Why LeBron will stay in Cleveland

J Money asked me an interesting question the other day: "Does an NBA title make LeBron more or less likely to stay in Cleveland?"

Here's my take on the matter.

If LeBron wants to leave, there's nothing that anyone can do to stop him. The key is making him not want to leave. The Cavaliers have done that by consistently upgrading not only the team, but the facilities as well. They've consulted with him about players and styles of play. They've made him comfortable. Normally I'm not one for coddling players and treating certain guys different than the rest of the team, but in this case the way the Cavs have pulled it off makes it seem like none of the other players mind. They're having too much fun to mind. They're as tight-knit and as loose as any team I can remember. They hang together off the court and that comraderie helps them to play better on the court. Because of the atmosphere surrounding this team, I think that LeBron will stay in C-Town regardless of whether he wins a championship or not. Of course, I say that now. A lot can happen in a year.

Will he leave because of money? There's all the rumors about a $100 million increase in his Nike contract if he goes to one of the 3 big markets. Is he going to play for the Clippers? I don't think so. The Lakers have no need for him and can't afford him anyway without gutting their roster of all of its depth. I don't think he'll go to Chicago and work in the shadow of Michael Jordan. That leaves the Knicks and the Nets. If the Nets don't move to Brooklyn (and that's looking less and less likely as time goes on) then there's no draw for him. He could go to the Knicks but that team is reminiscent of his early years with the Cavs. Does he really want to go through that again? I don't think so. Ultimately players are measured by their rings and if he wants those then he'd have to wait at least 5 years to get one in New York. That leaves the Cavaliers. They can pay him the most salary, and with the cap likely dropping, they can pay a lot more than the next nearest team.

I think he'll stay because he's comfortable here. He's from here, and regardless of whether he wears Cowboys and Yankees hats or not, he knows what it's like to be a Clevelander. He knows the ever present sense of dread that exists whenever a sports team is close to anything meaningful. He knows the history. He knows that there have been no champions in this city in over 50 years. Fifty years! He has a chance to end all of that, and if he does and then he leaves he will have thrown all that away. However, if he wins it all and he stays... well, you might as well rename this place Jamestown. LeBronville. Bronburg. Whatever. He will own the city more than he already does and 50 years after he retires he will still be beloved here, in much the same way as Jim Brown. That's a meaningful legacy. That's why he'll stay.

McBurse Cleared by NCAA Clearinghouse!!

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