For months, I’ve been saying that LeBron James probably won’t come to Chicago because he wouldn’t want to play in Michael Jordan’s shadow. After all, LeBron wants to be the best ever, and he would have to win at least six or seven titles here to reach or surpass the summit of Mount Jordan.
Seems both impossible and unlikely.
However, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News doesn’t think that will be a problem:
“It has been said that LeBron won’t go to Chicago because either he couldn’t or wouldn’t want to chase Jordan’s legacy. Actually, I think it is the complete opposite. When Shaquille O’Neal signed with the Lakers did anyone say, ‘Why would you want to go there and play in the shadow of Kareem and Magic?’ Did anyone say that Kevin Garnett was crazy to force a trade to the Celtics because of Bill Russell’s legacy? If anything, these players wanted to be part of great franchises with rich traditions. I believe that LeBron thinks about having his No. 6 hang in the rafters alongside of Jordan’s No. 23 at the United Center. Does that mean he’s going to Chicago? No. But I think the legacy of Jordan actually helps the Bulls in this case.”
While Isola could be right about LeBron’s attitude — nobody really knows except LeBron — I think he chose too bad examples. After all, Shaq had other reasons for going to the Lakers…namely that he wanted to be in L.A. so he could work on his acting and music careers. (And thank goodness he did, because it gave us wonders of nature such as Kazaam and You Can’t Stop the Reign.) As for KG, he was near the end of his career and desperate to win, something that was never, ever going to happen in Minnesota.
At any rate, form Bull Charles Oakley has something to add on the matter. Apparently, Oakley — who also happens to be BFFs with MJ — has become something of a friend/mentor to LeBron over the past couple years. And here’s what Oak has to say about LeBron’s free agent destination: “Chicago or Miami. Not New York. He’s leaving [Cleveland]. He wants to go someplace where he can win. He’s been in the league, what, seven or eight years? It’s time for him to get over the hump.”
I have no idea whether Oakley has actual insider information on this subject or he’s just guessing like everybody else. But those two locations make sense: The Bulls have the best existing core (Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, Taj Gibson and Kirk Hinrich) while the Heat have more money to spend and the best individual player (Dwyane Wade).
But, of course, all we can do is continue waiting and wondering.
As far as Amar’e Stoudemire goes, his Phoenix Suns have been The Surprise of the 2010 NBA playoffs (or maybe The Second Surprise after Cleveland’s second round elimination). Why would he want to leave the place where sets the table and serves his dinner so well? And why would the Suns ever let him go?
And if you listen to what Steve Kerr has to say, it sounds like Phoenix is ready to bust open the piggy bank to make sure STAT sticks around. This is what Kerr said on the Dan Patrick Show. “We can afford it. We’ve had one of the top five, six payrolls in the NBA for four years running. We’ll spend money, that’s not the question. We have to make sure we spend it the right way. Hopefully we can get something done with Amar’e. That’s the plan.”
Of course, it may come down to more than money for Stoudemire. Nash is, after all, 36 years old. As good as Captain Canada is, you have to figure he can’t keep playing at this level forever. Nor can Grant Hill. And past Nash, Hill and Stoudemire, the Suns are pretty thin talent-wise. They have a lot of solid complementary players and that’s about it.
So the door is probably still open.