The grass is always greener on the other side.
Or is it?
This may not be the case for LeBron James.
James has put on a masterful stretch during his 4 seasons in Miami, winning two MVP awards and 2 championships, with a chance to win another of each this season. But there are those who say LeBron is ready to take his talents somewhere besides South Beach. To those people, I tell you exactly why LeBron is staying put in Miami.
Best opportunity to win
When LeBron first joined Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, the system was a bit dysfunctional. It looked like the Brooklyn Nets did early this season, with all of the stars simply taking turns with the ball,
And while it made their statlines look good, the team ultimately fell in the 2011 finals to Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks. Since then, unbreakable chemistry has formed between the 3 Heat stars, as well as the rest of the team. James has been surrounded with talent he could have only dreamed of in Cleveland. The odds of finding similar success or talent in another city are slim, and James knows this. A team with 3 all-stars who could all be playing somewhere else for max-contracts that mesh perfectly together is hard to come by.
He’s not getting any younger
If LeBron wants to win now and in the near future, switching teams would not be the way to go. He doesn’t have time to learn a new system or develop new chemistry. He can, however, improve the system he’s already playing in and build on the chemistry he already has with his teammates. James will continue playing at an incredibly high level until he declines (which, when you’re an unbelievable athlete with a tremendous, unguardable, versatile skillset, won’t be for a while) and he needs to make the most of those years if he wants to win more championships. LeBron doesn’t have time to experiment with different teams. He needs to win while he can.
What other choice does he have?
While every team in the league would love to add LeBron, its hard to imagine a scenario where LeBron plays for a team not located in Miami. If James were to leave the Heat, he would be looking for an upgrade over his current team, and there are not many teams better than the back-to-back champions. Despite standings, the Heat are still arguably the best team in the league. They have been coasting through the regular season in preparation for the playoffs. They boast a high-scoring offense and a chokehold defense. Even if the Heat were to lose in the finals (which shouldn’t be too hard to get to in the weaker eastern conference), would LeBron move to the then-reigning champions? While he wants to win championships, he is not what people would call a “ringchaser”. Those players are the ones at the end of their careers who want to win championships. James is not ready to be a role player on a contender. The 29 year old superstar is not looking to join a rebuilding project (that means you, Cleveland), and he will most certainly be looking to instantly win a championship. He will want to play on a successful team in which he can be the undisputed alpha-dog. Joining a team like the Rockets, Bulls, or Lakers would create controversy among the leaders of those teams and LeBron. It would not be in LeBron’s best interests to sign a long-term deal he may later regret, demanding a trade in the process (See: Dwight Howard). Dwyane Wade made one of the most mature decisions we’ve ever seen in sports, handing his team to James. A superstar like that is rare, and LeBron knows it.
Miami is the place to be
Location, location, location.
With the big 3 in tact, Pat Riley as the general manager, and the Heat located in Miami, the Heat can practically get any missing piece of the puzzle they want. Also, Miami seems to be the revitalizing spot for careers (besides San Antonio of course). Chris “Birdman” Andersen was on his way out of the league before the Heat called him, and now he’s an essential part of a title contender. Michael Beasley couldnt get his act together and was cut by the Phoenix Suns. The Heat signed him and he became a steady contributor off the bench. Greg Oden was never supposed to play basketball ever again, but Miami took a chance on him, and now he plays valuable minutes and occasionally starts. Big market teams are popular landing spots for players, and Miami is one of the biggest. LeBron knows this is his team. This is by far the best option he has.
Also, who doesn’t love the weather down there?
LeBron has already been the villain
Universally hated, LeBron and the Heat were known as the villains of the NBA after the infamous ‘decision’. The entire nation became Mavericks Fans once it was known they would play the Heat in the 2011 finals. Now, soon to be faced with another decision, James will have the option of being seen as a selfish ringchaser, or as the hero of South Beach. In his short time there, he has done spectacular things, but to leave may overshadow those things. Could he handle being hated again, just when people around the league are learning to like him again? To leave the Heat to make amends with the Cavaliers in the twilight of his career is one thing, but to leave Miami in 2014 would be something else entirely. With the free agency of 2010 behind him, LeBron has a chance to rewrite his legacy, not as the coward from Cleveland, but as the man who brought championships back to Miami and solidified his place among the NBA’s all-time best.
LeBron James is in the best case scenario. Although taking a pay cut, he is playing alongside 2 star players, has a Hall of Famer coming off the bench, is the undisputed leader of his team, and is in one of the best organizations in all of sports. Expect LeBron James to stay put in Miami, and expect the Heat to be a powerhouse for years to come.