is a myth - This could be the biggest bit of information that “supports” the belief that LeBron is leaving. But it’s simply not true. Let’s look at this realistically: LeBron is arguably the most recognizable basketball player in the world and is already one of the most marketable athletes today. How much more can he make? What major company would pass on him as a Cavalier but jump on his bandwagon if he was in a Knicks jersey? Absolutely no one. He can’t get much more famous and he would still be one of the biggest names in sports even if he played for the Utah Jazz. Moving to a market like New York would benefit a player knocking on the door of superstardom, like Chris Bosh, but not for a player that’s already established himself as a superstar. And the purported clause in his Nike contract about receiving more if he plays in New York has already been proven to be false.
4. It would be better for his legacy - It would be great to suit up for a team with a great history, like the Knicks or Lakers, but you would be remembered with all the other greats of that team. No matter how great the careers of Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal have been, they will always be compared to Magic Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Jerry West (who’s the player on the NBA emblem) and others. But look at Michael Jordan and his legacy: he will by synonymous with the Chicago Bulls for a very long time. They even have a statue of him. And it’s safe to say that Kobe won’t get a statue in L.A. LeBron has already resurrected a dying franchise and broken many of the major individual records there. If he wins a championship there, his legacy will grow exponentially and will only improve his star power. Kobe may end up being the greatest player of his generation, but he probably won’t even be considered the greatest player to play for the Lakers.
5. He loves Ohio - Loyalty is something LeBron values. That’s why he’s constantly bragging about his hometown of Akron and why he’s surrounded himself with people he trusts who have known him since childhood. He may love New York and may love playing there, but “home” and “family” are two words that mean a great deal to him. And Cleveland is home. He grew up in the area - Akron is only about 39 miles away - and he’s already a legend. So many athletes dream of helping their hometown teams, and LeBron is currently living that dream.
At the end of the day, the only person that knows whether or not Lebron James will stay or go is LeBron James. And whatever decision he makes, I’m sure that he thought it through completely. But when looking at all of the evidence at hand, it’s hard to believe that he would take such a risk and leave a team that’s on the verge of winning a championship now.
At least, I really hope so.