LeBron James is widely regarded as the best basketball player in the world so inking a deal in excess of Kobe Bryant’s annual payment would rank him as the highest paid player as well, a feat which he has yet to achieve in the NBA. A one-year deal would allow James the flexibility to move around while spreading his brand to numerous cities. Why build the mecca in one institution when it can be built in multiple places? Heat road games were consistently sold out, however, the players do not receive ticket-sales compensation for these events. By moving around, not only is James expanding his global appeal but he is also earning additional dollars from fans in his new destinations. The one year contracts also allows notable frugal NBA owners to avoid the long-term deal, which can financially strap a team, force them to pay the luxury tax and prevent other potential free agent signings.
Surrounding businesses of the Quicken-Loans Arena lost in millions of dollars after James’ Cleveland departure. The tanking “LeBronomy” caused the Cavs to drop from in total attendance from second to 19th in the league. As James makes his rounds to the multitude of teams, he is a walking revenue generator. His contract should include 1% of revenue from profits of all local arena businesses as part of James signing with the new organization. If a team disagrees, he can always take his talents to their divisional rival.
A hot topic to recently make waves is James opting-out of his contract, leaving excess of $40 million on the table to become an unrestricted free agent. As the King sits on his throne and teams jive for his services, James surprises everyone when he embarks on an unprecedented one-year run of $25 million contracts, moving from city to city.
The Decision – Part Deux
2014 – 2015. The first stop for in the ‘LeBron James Tour’ is Minnesota. Franchise cornerstone Kevin Love has already informed new head coach Flip Saunders his intentions of opting-out from his contract to play in a larger market. James enjoyed this spotlight while in Miami. A starting five of star center Nikola Pekovic, perennial defender Corey Brewer, flashy point guard Ricky Rubio with James and Love, make the Timberwolves instant title contenders. James even convinces his good friend Carmelo Anthony (also a free agent) to sign with the Timberwolves, thus, ushering in a new Big Three of Anthony, James and Love.
2015 – 2016. From there, James takes his talents to Chicago. Derek Rose will need a full season to recover from his latest knee injury. He cannot be expected to be at full health next year, so James joins the Bulls the following season. Teaming with Joakim Noah, Rose and James, the Bulls are at the forefront of magazine covers, sports debate, and have the most televised games on ESPN. James has always admired Michael Jordan so his one season in the Windy City is not only be a good way for the King to give tribute to his hero but it results in the city’s first NBA title since the MJ era.
2016 – 2017. After spurning the offer of a long-term contract with the Bulls, James moves to the San Antonio Spurs. Franchise player Tim Duncan signs on for what he deems his last year in the league and James decides he wants to send Duncan to retirement in style. James had already lost twice to the Spurs in the NBA Finals but always kept a fondness to coach Gregg Popovich. Teaming with mainstays Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, the Spurs cruise through the NBA losing only four games when Coach Popovich decided to rest his star players. He is fined an undisclosed amount by NBA commissioner Adam Silver.
2017 – 2018. Three cities and three NBA titles later, James is still not intent to remain with same organization. Seeing Kyrie Irving and former top pick Andrew Wiggins form a great duo in Cleveland, the prodigal son returns home. He even selects to his former #23 as fans that had not burned their jerseys from James’ initial exit are seen rejoicing in their old blue and gold Cavaliers tops. At his opening day press conference, James is given the key to the city and states his intention to run for mayor after his playing career. During the game, James goes 0-19 through the first three quarters. It would be the first time James had not scored but he shakes off the rust to drop 25 fourth-quarter points against a heavily gray-bearded Kobe Bryant while hitting the game-winning three pointer, reminiscent of the playoff shot against the Spurs. He goes on to lead the city of Cleveland to its first major sporting title since 1945.
2018 – 2019. Pat Riley decried James for opting-out of his contract with the Heat. But time heals everything as James is welcomed back to South Beach with open arms. Bosh and Wade, who never left the Heat, had endured successive losing seasons. The Heat had only won three times over the four years, including an American sports record of futility, losing all its games during James’ initial exodus. The Heat get off to a dismal start, continuing its losing ways over the first 10 games. Coach Erik Spoelstra attributes it to lack of cohesion and bitterness between the Big Three. But they put aside their differences and go on to dominate the league. Wade returns to his star form as the Heat capture its third NBA title under the Spoelstra and Riley era.
2020 – beyond. At 36, after five consecutive NBA titles in all different cities, James has a total of seven rings, one more than his idol Jordan. Realizing his global presence in the game and advancing age, rather than playing out the remaining years as the team’s second option , James sets off to expand basketball to the popularity of soccer. With the European league’s lack of a salary cap, James inks with the Olympiacos Piraeus B.C. of Greece, a contract that perpetuates upon James’ invocation at $50 million per season. He is the first NBA superstar to sign overseas. His arrival is met with great fanfare across the Euro league as people from all over come to watch his games. The crowd is filled with competitive trash-talks in French, Polish and Spanish. James’ move is seen as a coup by his former NBA colleagues but the appeal of endless earnings in euros causes other players to make the transition. Commissioner Silver expands the NBA to include the European teams. This landmark merger is the first ever in professional sports where international teams are part of the league.
After five seasons with the Olympiacos, LeBron James retires as a player and joins the NBA front office with Commissioner Silver. The basketball maestro is honored for his plethora of contributions to the game and admired for his business savvies.