Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Updated: February 18, 10:38 AM ET
Something for LeBron to think about
By Arash Markazi
I know you said you wouldn't talk about next season until this season was over, but I'm not asking you to say anything. All I want you to do is think about it and get back to me (or someone with far more pull). Sure, this might end up being as fruitful as giving an attractive woman my number at a club and hoping she'll call me back, but it's worth a shot.
You need to sign with the Clippers.
OK, you can stop laughing now. You can also tell your boys Maverick, Rich and Randy to stop rolling around the floor. I get it. It's a long shot. About as much of a long shot as a kid from Akron, Ohio, becoming the biggest name in the sports world and making the Cavaliers a household name.
Now is not the time for you to be predictable or complacent. This is your time to shake the sports landscape and change the way you and your future team is viewed.
The way I see it, you have three possible destinations, Cleveland, New York and Los Angeles.
No matter what happens this season with the Cavs it's time for you to leave Cleveland. No offense, but you and your boys are starting to remind me of a more affluent version of the high school clique that's still living in the same town six years after graduation. It's time for you to move on and leave the nest. Akron will always be your hometown, but Ohio doesn't need to be your home right now.
Now everyone thinks you're going to New York, but I don't see it. I know it's the big city of dreams, but as Grandmaster Flash once said, "Everything in New York ain't always what it seems." New York is old-school. Your yearning to play at Madison Square Garden is like my yearning for a table at Sardi's. It's cool for talking about the old days with the retired crowd, but I picture you as trying to carve out your own niche instead of being another footnote for an already established franchise.
You need to come to Los Angeles. There's no reason to continue playing in 25-degree weather and snowstorms when the climate in Los Angeles is a consistent 75 degrees and sunny. You and your crew would become the real-life version of "Entourage" in a city that gravitates toward superstars like no other.
I know what you're thinking. "Yeah, that's all well and good, but we're talking about the Clippers here. Nobody wants to play for the Clippers."
Well, nobody wanted to play for the Clippers until you changed the game. Listen, Orlando was a dump until Walt Disney built his kingdom in the swamps. The Bulls were a bottom-tier franchise before Michael Jordan was drafted by Chicago. And how many blue-chip basketball players do you think went to Duke before Mike Krzyzewski took that job?
Playing for the Clippers could be your blank canvas, LeBron. This team is what you want to make of it. If you sign with the Clippers, everyone will think you are as crazy as Bill Gates when he dropped out of college and invested everything he had in something called computers. If you want to truly establish your place in sports history you will set out to do the impossible: Make the Clippers relevant -- better yet, make the Clippers champions.
As you enter your prime and turn the Clippers around, your rival down the hallway, Kobe Bryant, will be entering the twilight of his career and will only be able to sit and watch while you convert fair-weather Lakers fans wearing No. 24 jerseys into Clippers fans wearing No. 23 jerseys. This will not only be your town, but you will be able to exploit it more than Bryant ever has, by making movies, hosting award shows and starring in commercials. It's something you've dabbled in while in Cleveland but could thrive in with Hollywood serving as your backdrop.
While you may be focused on this season and your newest acquisition, Antawn Jamison, who came to you thanks in large part to the Clippers, the Clippers are already making plans for you next season. With the moves they made before the trade deadline the Clippers put themselves in a position to offer you a contract worth about $100 million over five years, which is the same deal you'd get from any team outside of Cleveland. Not only that, but with Mike Dunleavy stepping down as head coach and staying on as the general manager, you could call the shots.
You could pick your next coach. You could pick the free agents with whom you want to play. Shoot, the Clippers are probably so desperate to sign you and change their image they'd be willing to give you a blank sheet of paper and a box of markers and allow you to draw up a new logo and uniforms. Like I said, this is a blank canvas.
The beauty of signing with the Clippers is you're not jumping on the Titanic, as some would have you believe. You'd be signing with a team on which you'd be surrounded by Chris Kaman, Baron Davis, Eric Gordon and Blake Griffin on Opening Day. It's not as dire as you'd think. If you can get the best record in the league with Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Anderson Varejao, Delonte West and Mo Williams in the starting lineup with you, anything is possible.
No one thinks you'll sign with the Clippers. Everyone thinks it will be impossible to turn around the franchise, but that's exactly why you should do it. You wouldn't just be known as the greatest basketball player of your generation but a miracle worker as well. And best of all you'd be doing it in Hollywood, where you can be the leading man of your own fairy-tale story when it's all said and done.
Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.