According to every report, one of the clinching factors that made the young two-time MVP decide to leave Cleveland for Miami came when Heat general manager Pat Riley put his championship rings – earned as the head coach of the Lakers in the 80s and one as the coach of the Heat in 2006 – on the table. The appeal of winning his first title was enough to make LeBron uproot his family from his hometown of Akron, Ohio, and head to South Beach. All LeBron wanted was a ring and he ended up changing the course of the NBA forever. By opting to join his superstar friends in Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, James started a trend of NBA players establishing the autonomy to dictate the terms of their contracts and their destinations going forward – the same type of autonomy that created the Golden State Warriors super dynasty that landed Demarcus Cousins just last night.
Thats why LeBrons Decision 1.0 was so unpopular. He put the power that was exclusive to owners and billionaires back in the hands of the meager athlete, allowing the player to be his own boss. The move changed sports forever.
Ending weeks of silence and drama, LeBron James said on his ESPN special on Thursday night that he’s decided to join the Miami Heat and leave the Cleveland Cavaliers after an unsuccessful seven-year quest for the championship he covets. (July 8)
In the eight years since the decision, LeBron has continued to forge a path that has made him a singular entity in sports. He led protests (wearing I Cant Breathe shirts on NBA courts), called Donald Trump a bum and redefined what it has meant to be an off-the-court entity. LeBron and business partner Maverick Carter have created a one-man multimedia conglomerate featuring his SpringHill entertainment production company, his Uninterrupted digital programming network, and has sold movie and TV projects to the highest bidders Los Angeles has to offer.
So in 2018, when LeBron James made his third decision, he had different motivations than he did eight years ago. Now, LeBron James is building something bigger and better than a basketball career, so he made his choice for a new team with that in mind. As you probably know by now, that choice led him to join the Los Angeles Lakers, with an eye not on the next five years of his career but the next few generations of James lineage.
LeBron James wants to be a billionaire, a one-man conglomeration of business acumen, activism, and excellence. Spending the rest of his life in Los Angeles brings him closer to those goals. He’s now in the same city as all of his business endeavors and can flex his business muscle amongst likeminded thinkers and moneymakers. Los Angeles, the city, presents just another challenged that James looks to conquer. And I wouldnt be surprised if this leads to, at some point in the next decade, him putting a bid in to buy the Cavs from the Trump-loving, loan-sharking owner, Dan Gilbert, who wrote a plantation-y comic sans rant about James free decision to leave in 2010.
And therein lies the power in LeBron James choices. He is approaching his future in a way that is unprecedented in sports. He wants more than wealth. He wants power. The power to choose. The power to speak. The power to empower other athletes to follow in his footsteps. Placing himself at the feet of Magic Johnson, learning his business acumen and pushing it forward only makes him more equipped to accomplish his goals as he gets older.
Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman discuss how soon the Los Angeles Lakers might be able to compete with Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and the Golden STate Warriors, with Stephen A. saying a team with LeBron James might be able to do it this season, especially with a trade for Kawhi Leonard.
Whats so terrifying to the old boy network across the country is the fact that LeBron James is pretty much perfect. Seriously. Hes a once-in-a-lifetime anomaly. Hes been in the public spotlight since he was in high school and has never made a misstep. Ever. No embarrassing scandals. No vices. No weaknesses. Just a man focused on greatness and achieving that greatness in every endeavor. So why is there any belief that hell fail at being the biggest businessman he wants to be?
But you know whats even more terrifying for an establishment of rich, white billionaires who dont want someone like LeBron in their midsts? That hell do what he did in 2010: set the blueprint for self-empowerment for a generation of athletes and entrepreneurs that look to his cues for how to excel in whatever off-court endeavors they want. Therein will lie the true legacy of LeBron James and his GOAT status.