If he reads this, LeBron James might decide to stay put

Like many of us from time to time, LeBron James must decide where he is
going to work next. This has created a smattering of interest. ESPN, for
instance, has created a Web page called the “LeBron Tracker,” which
includes a countdown-to-free-agency clock; when it hits zero, I assume
James will drop out of the sky onto Times Square.

Actually, best I can tell from reading the New York papers, James is
going to sign with the Knicks and the Nets.

Here is a rundown of the most likely places LeBron will land:

• Cavaliers: James has reached the proverbial fork in the road. If he
follows the same route to The Q, they’ll name the highway after him. But
if he takes the interstate out of town, he’d better take all his
belongings because nobody’s letting him come back home.

I guess it says something about our culture that, if LeBron leaves Cleveland, the town will go into a 20-year depression. (If he leaves Cleveland for New York, you can add a zero to that.) I’m not good at professional advice, but I’ll offer LeBron this: Stay the course at home and keep bringing sunshine to a city clouded with doubts. You don’t want to become Art Modell, do you?

• Los Angeles Clippers: If Nike ran the NBA, James would join Kobe Bryant for a Tinseltown marketing bonanza! Can you imagine LeBron and Kobe in the same arena? That would be like Gypsy Rose Lee and Blaze Starr working the same pole. But there are problems. First of all, traffic is so bad in L.A., Kobe commutes to Staples Center by helicopter. (For real.) Second of all, the team is owned by Donald Sterling, who also owns apartment buildings; frankly, his properties – including the Clippers – all look like they could use a fresh coat of paint.

• New York Knicks: Really, outside of New York, who wants to see LeBron end up in New York? It remains a great city and a grating sports town. And for all its greatness, the Big Apple has no vacancies – all the best addresses are gone. You think LeBron’s going to live in a fifth-floor walkup with no doorman? Not to mention, with or without LeBron, the Knicks stink. I can smell the stench from here and I’m 2,400 miles away. There’s virtually no difference between the team’s current roster and the line of people at Radio Shack waiting to buy phone chargers.

• New Jersey Nets: Who wouldn’t want to work for a Russian billionaire and Beyonce’s husband? And supposedly the Nets are moving to sexy Brooklyn in 2012, though that arena might not get built until 2512. Until then, the team will play in Newark, N.J., which, stunningly, is the Nets’ ace in the hole. Newark – on the uptick – is now Paris on the Turnpike. Newark is close to the Atlantic Ocean (a top-five ocean); it’s home to Port Newark, one of the world’s top shipping ports, and, most important, it’s no more than a 10-minute helicopter ride into Manhattan


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