Does LeBron James Feel a Sense of Urgency?

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Published: May 10, 2010

There’s a sense of urgency in Cleveland this year.  The city knows this is the best chance they’ve had at a title in a looooong time.  Coach Mike Brown, who has taken a tremendous amount of criticism, needs a title to validate his career.  General Manager Danny Ferry needs to win this year because his team, particularly its older big men, is constructed to win now around a superstar. A superstar that famously may not be there next year.

There may be a fly in that championship ointment, though.  There is one person in Cleveland who doesn’t have a reason to feel the same sort of urgency:  LeBron James. 

You see, LeBron James’s salary isn’t going to be affected by a championship.  His status as the best player in the game isn’t going to be affected by a championship.  He’s not going to earn some special distinction as the youngest primary cog to win a championship, and he’s also only 25 years old.  He’s got another 10 years in the league playing at a high level.  He probably doesn’t feel he has to win right now.

On top of all that, it seems to me there is a valid reason why LeBron would NOT want to win a championship this season:  If he wins it all, his options this summer become limited.  Now, that may seem counter-intuitive, since winners typically have their stock improve, but think about it; if LeBron  wins a championship and then immediately signs with another team, there goes his primary excuse for leaving.  He can no longer claim that he just “wants to win”, and if he wins it all and then leaves, he’ll instead draw all kinds of ire, and be labeled a mercenary.  That’s bad, because, you see, LeBron James is on a quest and that quest is not purely winning championships.  He wants to become a ‘global icon’.  In fact, he has an entire team of advisors that jealously guard his reputation, pushing him towards that end.  A label of mercenary would be harmful to that goal.

So that’s LeBron’s situation.  He’s the best player in the NBA, wallowing in all the attention about his upcoming free agency – but he’s faced with the glorious summer and all it’s possibilities being over before it begins.   So I wonder – if his plan includes a move to another city, or even flirting with that notion – is there some part of his subconscious doesn’t want him to push to win this season?  Is that why we haven’t seen the totally dominant LeBron of past playoffs?

Oh, and does that explain the stupid elbow thing?

(Don’t worry guys, I’ll get back to writing about the Hornets soon.)

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