After Lebron James emerged from the most publicized summit conference since Nikita Khrushchev told Richard Nixon the USSR would bury the US it is clear he has transformed the entire system in the National Basketball Association. Back in the day when Red Auerbach was coaching the Boston Celtics to being the greatest team in the universe, the owners called the shots and the coaches certainly had major input.
But now a player has emerged with enough influence to not only win championships, but also to dictate to teams what their lineups will be.
Lebron James, who has led the Miami Heat to four straight NBA finals, sat down in Las Vegas yesterday with general manager Pat Riley and discussed whether or not Lebron would be returning to the Heat in the future. ESPN analyst Skip Bayless had theorized the deal was already done between Riley and King James before they talked in the gambling capital of the known world.
His counterpart Stephen A had disagreed saying he thought this was the first discussion they'd had on the subject. We'll never know who was right in the conversation between the two ESPN experts, but we do know Lebron walked away from Vegas with no deal done as the free agency clock keeps ticking.
Free agents may begin signing contracts today, Thursday, July 10, 2014 which may become a date as famous as the Battle of Hastings which was fought in 1066 and changed the course of English history forever.
Lebron wanted to talk with his family before signing a deal with anyone. Miami is the clear favorite, but it now appears Lebron's original team the Cleveland Cavaliers have come courting the megastar. Who? Why would the Cavs want Lebron back after he "dissed" them by "taking his talents to South Beach" four years ago and rejected his Ohio roots.
After all, it was Cleveland who selected Lebron No. 1 in the NBA draft. There was speculation Lebron might need an armed guard when he returned with his Heat teammates to play his former team in the Buckeye State.
When a person is the biggest star and the most influential person in the NBA, it does make sense the Cavs would want the Prodigal Son to come home. The increase in revenues and championships could be monumental for the city by the lake.
Whether Lebron chooses Miami or Cleveland or maybe even the Dallas Mavericks is not the biggest issue of the day. The fact the rest of the NBA is waiting on LeBron to make his decision before it reacts shows this man has created a seismic shift in the power balance of the professional basketball galaxy.
The axis of the earth no longer is dependent on the owners for which direction it tilts or how far. A player has emerged with such star power that he will decide which team for whom he shoots baskets. And he will evidently decide which other free agent players will come with him to his chosen team. Because not only are the other teams waiting on James' decision, so are the other players.
Back in the day when Bill Russell and Bob Cousy were winning NBA titles in Beantown, such a scenariio would be unthinkable. It's mind-boggling to even conceive of Russell going into Auerbach's office and saying, "I don't want to play for you anymore. I think I'm going to move to LA and play ball with Jerry West. See you later."
This situation reminds one of a Twilight Zone Episode in which everyone is immobilized as the audience waits for the grand climax. How will the show end?
One thing is clear, a player has seized that invisible thing called power in the NBA from the owners and now is calling the shots. The commissioner and the owners are supporting actors in this drama.
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