And so life goes on. LeBron James did not choose New York. For Knick fans it shouldn’t come as a surprise. There was only a slim chance that LeBron was coming to New York anyway. It would have been great for Knick fans to instantly bring back the excitement of the 70s and 90s. James would have been hailed as a hero. Would have been one of us. Would have been the biggest sports star in the biggest metropolis. Would have been the King of New York. But that didn’t appeal to LeBron, and hence made his decision to go elsewhere.
In the past I was down on the move Donnie Walsh made to trade Jeffries at the cost of Hill & some draft picks. Maybe he had the option of moving Jeffries earlier (as was rumored to Sacramento), and maybe he could have still made the deal with the Rockets without mortgaging so much. But in the end, he did what most fans wish their GMs would do more often: take a chance at greatness. A few hours ago I mocked Orlando for playing it safe and signing Chris Duhon. Without putting everything in the middle and rolling the dice, Walsh and the Knicks didn’t stand a chance. Freeing up that extra space and bringing Amar’e to New York was his one slim window to land James. It didn’t work, but it was a medium cost – high reward risk. And I have to hand it to Walsh for having the guts to try it.
As for LeBron, by leaving Cleveland and toying with New York and Chicago, he’s broken a lot of hearts along the way. He’ll team up with Wade and Bosh, in a quest for that elusive title. Had a championship not been so elusive, perhaps LeBron’s thirst would not have been so great. But now the bar is set higher for James. Unlike Walsh’s moves, this is a low reward move for James. For LeBron’s to be considered among the greats, how many titles must he win in the next 5 years? In an absurd way, if he only manages one, that could be viewed as failure. Even if he succeeds in multiple championships, people will question if he has the leadership abilities to do it on his own? He’s likely to have a handful of jewelry, but these rings may come at the cost of his legacy.
Quick Thoughts (11pm EDT, Crockett): At the risk of diluting Mike’s excellent post, but wanting to keep the post-decision comments in one place, I’ll keep this short. I’m ambivalent, but I won’t kill LeBron for making this decision. As Mike says above, LeBron was always a gamble. Still, I agree with Jeff Van Gundy who spoke on ESPN just before 11pm EDT. These three making a “pact” to play together messes with my sense of fair play and competition. Suffice it to say that on playground courts across America folks might frown on the three clear-cut best guys leaving their respective teams to play together. But, whatever. Walsh would have done it himself if he could have.
As for the Knicks moving forward, this is a classic framing problem. Do you look at what NY has or what it does not? Missing out on LeBron was going to be a bitter pill no matter what. Nevertheless, I think it’s safe to say that even though the Knicks may not be championship contenders–hardly guaranteed a playoff berth–they are officially out of the wilderness. Amar’e is an excellent player in his prime. The David Lee S&T haul includes a promising young forward in Anthony Randolph. And, the Knicks have the flexibility to improve markedly without having to do anything dumb. For the first time in a long time NY can go out, compete, and let the chips fall where they may. Hallelujah.