NBA superstar free agent LeBron James will announce the team he plans to sign with an hour-long televised special on ESPN Thursday night, July 8, according to reports.

Most fans are used to LeBron doing the unprecedented, so for him to announce his decision during primetime television isn’t much of a shock. This is the same player who had his high school games aired on national television and was regionally available on pay-per-view. How “King James” chooses to announce his decision is almost a yawn fest compared to the actual decision its self.

But if you pay enough attention to the free agent moves that’s already been made this week and combine that analysis with the goals that LeBron has long carried, you might not have to wait until Thursday night to know where the two-time reigning MVP will be playing next season.

Since the 2009-’10 season ended, the top suitors projected to gain James’ services – besides Cleveland – have been Chicago, Miami and New Jersey. These three teams were instant frontrunners simply because they had the most salary cap space to sign mega-star free agents. But now that the free agency market is officially open, all three teams appear to be losing leverage in the battle for LeBron.

Chicago initially had room to sign two players to maximum amount contracts, but according to ESPN.com, they already used half of that money to sign two-time all-star and Olympic gold medalist Carlos Boozer. They can still sign LeBron, but that would perhaps interfere with the legacy James wishes to create. James announced last season that he will be changing his jersey number from 23 to 6, a move that many experts believe is an attempt to remove himself from shadow of NBA legend and former Chicago Bulls savior Michael Jordan. James idolizes Jordan, but he also wants to become just as great of a global icon as MJ. That may not be possible if the world only perceives him as a “want-to-be Jordan.”

Miami also reserved a huge chunk of its cap space when they announced Wednesday morning that they will resign star Dwyane Wade, along with all-star forward Chris Bosh. Miami would still have enough space to add James to its roster if they trade Washington, D.C. native Michael Beasley, but that would leave them approximately $12,000 left in cap space to fill eight roster spots. Not to mention, playing with a fellow superstar like Wade may not be very enticing to legacy-seeking LeBron. Many fans already argue that Wade is the better player because he already has what James wants: a championship. Imagine what fans would say if LeBron’s championship rings came with help from the one player good enough to be his greatest opponent.

That leaves the New Jersey Nets, who also has enough cap room to sign two free agents at a maximum salary. With a young, talented core of players that includes Devin Harris, Brook Lopez and top-five draft pick Derrick Favors, James could come in and instantly turn the Nets into winners. The only problem with the Nets is its location. Would LeBron really leave Cleveland to go to play in Newark? Reports indicate that the Nets may soon be moving to Brooklyn, but if LeBron wants to play in New York, why not just join the Knicks, instead?

That very question has been in LeBron’s head for at least three years now. Why not join the New York Knicks? He’ll be residing in one of the most famous cities in the world and performing in one of the most famous arenas in the world, Madison Square Garden. Now that the Knicks have added star forward Amar’e Stoudemire, LeBron would finally have the running mate needed to possibly win a championship.

As for his global icon status, what better way to make the world recognize than bringing the first NBA title to New York since 1973? James in a Knicks uniform could immediately end New York’s nearly decade long losing curse, and transform them into consistent winners for the first time since the Patrick Ewing era.

Sounds almost like the perfect fit for a king. Or, maybe not. We’ll find out soon enough.

 

Perry Green

AFRO Sports Editor