In an age where people are always looking at the here and now, it seems almost presumptuous to say that LeBron James leaving Cleveland and signing somewhere else would be the biggest move in the history of NBA free agency. However, taking everything into consideration, it's pretty simple to see it that way. The only other free agent move that could even be deemed in the same stratosphere as LeBron James going elsewhere would be the departure of Shaquille O'Neal from Orlando and heading to Hollywood back in 1996. That's the only one. And, even then, Shaq wasn't from the Orlando area and only played the first four years of his career there. A poll that was posted on a billboard outside of his mother's office building was the last straw for Shaq. Orlando fans wanted to keep coach Brian Hill more than they wanted to keep their franchise center. Well, this is an entirely different situation. The fans want to keep LeBron and they already ousted their head coach. This offseason is the most pivotal and influential offeseason in NBA history.Shaquille O'Neal left the Orlando Magic as the most dominant force in the NBA. He entered Hollywood at a time where the Lakers were struggling to effectively compete in the Western Conference. They were making the playoffs but were seeing a lot of early round exits. Now take a look at it from LeBron James' perspective. He is the most dominant force in the NBA today. Wherever he goes, it'll become the center of the basketball universe. Same way that it did for Shaq. The free agent acquisition of Shaquille O'Neal by the Los Angeles Lakers was the biggest free agent moment in the last twenty years for the NBA. Without question. Imagine what LeBron leaving would be?
LeBron, and his entourage, could go anywhere in the basketball world and just automatically take over. They'd be the top dogs and run things. Many people have discounted the Clippers chances in the LeBron Sweepstakes, and I can see where they're coming from, but if he truly wants to make a monumental impact on the basketball world, why not sign with the Clippers? I won't even talk up the supporting cast that he'd have but rather just look at the situation he'd step into. He'd be able to be play in the second largest media market in North America while being able to play in a top notch athletic facility. The fact that the Clippers are just being dismissed in the talks surrounding LeBron is ludicrous. Chad Ford didn't even list the Clippers among teams that'd be looking at LeBron. ESPN SportsNation didn't even list the Clippers as an option in their "Which team has the best chance of signing LeBron James?" poll. Adnan Virk, one of the ESPNEWS anchors, actually said "I'm curious, states that don't necessarily have a vested interest, i.e. California and Texas." How, exactly, does California not have a vested interest in where LeBron goes?
The Pursuit of the King is the most impactful time in NBA history. Whichever team he chooses to go to will automatically become a top three team in the National Basketball Association and whatever media market he chooses to go to will automatically be skyrocketed right up to the top. LeBron makes things happen. Now let's just hope, and possibly pray, that LeBron James chooses to be his own man and do things his own way rather than take the easy way out. If legacy means as much to LeBron as we'd all like to think it does, then choosing the Staples Center as his place to call home and choosing the Clippers jersey as his stitches of choice would go a long way to instilling a legacy that might become unmatched. He will have played for two of the most decrepit franchises in NBA history. He will have taken one to the NBA Finals and soared them to heights they've never seen. He will have the chance of taking the other to the same length(s). A title with the Clippers would send LeBron's legacy so high into orbit that it'd take Neil Armstrong to see it.
So, when July 8th rolls around and LeBron James is mulling over his decision, David Stern and the rest of the head honchos in the NBA League Office will be cringing at the thought of LeBron leaving Cleveland and playing elsewhere. It'll send shock waves across the league the likes of which has never been seen before. One does have to wonder, though. Would LeBron come to the Clippers just to spite Kobe and try to take over the town? Would he try to do what Shaq did and go coast-to-coast in order to enrich his legacy? In a lot of ways, a LeBron-Griffin duo would be just like a Shaq-Kobe duo but in reverse. You'd have the most dominant player in the league today joining forces with a brash young rookie who is hellbent on taking the league by the balls. In some cases, we'd call that just a perfect storm.
When push comes to shove, I hope LeBron does what's best for him. And I hope he doesn't get sucked into all the other shenanigans going on. This is his decision and his decision alone. All I know is that there hasn't ever been a free agency like this one and there will never be another one like it. That much is certain.