With the NBA announcing the final All-Star Game voting results, Cleveland Cavaliers superstar LeBron James was the top vote-getters followed by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry, with both of them being team captains for the upcoming All-Star Draft:
— NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2018
While James held off Milwaukee Bucks star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for top vote recipient in the East, who had the entire country of Greece on his side, this game certainly has some intrigue when it comes to King James. The 2018 NBA All-Star Game is being hosted this year in Los Angeles at the Staples Center, home to one of the greatest franchises in NBA history, the Los Angeles Lakers.
Since the Cavs’ latest bout with the Warriors in last season’s NBA Finals, the NBA rumor hive has been buzzing ever since The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor posted an editorial sharing that James would soon be leaving his hometown Cavaliers to join the Lakers. Then said hive that was buzzing became near-deafening after pictures surfaced later on that James and his wife Savannah were looking at properties and schools in the greater Los Angeles area until they bought a second mansion in the City of Angels.
While a lot of this does seem like James may be looking to head to Los Angeles next season to play for the Lakers, this still does not make any sense at all. The amount of hysteria and the constant “armchair GM’s” on Facebook, Twitter, and Reddit shouting that LeBron will don the purple and gold next season are nauseating and today I am going to dispel this speculation by pointing out quite a few obvious things that will keep James with the Wine and Golders for the remainder of his career.
As mentioned before, James and his wife were scouting out schools in the area for his two sons, LeBron Jr and Bryce Maximus, to attend and eventually his daughter Zhuri to eventually attend as well. According to everyone, this was the biggest thing that pointed to James signing with the Lakers next offseason but that does not make sense in the slightest.
It is pretty well known by now that James is “Just a Kid From Akron” and in Akron is where James went to school, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. If you ever happen to mosy on down to Highland Square (and before to get some amazing breakfast from Wally Waffle and some coffee from Angel Falls!) nearby is St. Vincent-St. Mary and it is pretty clear that James is alumni from there, as pictures of him are plastered all over the exterior of the building. James is a legend at the school, winning numerous accolades and titles and putting the program on the map. To this day, James still is always showing love to his alma-matter:
For James, it would probably mean the world to him to see his sons play for the Irish and carry on the family legacy that he built almost two decades ago.
Speaking of James’ children, one Lakers player has a notorious father who got in hot water with his family when he was discussing the King’s princes and his abilities as a father. Back in March of 2017, LaVar Ball had this to say about James’ sons on Chris Broussard’s podcast:
“You got LeBron, it’s gonna be so hard for his kids, cause they gonna look at them like ‘you gotta be just like your dad. And after a while that pressure starts sitting on you like ‘why do I gotta be like him, why can’t I just be me?’ And then they’re gonna be like ‘aw, you’re soft, you’re not that good.’ Because the expectation is very, very high.”
My sons are good, they’re great,” Ball said. “But let’s say I really excelled in football and made millions of millions of dollars. Do I spent that time with them now? — No, I have to worry about the offseason and I just buy you a trainer and hope that you turn out okay. Whereas the fact that I wasn’t all that, allows me to take the time to make my boys all that.”
According to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, James quickly followed up by simply saying:
“Keep my kids’ name out of your mouth. Keep my family out of your mouth. This is a dad to dad. It’s a problem now.”
This clearly established a beef between both the outspoken Ball and the greatest player of all time and that causes the James to LA hype train to lose quite a bit of steam. Recently, Ball has been quick to say that Lakers head coach Luke Walton does not have the respect of the team and general manager Magic Johnson should find a replacement for Ball. While the Lakers did damage control that Walton will still be the team’s coach and that his job is 100% safe, it certainly sets a precedent that neither the Lakers nor Lonzo Ball have told Lavar to just shut his trap at this point, as it just makes it look like he is some kind of puppet master.
So the question is why would James want to go to a team where a helicopter parent is constantly running his mouth and someone that he has said he has an open beef with? Yet another reason why the Cavs will see James wearing the Wine and Gold next year, no matter how often LaVar “speaks it into existence”.
Speaking of Ball, Walton, and Magic, the Lakers as a whole are a tragedy of an NBA franchise and the before-mentioned hype train is soon going to fall off the tracks due to this problem. With Walton, while he was a pleasant surprise during his Cavalier days, he has not been a great coach for the Lakers, a team he has spent the majority of his career with. Just like everyone else, however, Walton put the Ball’s in their place.
The thing is, Walton had an amazing stint as Steve Kerr’s lead assistant with the Warriors and in Kerr’s absence after a botched back surgery, Walton coached the Dubs to an overall record of 39-4, including sixteen straight wins to start the season. With such a solid sample size and the backing of Kerr, Walton seemed like a no-brainer of a hire for the Lakers. Instead, he has been nothing short of disappointing with an overall record of 47-87. Walton seems to have terrible rotations, a scheme that does not play to the strengths of the Lakers roster, and will probably never get the respect of James, something someone even as talented as David Blatt could not even do. Speaking of respect, Cavs head coach Ty Lue is one of the few coaches who does have James’, along with former Akron coach Keith Dambrot, Miami Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, and Dru Joyce, his former high school basketball coach. Walton cannot compare to Lue, who won a title in his first season as a head coach and also has the respect of the best player in the world.
To be fair though Walton does have to struggle with one of the youngest and least talented rosters in the NBA. The Lakers put all their eggs in the Lonzo Ball basket and so far, he has looked shaky throughout his rookie season. The Lakers are also led by players like Kyle Kuzma, Larry Nance Jr, and Brandon Ingram. None of these players really jump off the page talent-wise and with James entering the final years of his career he wants to win titles instead of having to play babysitter in Los Angeles. With Cleveland, James has a roster that has his fingerprints all over it with playing alongside good friends like Dwyane Wade, JR Smith, and Kevin Love. The way the Cavaliers are currently constructed, coupled with the current landscape of the Eastern Conference, he would be foolish to leave The Land as they are are always going to be a consistent threat for an NBA Championship year in and year out.
Finally, another thing that will drive away James is the fact that Magic Johnson is the general manager for the team. From the moment he became GM, Magic has made it clear that he wants to pair Lonzo Ball alongside both James and Oklahoma City Thunder forward Paul George. In order to do this, it has become clear that the team is looking to move on from players like Julius Randle and Jordan Clarkson and shed as much salary as possible by trying to get rid of Luol Deng’s contract as well. This desire to move players and shed salary to try to land superstars next offseason has been a huge problem for the Lakers, who clearly are being rattled by all the talk as the team had to have a pow wow to try and salvage what appears to be an already lost season.
Also, ever since Mike D’Antoni has been the head coach for the Lakers history seems to be cyclical with the team constantly striking out on free agent acquisitions or trying to be a serious threat to land a player. The Lakers no longer have the allure of being a “premier destination” and any player who wants to win, especially a player like James, will not want to go to a team that will be void of talent after alienating key players in the process. The Lakers will yet again strike out on both James and George and end up signing players like Nerlens Noel and Trevor Ariza to fat contracts.
Instead with the Cavs, James is quite literally King of the franchise as every single personnel decision made by the team is run by him.
When he first came back, James was vital in helping Kevin Love to agree to be traded to Cleveland for a package centered around Andrew Wiggins. He was the one who encouraged the team to trade for JR Smith, as he viewed his three-point shooting as a huge plus to the team. Finally, when Kyrie Irving asked to be traded, the team first turned to James and ran all trades by him until they were able to reach a deal with the Celtics. James would be foolish to leave the Cavs, where he can be a key part of every decision for the rest of his career in The Land where he would probably instead clash with strong personalities like Johnson and LaVar Ball.
Finally, the final major reason why James will not ever head to the Lakers and stay with the Cavs is because of how people would treat him.
In Cleveland, James is the most beloved athlete and icon the city has ever had. If he were to enter any restaurant, he would never have to pay for a meal or a drink ever again in his life. This is all because he simply delivered on a promise he made a long, long time ago by ending a championship drought that was longer than five decades. Beyond being loved, Northeast Ohio is home to James and as mentioned before he has deep roots in Akron, with St. Vincent-St. Mary and the fact that his charity opened a public school that will help at-risk kids in the Akron area, something he has always made one of his biggest priorities. He has also appeared in numerous commercials for The University of Akron, a college that he personally outfits each season despite only considering playing there:
Compare this to Los Angeles, and James will never see the amount of love and support compared to what he would see in Cleveland. In a city that is still obsessed with Kobe Bryant (Have you seen their City Edition uniforms?) James will always be in Bryant’s shadow, along with all the other players that have been a part of the Lakers’ storied history. If the team struggles out of the gate
or fails to win a title in their first season, James would be crucified by both the fans and the Los Angeles media. Compare this to Cleveland, a city that celebrated the freakin’ Browns going 0-16 in sub-zero weather, who would never play the blame game with James if we never win another title, and just go by the mantra of “There’s always next year”.
Even though this rumor has been murdered, put in a body bag, and placed in a coffin in gaudy Lakers colors, ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski, the biggest NBA insider out there, drove the final nail into said coffin:
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) February 6, 2018
While the Lakers and all of their fans were beyond crazy to think James would leave home to wear the purple and gold this season, you have to give them some credit for doubling down on the idiocy in thinking they can land Klay Thompson, Kawhi Leonard, or Jimmy Butler instead.
Heading into the upcoming off season, until LeBron James signs the dotted line, there is going to be reckless speculation about where he will sign. At this point, it is perfectly clear that it makes zero sense that he would sign with the Lakers. There is a multitude of factors that would keep James with the Cavs, and it is more than likely he will stay here for the remainder of his career. He made it fairly clear at the start of training camp this year that his intentions to stay in Cleveland have never changed so breath easy, Cavaliers Nation. Get ready for the last few years of King James and hopefully a few more titles along the way.