The Miami Heat Playing As A Team Debate… There’s No “I” in Team, But There is in Win

January 27, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Loyal Homer.

Newsflash, America – the Miami Heat are not comprised of team players!

Did that shocking news revelation really just blow your mind… because it shouldn’t have. We all knew LeBron James and Dwyane Wade were never going to end the season first and second in the league in assists, but apparently there is a bit of an uproar that the Heat should be more “team-y.”

Criticism of Miami’s recent four game losing streak prompted Dwyane Wade to make comments defending his team’s unique strategy of letting star players loose to do their thing. Wade elaborates that the Heat are, “not [one of] these kinds of teams that need to play together.” And he is absolutely right! The Heat were designed to be a team of hired guns who keep the ball in the talented hands of their playmakers, then sit back and watch as LeBron, Wade, and Bosh do the rest. Why are people surprised when Wade makes a comment like this stating the obvious?

Playing to their Strengths

The Miami Heat currently sit atop the Southeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the NBA with a 31-13 record for a reason – they win games. The Heat have a core of explosive playmakers on offense that, when hot, are virtually unbeatable. Putting the ball in the hands of James, Wade, and Bosh has propelled them to success thus far throughout the season, so why abandon that game plan at the first sign of struggles? Letting James and Wade play their preferred type of game is simply playing to their strengths.

Asking the Heat to change their game to be more team oriented is like asking the Yankees to abandon an affinity for the longball in favor of National League style small ball. Obviously the team aspect of small ball works for some clubs, but the Yankees simply aren’t built with that type of game in mind. Ignoring this fact in favor of a more team friendly approach would be placing an arbitrary handicap on the Yankees. Just as no one would expect Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez to quit swinging for the fences at the first sign of a minor slump, no one should expect LeBron and Dwyane Wade to move the ball around at the first sign of struggle.

Rewarding Experience

Although it doesn’t sit well with those big on “team play,” letting LeBron and D-Wade hog the ball is a viable and effective offensive strategy. It was this same individual focused rewards strategy that turned around the Heat’s season after struggling out of the gate. Coach Erik Spolestra decided that when his players made big stops on defense they would have liberal doses of freedom on offense. This motivation technique, although controversial, yielded results. It helped the Heat to set franchise records as they won eight straight by double digit margins. This in turn helped them pull ahead of the Magic and take the top spot in the division.

Critics of this rewards system will point to the fact that the Heat still trail teams like Boston, and claim that it is a flawed strategy. It should be considered that the Heat have been playing in the only Eastern Conference division with two other teams with records above .500 (Atlanta 29-16 and Orlando 29-16) and are still winning. Similarly, they have a far superior road record (15-8) than other division leaders like Boston (12-7) and Chicago (10-10). The system works, despite all the naysayers who second guessed the players’ ability to coexist. The Heat’s 96-82 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats saw both James and Wade put up 30 plus point games, proving not only that they can coexist but dominate as well.

Harping on the fact that basketball is a team sport is, in this case, arbitrary rhetoric. True there are five men on the court wearing the same jersey, but each shot is taken by an individual. In Miami those individuals seem to be at their best while playing their own game. Dumping that strategy now would be foolish.

It’s a long season, and the Heat are a new team still working out the kinks. We have yet to see how the players will function in the post-season, but if its anything like the regular season has been thus far, the league should be prepared to handle an explosive offense with a unique style that is hard to handle.

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The Miami Heat Playing As A Team Debate… No I in Team

January 27, 2011

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

The topic of today’s debate the part of sports that I really don’t believe in. Unless I am playing golf, tennis, or any other individual sport, I don’t believe in individuality in athletics. I never have. I had that instilled in me by my little league coaches when I was a scrawny little dork playing in sweltering South Georgia heat. In baseball, you hit the ball to right side of the infield to advance the runner over. In basketball, you pass the ball to your teammate if you feel he has a better shot. You rely on those teammates to achieve the ultimate goal, which is to win the game.

Evidently, Dwayne Wade doesn’t prescribe to my school of thought. He said, “We’re not the Boston Celtics. We’re not these kinds of teams that need to play together. We have guys that have the individual talent, and sometimes the individual talent, one-on-one ability is going to take over. Boston has more of guys that have great individual talent, but they feed off each other.” Guess the Celtics do it the wrong way, huh D-Wade? That’s why, entering action on Tuesday night, they had a 2.5 game lead on the Heat for the best record in the Eastern Conference.

The popular theory is that the NBA is a superstar driven league where individualism is magnified and necessary. How often does the end of a game come down to a one-on-one “iso” play, after all? But it’s been evident in recent years that even the great ones need not only good teammates, but need to learn how to play together as a team. Kobe Bryant, when commenting recently about Carmelo Anthony’s current plight with the Denver Nuggets, essentially implied he had the misfortune of playing with the likes of Smush Parker. He knows the importance of teammates, despite his reputation of being a selfish player, and that’s why he has five rings.

I give all this background data knowing full well it has nothing to do with the 2010-2011 Miami Heat. This Heat team features three players who at one time or another have been the focal point of their team during their careers, and now they are going through a process of give and take. All three of their respective scoring numbers are down slightly, but they knew that would happen. After all, LeBron did say they realized their days of winning MVP titles were probably over.

In a seven game series everything is magnified. The half-court offense becomes more a part of the game, and even superstars need teammates in those situations. There are no games against the Cavaliers where anyone can loaf. Everyone must bring it every night. The Heat really need to learn how to play together, and Wade needs to take this seriously if he has visions of earning a second championship.

Do you remember at the beginning of the season when the Heat were struggling, and much of the blame that wasn’t being put on Eric Spoelstra was put on the fact that the big trio didn’t play much during the pre-season? They hadn’t had time to develop much chemistry. We’ve had the team chemistry debate on this website, and while Sports Geek didn’t feel it was that important in the verdict, I certainly felt, and still feel, team chemistry plays a big part in a team’s overall success.

The bottom line is the “one-on-one” mentality that Wade speaks of is not the type of mindset to have in the playoffs. Perhaps we’ll see the “team” talent in Boston against the “individual” talent in Miami in the post-season, and see whose talent prevails. I think Mr. Wade will realize that he needs the help of the role players on the TEAM to help bring a title to South Beach.

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The Pat Riley Taking the Heat Debate… Keep the Hair Gel in the Bottle

November 30, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Optimist Prime.

It’s no surprise to me that the Miami Heat are struggling somewhat, and their current status in the NBA standings indicates that they are indeed struggling. I thought it would take some time for the evil trifecta to gel, and that’s been the case on many nights. But 10-8? That’s a record I thought would belong to a team like the Atlanta Hawks, a middle of the road team with no real shot of advancing deep into the playoffs. These struggles have led to the popular opinion that Eric Spoelstra is squarely on the hot seat and rumblings have been coming out of South Beach that Spoelstra , or Spo (as LeBron calls him) is losing the confidence and trust of his players. It’s just speculation that current Heat president Pat Riley may come down from the front office, put a fresh batch of hair gel in, and return courtside. But, with all due respect to what the Zen Master thinks, count me among those who don’t think that would be such a good idea.

Don’t get me wrong. Pat Riley is widely regarded as one of the greatest coaches in NBA history. He has won five NBA championships, including one in 2006 with a Dwyane Wade-led Heat team. That was then. This is now. Riley is now 65 years young. Not old by an means, but old enough to be the grandfather of some of these Heat players.

I’m hearing the critics say, “Well, Pat just won a title four years ago. He hasn’t lost it.” Well, in my mind, Pat Riley had something to prove that season. Yes, he came in and saved the day for Superman (Shaq) and won a title. But he also had to prove to himself, and maybe to the rest of the league, that he could win without the great Lakers teams on the court in front of him. You see, all of his previous championships were won during the Showtime Era . He was able to win with the Heat and for that, he was awarded a lifetime supply of hair gel, probably.

Lest we forget, however, what happened during Riley’s last season in Miami, which was the 2007-2008 campaign. He went a forgettable 15-67, which was the worst record of his career. Maybe that’s fresh in Wade’s mind when Wade is supposedly secretly not in support of Riley coming back courtside. If Riley wouldn’t have the support of Wade, then why even make that move if you are the Heat? Isn’t that where you are now? Isn’t there a coach in charge who supposedly doesn’t have the support of the players? D-Wade’s quote of, “I’m not going to say he’s my guy, but he’s my coach, you know” certainly is interesting, considering Spo was already on staff when Wade was drafted.

It’s not realistic to think Riley could come down out of coaching retirement on his little white stallion and wave the magic wand and all of a sudden make the troubles of the Heat go away. Some of these troubles are going to have to be worked around (the lack of a true center and the dubious distinction of having a member of the Fab Five on the team, some 19 years after he first stepped on campus in Ann Arbor). Who is to say Riley could fix this mid-season, especially since he has been out of coaching for two and a half years?

There are just too many unknowns with Riley. Yes, he has the experience, but after telling the James-Chris Bosh-Wade during the off-season that “Spo” was the man, would he have the respect? That’s questionable, and that makes Riley’s possible return courtside a questionable decision.

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The Is LRMR Good For the NBA Debate… LRMR Spells Collaborative Empowerment

August 3, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Bleacher Fan.

This whole LRMR thing is getting out of hand.

The problem is people don’t know what LRMR is and what it is here to do. So please allow me to clarify. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an enemy of the state. It’s not a seedy crime syndicate. And it’s not an evil force out to destroy the world.

So now that we know what LRMR isn’t – the Taliban, the mafia, or Justin Beiber – let us try to establish what LRMR is.

It is a marketing agency, plain and simple. A marketing agency that is trying to strengthen the brand of those it represents through collaborative endorsement, not undermine basketball.

Think about the Michael Jordan brand. On his own MJ is one of the most marketable sports stars in history, but somewhere along the lines he discovered that his brand was stronger and more valuable when it was supported by a broad network of stars. Today, names like Derek Jeter, Jason Taylor, and Carmelo Anthony all represent the Jordan brand in different sports and cities, now the Jordan symbol is truly iconic and transcends basketball. That’s similar to the approach that LRMR is implementing, but it is not just limited to a player’s brand. Now players seek to establish control over their careers and where they will play by working together. This collaborative empowerment is not a threat to basketball, but is simply the next logical step in the progression of the game. LRMR is leading the way though the journey is not without its fair share of struggles.

At the very heart of the issue is the simple fact that LRMR is a marketing agency that is ironically experiencing a bit of bad publicity. The focal figure of the agency is the talented and controversial LeBron James. The company was built by, for, and around King James and his brand. That means as goes the public perception of James, so goes that of LRMR. Despite being nearly a month removed from “The Decision” there is still a significant backlash against James, and not surprisingly the negative feelings carry over to LRMR.

But what has the company actually done wrong? I say, “nothing!” LRMR has put its clients in the driver’s seat to their future. It has driven up value through collaboration with other stars. Nowhere is that more apparent than with James’ decision to join with stars and friend Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh. Clearly James and his agency believed that his worth as part of a super team was even greater than being the biggest fish in a small pond. The fact that it wasn’t just LeBron choosing, but James and Co. deciding where the best opportunities exist for everyone speaks volumes of this new collective player empowerment.

Some critics may attack this strategy and decry it as collusion, but that’s far from accurate. Collusion refers to a secretive agreement, which James decision to consult with other free agents certainly wasn’t. Near the end of the playoffs James seemed to be telling anyone that would listen that he felt that he and other free agent stars could reshape the NBA landscape by collaborating on where to go and how that could impact the NBA for the better.

This is somewhat of a paradigm shift for the NBA and sports in general. It demonstrates how owner’s control over players and the league is continually eroding as players demand more control. James’ decision was so shocking in part because it was one of the few times in sports where a player decided something besides money – owners’ biggest bargaining chip – was their biggest priority. Make no mistake, this was no fluke. It was a benchmark in the evolution of player empowerment.

It has been happening for a while. From free agency to no-trade clauses, players have slowly been assuming more control over their own careers. This is yet another milestone in that journey. Just as factory workers demanding more money, better conditions, and a shorter work day was once unfathomable it became a reality through cooperation and worker unity. So, too, is the case for modern athletes. By no means am I saying they are underpaid or ill-treated, but they have discovered that they are stronger together than they are apart.

My opponent for this debate, Bleacher Fan, will no doubt point to the actions of New Orleans guard Chris Paul. Despite two years remaining on his contract with the Hornets, he has attempted to force a trade since signing with LRMR. I will concede the point that it is neither ethical nor wise for players to try to void their legal commitments with a team in order to further their worth and brand. But Paul is an extreme case which really hasn’t worked out. If anything, his attempts at forcing a trade illustrate an isolated incident of the growing pains the league faces as players attempt to test the boundaries of their new found power.

Right now LRMR may not be liked. It is certainly not like by those who stand to lose the most when players gain power – the owners. But it is just part of inevitable progress. No one is asking the owners or media to like it… just accept it. I would be foolish to think I could persuade today’s judge, Sports Geek, into thinking LRMR is the greatest thing to hit basketball since the three point shot, but it is progress. It is an undeniable example of athletes taking ownership of their career, just as any worker would want to do in their respective field. Professional athletes are some of the most handsomely rewarded workers in the world, but they are workers nonetheless. We should not be surprised that they are following a historical path to progress. The LRMR is not the enemy. It is the future.

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The Biggest NBA Free Agency Story Debate… Super Friends in Miami

July 9, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Loyal Homer and Sports Geek.

It’s over! Done! Finished!

No, I’m not talking about the mind numbing drama of the LeBron James free agent extravaganza. I’m talking about the 2011 NBA playoffs. That’s right, I said it. Mark it on your calendars – July 8, 2010 – a date which will live in sports infamy because it is the day the Miami Heat won the NBA championship before the season even started.

In the immortal words of Will Smith, “Welcome to Miami, Bienvenido a Miami.” This city has just become the center of the basketball universe as three real life supermen – LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh – converge on the same team and leave the rest of the league reeling in the wake of this Earth shattering decision. This is the single most shocking development in NBA free agent history. Never before have stars of this caliber collaborated to assure the creation of a super team and potentially one of the greatest dynasties in sports history.

For all the doubters and haters out there that question if three such stars can coexist and work well together I’d like to point out they already have. James, Wade, and Bosh are a world class trio and they’ve got the gold to back it up. Former Olympic teammates, the fearsome threesome helped lead Team USA to a gold medal in basketball at the most recent Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Olympic teams are comprised of the best players each country has to offer, and now three of the best players from the world’s best team will be running the boards during each home game in South Beach next season. One key to the Dream Team Reboot’s success was a less selfish approach to the game, something we are going to see demonstrated all season long in Miami next season. They have done it before, and they are going to do it again. Coexistence won’t be a problem, but deciding how to divide a league MVP three ways might be.

While I don’t pretend to be a soothsayer or fortune teller, anyone can see the writing is on the wall for the Heat to win multiple championships over the next five years. They pretty much have to, because LeBron’s legacy is riding on it. He cited the urgency to “win championships” as one of the most important factors in his decision. Wade and Bosh figure to help him do exactly that, and continue doing it for a long time to come. Last night during the ESPN coverage of “The Decision” Michael Wilbon said he thought that the Heat were likely to win three championships over four years. I think that’s a conservative estimate.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of good teams out there, but they won’t be able to compete with this new breed of mega team. Riding the success of just one of these stars, Wade, helped the Heat make the 2010 playoffs. LeBron alone was enough to lead the Cavaliers to the conference semifinals, where his team even took a couple of games from the eventual conference winning Boston Celtics. Add them together, and throw Bosh in the mix, and this looks more like an honest to goodness All-Star team than anything else.

There is no way anyone else can compete with the Heat now, especially since a number of teams mortgaged their immediate future attempting to clear space for James. The Knicks have a great weapon in newly acquired forward Amar’e Stoudemire, but the Heat have three times the talent (if not even more) in James, Wade, and Bosh. While the Knicks wait yet another year to fill in the missing pieces to the puzzle (and Knicks fans made no bones about who they want as chants of “Car-mel-o, Car-mel-o, Car-mel-o” filled the night sky around the Garden yesterday), the Heat will be dominating each and every game.

Despite tough words from the Cleveland’s owner, the Cavs now face the uphill battle of building a winning team without the anchor they’ve relied on for the past seven seasons. The voodoo-esque curse that he tried to saddle LeBron with, that he wouldn’t win a championship until he does right by Cleveland, is ridiculous for a two reasons: a) Dan Gilbert is an NBA owner not a gypsy and b) LeBron already did right by the Cavaliers for the past seven years. There is no way Cleveland poses a threat to Miami. The only team that stands a chance is the L.A. Lakers.

With the magic of yet another Phil Jackson three-peat in the making, Kobe Bryant will match his best against the Miami Triad. That seems more like a fair fight, but the smart money remains on the triumvirate of league greats. Kobe is great, arguably the greatest player of all time, but can even he hang with James, Wade, and Bosh? Only time will tell.

The emergence of the Super Team in Miami is revolutionary, athletes of the highest caliber placing winning above money and team above self. It is a model in sports that has a proven track record, but rarely been implemented. I do not think this will inspire other stars to follow suit, but it will make for the most interesting basketball of our generation.

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The NBA Free Agent Double Standard Debate… We Are All Witnesses… to a Crime

July 8, 2010

Read the opposing argument from Babe Ruthless.

Thank goodness it all ends today!

My office sits right in the heart of Cavalier Country (or perhaps LeBron Land is the more appropriate term), right next door to Quicken Loans Arena on East 9th Street in Downtown Cleveland. Outside of my office window sits one of the hundreds of banners hung all over town to tell LeBron James how much the city of Cleveland loves him. Outside and below my office window for weeks stood groups of people who were literally REQUIRED by their employer to stand, waving similar banners, blowing air horns, and inciting traffic to honk back at them.

Why? As Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports writes, “So that these hard-working people can “beg a diva who doesn’t care about them to accept a $100 million contract.”

Sounds ridiculous, right?! Well, it is.

LeBron James has made a joke of himself (a WEALTHY joke, perhaps, but a joke nonetheless), and a joke of the good people of Cleveland. Whatever his decision, his actions leading up to tonight’s pathetic excuse for a serious announcement will have forever altered the relationship he has with the city he once claimed as his home.

If he leaves, he will join the ranks of Art Modell as one of the most vile, despicable people to have ever associated their name with Cleveland sports. If he stays, the pain and anguish that he put the city through will nevertheless hang like a shadow over the collective hearts of Cavs fans everywhere.

They will forgive him, but they will never forget.

And although this abhorrent display of pompous selfdom has reached a fever pitch since Free Agent season began on July 1, it is actually the culmination of a process that began several years ago.

Do not fool yourself into thinking that this circus developed organically, either. The NBA, and the greater sporting world at large, has actually been little more than pawns in a game that LeBron James and his cohorts around the league began playing more than two years ago. They have manipulated the league and its fans like puppets in a show, all designed to build up towards the climax that will be “The Decision.”

For the past two years LeBron has strutted all over the NBA like a tease on prom night, feigning interest in anyone who would bat an eye in his direction just long enough to get them worked up to a near frenzied state – only to a cold shoulder just at the point where it would make them crazier, rather than turn them off.

He has been very blatant in his intentions, and spoken openly about how excited he was to play the field when the 2010 period of free agency opened. He made it known that he would openly solicit all suitors, getting team officials and fans alike salivating at the possibility of having “The King” grace their own court.

For two years LeBron has dangled his free agency like a carrot on a stick, all for one reason – to inflate his already overinflated value. Unfortunately for everyone who is NOT LeBron James, his strategy worked.

So what did Dwayne Wade, Amar’e Stoudemire, Chris Bosh, and Joe Johnson do? Like a shark smelling blood in the water, they joined in on the fun.

And of course the scavenging media quickly followed. Every tweet from one player to another, every piece of clothing that one of the players wore, and every game played in the city of a prospective future employer became a headline story. And when James, Wade, and Bosh allegedly met for a “summit” (the fact that it was even dubbed a summit is ridiculous) to seriously discuss all options and strategize what would be the best thing for each of them to do, the process which started out as little more than a self-marketing campaign took the plunge into full-fledged collusion!

If this three-ringed extravaganza had been put on by team officials trying actively to recruit LeBron and company, they would have immediately been punished. The NBA prohibits collusion among team officials because they don’t want teams to have the ability of manipulating league conditions to manufacture an unfair advantage over the players or fans.

That rule does not apply to players, though, and so LeBron and his buddies were permitted to run unchecked, and the result was the manipulation of EVERYONE, all for their own selfish gain. It was a vicious cycle that continued to feed itself, ultimately snowballing into one of the most absurd and ridiculous sports spectacles ever.

A pack of free agents, led by LeBron James, was able to completely monopolize the free agency process.

What would have surely been an intense period of contract negotiation instead transformed into a sports version of “The Bachelor.” with the free agents each holding open court to see which teams would jump highest and bend farthest to give all they had.

Teams cut their own throats for two full seasons, all on the promise that they would be “allowed” to talk to James, Wade, and the other free agents. Fans across the country had to endure frustration, grief, and anguish, all on the hope that it would be worth it after July 2010.

The problem is that only one team can sign LeBron James and/or Dwayne Wade, so what about those other teams? The New Jersey Nets and New York Knicks, for example, had dumped every possible contract they could to make as much cap room available as possible. If they should fail to land any of the marquis free agents (Amar’e Stoudemire will be playing in the Big Apple, but by himself that is small consolation) the teams will both be hamstrung for the NEXT three to five years, after having willingly committed suicide over past seasons.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are another organization completely crippled by this power heist the players have committed. LeBron James had worked the system so much in his favor that the Cavaliers literally NEED him to sign with them. They had invested so much time and money into supporting him that if he leaves, the team will be crippled. They will have no means to begin the rebuilding process, and would simply be cast aside like a used up husk, all because LeBron James no longer found value in their organization.

What will happen to the Cavs?

When the curtain falls on this Shakespearean tragedy, many teams will be left in utter ruin, all so that four or five free agents could get maximum contract offers (AND maximum exposure). They have hijacked the entire NBA, and forever altered the course of professional basketball.

If the NBA wishes to regain ANY control over the situation to prevent this from ever happening again, the league needs to impose the same restrictions on free agents as it does on team executives. The “business” of basketball should play out in a business-like fashion, with the same rules applying to both sides of the bargaining table. Without that EQUAL responsibility, you end up with what we are “Witnessing” today, which is a one-sided free-for-all, where the whims and egos of a few can assume far too much control over the many.

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The Getting LeBron James Debate… The Windy City Has the Upper Hand

June 30, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

Tomorrow is July 1, 2010. Yep, I have a calendar on my desk, so I am privy to this information. I also watch a lot of sports television, so I know how big of a sports day tomorrow supposedly is. If you don’t, where have you been?

Tomorrow starts a period of time that promises to change the landscape of the NBA. Almost on a daily basis we are hearing rumors about which team will get the top free agents and who is going with them. Almost all of these involve Lebron James in some way. LeBron James is perhaps the most heavily debated player in this Web site’s 13 month existence. That will continue today as we debate which team is positioned best to acquire his services. My article comes with a little bit of doubt, as Miami will possibly be able to sway LeBron with the Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh package. But, I still argue that Chicago is best positioned.

Obviously, to be able to go after James, a team has to not only be willing to spend the cash it would take to bring him and his headband to town, but a team also must have the necessary salary cap room. Chicago has that. It became to clear to all of us last week that the Bulls were clearing cap room to make a big splash in free agency by trading Kirk Hinrich to the Washington Wizards (though it can’t be announced until July 8). That trade gave the Bulls close to $30M to spend on free agents, which is almost enough to sign not only one, but two players to maximum contracts.

The team that LeBron would be coming to is loaded with young talent and ready to make a run at multiple championships. He knows this all too well as the Cavs played the Bulls in the first round of the playoffs this past season, and the Bulls actually played them tough. The current roster includes a young All-Star in Derrick Rose, and young solid players in Joakim Noah and Luol Deng (who is a six year veteran, but still only 26). This does not even include the second player that the Bulls could sign in addition to James. Possibilities include Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudemire, Carlos Boozer, and others. Can you imagine a starting lineup that included James, Bosh, Rose, and Noah? They would immediately elevate to the top of the Eastern Conference and would be a serious threat to dethrone the Lakers next season. At least on paper, that is.

Many experts have stated that LeBron would be interested in going to Chicago because of the Michael Jordan factor. James is on record as saying he idolizes Number 23, so much that he is actually going to give up his own jersey number to pay respect to the man he calls the greatest basketball player ever (and many of us agree). He has seen stories about Jordan and about how Chicago is a great sports town and how they embrace a winner. If James seeks out advice from M.J. and M.J. nudges him toward Chicago, then James would definitely take that into consideration.

The bottom line is that LeBron wants to win (Editor’s Note: Or be rich?), and he wants to surround himself with a winning team. Playing in Chicago with the young talent they already have in place in addition to another free agent prize would be the best possible winning situation for him. Chicago remains the front runner in the LeBron James sweepstakes.

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