This summer Heat megastar LeBron James will become the most coveted free agent in the history of the NBA if not all of professional sports. Speculation has several teams as possible destinations, a list that includes the Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, New York Knicks and the Heat themselves.
As the Clash might ask, should he stay or should he go to . . . Los Angeles?
Five reasons why James and the Lakers would be a good match:
5. From November to February, the average Los Angeles temperature is 68, 73, 68 and 69 degrees, respectively. This is not Cleveland, Toto.
4. It seems only right that he would join Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant on the long list of Lakers legends.
3. He would have ample opportunity to expand his brand into the entertainment world, one of the few things left on his career to-do list.
2. In Bryant, he would play alongside the ultimate competitor. The presence of Mamba would allow him to be less of a scorer and more of a facilitator, perhaps even raise his all-around game to another level if that’s possible.
1. Sure, the Lakers are the dregs of the NBA right now, but does anyone in his drug-free mind believe they will be down for long? Team management expects to sign another marquee free agent such as Carmelo Anthony or Kevin Love in the near future. A nucleus of Mamba, King James and either Melo or Love could be very difficult to beat.
And five reasons why they wouldn’t be:
5. Los Angeles has no NFL team, which means he can’t moonlight as a tight end.
4. It’s 2,369 miles from the Staples Center to his hometown Akron. “That’s a long drive!” as Mapquest points out.
3. Bryant finished the last two seasons on the inactive list. He’ll turn 36 years old in August. Even if the one-time Most Valuable Player is reasonably healthy next season, nobody can say for sure whether he’ll be a star or an average player or something in between.
2. Head coach Mike D’Antoni is in place right now, but there’s talk that his days are numbered. If D’Antoni were to head elsewhere, who would replace him? And would James have input on his successor?
1. It’s highly optimistic to believe the Lakers can execute an abrupt u-turn especially in a loaded Western Conference. At 29, James doesn’t have time to waste at this stage of his career.
Bottom line: From market size to championship tradition, the Lakers make for an intriguing possibility. So bent is Bryant on a sixth league title that he almost certainly would restructure his contract to accommodate James and others if necessary. At the same time, how well would the two co-exist on the court? And could this team contend before the 2014-15 season? While there are questions to be answered, the potential upside merits more than token consideration.