LeBron James has the entire NBA at the palm of his hand. Not only does he control the game on the court, but he controls the business side of the association as well. Basketball wise, James has the power to stop any player defensively while changing the pace of the game offensively. Off the court, he has the control of General Managers, Owners and Free Agents.
Over the past four years the 29 year old has controlled the way many teams have constructed their rosters and the decisions of some free agents. When James decided to leave Cleveland and join forces with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, it changed the NBA. Not many teams stuck together like the San Antonio Spurs, and some teams decided to taking a tanking route. Many, however, decided to try and build their own powerhouse team, and none were successful like the Heat.
The New York Knicks signed Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire to max contracts hoping they had a core to compete with the Heat, but Stoudemire hasn’t stayed healthy and Anthony’s lone production on offence wasn’t good enough. Then teams like the Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks to name a couple cleared cap space to make a run at top free agents, but other than Dwight Howard to the Rockets all teams have proven to be unsuccessful. Forcing many teams to sign average players to more than their worth on the market.
The big three of Miami won two championships over the span of four finals appearances. With James and Bosh leaving two Eastern Conference teams to join one with Wade. It made the East weaker and their run to the finals easier. However, once reaching the Finals the Heat struggled against Western Conference teams, barely pulling out their two titles in 2012 and 2013.
With the formation of the big three, President of the Heat Pat Riley had an easy time convincing free agents; Ray Allen, Shane Battier, Chris Anderson, and Mike Miller all joined the Heat in order to build a low cost efficient bench.
However, in just the span of four years James has flipped the NBA around for the second time deciding to leave Miami and return back home to Cleveland. After winning his two rings James believes it’s time to return home and help his hometown Cavaliers succeed in the NBA. He believes his four years in Miami were that of the four years he didn’t get of college. He’s ready to help a young Cavaliers team grow into a championship contender.
And all that said by James was a trick that we have all fell for. A marketing scam that has made James go from villain to possible hero. It changed the question of, can James become greater than Michael Jordan and win six titles, to a question of, can James redeem himself in Cleveland and complete his legacy as a hero? James has his two rings, and he may not need six anymore as long as he becomes a good guy in Cleveland, again.
NBA Business and 2016
James, like many other free agents this year, only signed for two years. It’s a long list of free agents who have landed two year deals: Luol Deng, Paul Pierce, Jordan Hill, Danny Granger, Mario Chalmers, Chris Anderson, Jordan Farmar, Marvin Williams, Kent Bazemore, Beno Udrih, Greivis Vasquez and many more also have signed contracts for only two years.
This year the two year contracts was just a trend going by quietly till James followed suit and many others signed afterwards. After the ’15-16 season the NBA is set to renew it’s National TV deal, which could possibly lead to the cap raising a significant amount for the ’16 free agency. Leading the way for James and other free agents to get paid more during that year.
What James has done over the past four years, and will continue to do over the next two and more for the business side of basketball is more than what any athlete has ever done for any league. James alone made the Heat $30 million more than what they would have without him.
James controlled free agency over the last four years with the Heat and he forced general managers to make huge mistakes. Now, James is rebuilding his legacy, only to be paid a larger amount in a couple years. For James it’s about the money. For the NBA family it’s not as easy. We are all caught up in James act of becoming rich and heroic.
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