LeBron’s Free Agency: Legacy vs. Loyalty

After coming within 3 points of outscoring Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry combined, LeBron James is showing everyone that even in year 15, he’s undoubtably the best player in the world. And with free agency around the corner, NBA fans worldwide are excited for LeBron to become a free agent. Why?

There’s a good chance this is his last season in Cleveland.

It seems like LeBron James has a good amount of time left in the NBA before he’ll need to retire. But, if he signs with a new team, it could be his last big NBA contract (unless he has opt-outs in it).

Since returning to Cleveland for the 2014-15 season, LeBron’s been the workhorse for the Cavaliers. In his first season back, LeBron took the star-studded Golden State Warriors to 6 games without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. The next season, LeBron and the Cavs rallied from a 3-1 deficit to dethrone the Warriors and bring the Cavs their first NBA Championship. After another finals appearance last year, James’ Cavs are rolling into the Eastern Conference Finals are sweeping the #1 seeded Toronto Raptors.

The more the Cavaliers win just expose their team even more. Every win that LeBron drops 40+ points in a pure LeBron performance, it’s becoming evident that LeBron doesn’t have help. And besides a top 10 pick in this year’s draft, there’s no future in Cleveland.

Why would LeBron stay?

Loyalty.

On the summer night when LeBron James took his talents to South Beach, Cleveland fans were angered. They burned jerseys, criticized him immensely, and waved goodbye in a rather impolite way. I’m sure LeBron saw that, and it probably hurt him a little.

LeBron needs to win more titles, and the way he’s playing right now, I’m hesitant to say this, but the clock starts to tick in the mid 30’s. Guys who were stars in the 2004 draft like¬†Dwyane Wade and Carmelo Anthony to name a few¬†that are washed up these days. Wade saves his performance for the playoffs and Anthony doesn’t have it anymore. So while LeBron is still playing the best ball of his career, who knows how long that will last.

LeBron James has all of the personal accomplishments to be considered the greatest of all-time. The MVP’s (not counting the one’s that he deserves to win every year but doesn’t), the All-NBA 1st teams, the All-Star selections, and even the NBA Finals appearences. But the one category where he needs to be close or match Jordan to make it clear who the best player of all time is? Championships. Rings. And with Houston and GSW emerging, LeBron can’t do it by himself. He has to choose between legacy or loyalty.

He can stay in Cleveland and finish his career there. It will probably end up how it was this season, where CLE has a dissapointing team and he carries them as long as possible. Or, he can leave to chase championships before his career ends. Philadelphia, LAL, and Houston would all give him opportunities to do so. You might think that Philly and the Lakers couldn’t give him a ring, but look what he’s doing with the worst roster left in the playoffs. Besides LeBron and an inconsistent Kevin Love, who do they have? A supporting cast of Ingram/Ball or Simmons/Embiid would be more than OK. He’s LeBron James.

He can stay in Cleveland and be their hero until he retires, or he can leave to improve his legacy and chase Jordan’s championships.

 

 

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