Should I Stay or Should I Go? Part 4.

Like it or not, LeBron James is the most talked about thing in the history of the NBA.  He’s a global icon and a hometown hero.  He’s the greatest basketball player in the league today but he has yet to win a championship and, ultimately, thrust himself into the same breath with Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

Among the free agent class this summer, LeBron James is the most sought after individual and has done his part to keep the spotlight on him – even throughout the NBA Finals.  He’s been linked to John Calipari and Chicago and Mark Cuban and Miami.  But when it’s all said and done, LeBron James will continue his reign over the city of Cleveland.

His Brand

The King has built his entire brand around being the hometown guy.  Many of his commercials consist of Coach Dru Joyce, Little Dru, Romeo, Sian, and Willie playing for the St. Williams-St Mary Irish in Akron, Ohio.  Numerous books have been published covering different stages of his life but each of them tie in the same theme – loyalty. 

After being named the 2009 Most Valuable Player, LeBron could have held his award ceremony anywhere he wanted.  But he chose to return “home” to his former high school, allowing only students and staff in to the ceremony all free of charge.  His second MVP ceremony was held in the arena at Akron University, where former high school coach Keith Dambrot leads the charge for the Zips. 

He has always praised the city of Cleveland, as well as the state of Ohio, and has remained an integral part of the Akron community.  For these reasons, the legacy of LeBron James would take an enormous hit if he were to part ways with the city while not fulfilling his promise to “win a championship for the city of Cleveland.”  He would be quitting on the Cavaliers and quitting on his home state – which is certainly not the light under with James wants to be seen.

After years and years of Cleveland sports stars jetting for bright lights and more money, loyalty would cement the King’s legacy in the state of Ohio as a legend.  If he goes against the character that he’s portrayed his entire career and is not the loyal, hometown hero we all thought he was, then who is LeBron James?

His Home

LeBron has grown up in or around Cleveland his entire life.  It is the only place he has ever been able to call home and, after listening to LeBron for seven years, it’s the only place that he ever wants to call home.  He is an active member of the Akron community and still makes very frequent visits to his former high school.  He is adored by the city, partly because of the loyalty and the high character he has portrayed over his first seven seasons in the league.

If he remains, he will forever be mentioned in the same breath as Jim Brown, Cleveland Brown great who remained loyal to the city throughout his entire career.  If he leaves Cleveland behind now, he joins a hated class of athletes – such as Manny Ramirez and David Justice – who have bolted the city for brighter lights and higher stacks of cash.  And he will be hated by a vast majority of people in his home state.  Is that what LeBron James wants at this stage in his career?

His Career

The city of Cleveland has not won a championship in more than 45 years and, after this year, many people believe it may very well be another 45 years before it happens.  LeBron James and his team of assembled all-stars couldn’t muster up an NBA Championship this season so many people believe LeBron will bolt for a city more accustomed to success.  New York? Chicago? 

If LeBron takes the bright lights route and heads for New York, he will not be part of a championship caliber team for at least a few more years.  He is not willing to spend more years in the prime of his career playing for a team that cannot contest for a championship.  And, as good as Chicago may be with him in town, he will always play in the shadow of Michael Jordan.  Jordan is the face of the Chicago Bulls and, unless LeBron steps in and wins about ten championships, that will not change.

He wants to do something that no one has ever done before.  You tell me the last hometown hero that brought his city a championship after a 45 year drought – that is something no one has ever done before.

He owns the city of Cleveland and is the reason for its steady economy.  Dan Gilbert has proven that he is more than willing to spend money on high caliber players that portray similar character to that of his young superstar.  He went out and got Shaquille O’Neal in the offseason and acquired Antawn Jamison via trade prior to the deadline.  And he has always pampered his young King with weekend retreats to his estate, where LeBron was able to gather with names such as Warren Buffet and learn more about the function of business.

LeBron is an athlete and an entertainer.  But, above all, LeBron is a businessman.  It seems rather obvious that his brand and his business would grow if he headed for New York.  But it would falter elsewhere.

If he turns his back on the only place that he has ever called home, there will likely be strong repercussions that can only hurt his business.  So is a shift in scenery a good move for the King?

In seven years, LeBron has painted this picture of himself with undeniable charisma, unquestionable character and his seemingly flawless personality.  But if he leaves Cleveland now, he’s a quitter and a villain to the city.

That’s why he won’t.  LeBron James will be in a Cavaliers uniform next year because that is what’s best for his brand, his family and his career.  He doesn’t need Cleveland, per say.  But Cleveland is a big part of LeBron James.  Without Cleveland, without his loyalty, and without his character, what does LeBron James have?  Who is he, really?

He is a Cavalier.  He is number six.  And he is King James.

Will LeBron James be in a Cavaliers uniform next season?customer surveys

Tags: Antawn Jamison Cavaliers Cavs Celtics Cleveland Cleveland Cavaliers KJG Lebron Lebron James Mavs Michael Jordan Mike Brown MVP NBA Shaq Shaquille O'neal Trade Witness

  • Nicotime

    Cleveland fans may only be able to blame themselves if the guy leaves. You’d deserve it too. I remember when Kobe was a free agent and did his “tour” of other teams to see what’s out there. LIKE EVERY OTHER NBA STAR. SMH. I don’t remember L.A. fans saying he would be a traitor or villain if he leaves, or that he was now somehow a “spoiled punk athlete”. If they did, I imagine he would have signed somewhere else. Like LeBron will. This a business. You got lucky in the NBA lottery. You don’t own LeBron. And he doesn’t owe you jack.

  • Cody Norman

    We’d only have ourselves to blame, huh..? Kobe’s situation was completely different than LeBron’s. Kobe is not from LA. He delivered a championship in his first few years in the league; thus, he had nothing left to prove to that franchise. LA fans had something to thank him for.

    LeBron, on the other hand, would be a liar, a traitor and a quitter if he left: fact. On numerous occasions, LeBron has been quoted as saying, “I have one goal and that is to win a championship for the city of Cleveland. And I will not stop until I reach that goal.” If he stops now, that does make him a liar whether you agree with me or not Nico.

    This isn’t about owning LeBron. This is about LeBron being loyal. And it’s about LeBron holding true to the persona that he has built for himself over the last seven seasons.

  • http://ESPN Walker1

    In my opinion I feel like LeBron should stay in Cleveland since he has unfinished business there. I got it that he and his teammates have yet to win a championship title but this is his home and he has already created something that Cleveland has never had. Even if he went to another team, and won a championship title, I don’t feel it would mean as much compared to him winning one in Cleveland for the first time. Especially, with the work that he has already put in with the CAVs. Sometimes you have to put in more work than others, but the fruit of it all will mean much more. In addition, the Cleveland fans will hang in there with him….now thats what I would do if I had unfinished business and in LeBrons position. Did I mention the loyalty of his fan base in Cleveland…plus he already has the title “KING”. Jordan stuck it out with the Bulls through it all, if he could do it so can LeBron.

  • Cody Norman

    Well said Walker. There is definitely some unfinished business for LeBron & Co. in the city of Cleveland. We all thought this was going to be the year but nobody has turned their back on the franchise yet. It would certainly suit him well to return to his home and accomplish something that has never been done before.

  • Dave Adkins

    Comparing LeBron to Manny Ramirez & David Justice is dumb. First of all, with baseball, we have all come to know that free agency is all about the dollar in baseball. There isn’t a Larry Bird Exemption.Secondly, David Justice was traded by us to the Yankees. He also was not the grand superstar LeBron is. Manny isn’t even from this country, let alone Cleveland area and Justice is from Cincinatti. There really isn’t a baseball exampl eof hometown boy plays and stays for the hometown team.
    Good series, but better examples and factual info would be better used.

  • Cody Norman

    Dave- Thanks for writing in. You are right about both Manny Ramirez and David Justice. I didn’t intend to mislead anyone regarding the storyline behind both of those guys leaving. The main idea there was that both of those guys are/were hated by Clevelanders for turning their back on the city and leaving town for more money. Carlos Boozer, perhaps, would be the best example.