John McGrath: Be an adult, LeBron, and make a decision already

Staff writerJuly 10, 2014 

Free Agency LeBron Basketball

LeBron James speaks on a cellphone during the LeBron James Skills Academy Thursday, July 10, 2014, in Las Vegas.

JOHN LOCHER — AP

Three words of advice for Nike ad-campaign icon LeBron James.

Just Do It.

A fourth word also comes to mind.

Please.

Sign your name on a contract. Don’t worry about reading the contract; that’s what agents are paid to do. Sign your name here and there, scribble your initials inside a few boxes, and call it good.

How does Miami sound? You won a couple of world championships with the Heat and came within three games of beating San Antonio last month in the NBA Finals. The Spurs were the better all-around team, sure, but any time you take the floor, you’re going to have at least an even chance to win.

Or would you prefer returning to the Cleveland area, where you were born and raised and still maintain a residence? Cavaliers fans are ready to forgive you for snubbing them four years ago, and salary cap space has been cleared so the Cavs can pay you more than $20 million a season.

On the chance you crave a substantial change of scenery, Dallas makes sense. Coach Rick Carlisle is among the best in the business, and I’ve got to think it’d be a blast to play for an owner like Mark Cuban.

If not Dallas, there’s a second basketball team in Los Angeles — nicknamed the “Lakers,” if memory serves — that nobody has talked about since the Clippers’ Donald Sterling gained notoriety as The Creepiest Person in the World.

Go West, LeBron. Or go Northeast. Go somewhere.

Why is this such a dilemma? It’s not as if you’re faced with the decision to move overseas, or join a new league, or answer the challenge of competing in a second pro sport, the way Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders once did.

No matter where you play, the ball won’t be changing its shape or size. The rim will be 10 feet from the floor. You’ll be rewarded two points for shots converted from inside the 3-point line, three points for shots converted behind the line and one point for free throws.

The regular-season schedule could vary depending on which conference you end up in, but the adjustment won’t be radical. You’ll compete in 41 road games and 41 home games. Off the court, you’ll enjoy the perks that superstar athletes with lucrative endorsement contracts have come to expect: limo service, a personal jet, access to a private dining room in every five-star restaurant.

You’re at the top of your game, dude. At the age of 29, you’re primed for the best years of your life. But instead of enjoying the ride, you’re turning it into a torturous obstacle course.

Americans with far fewer gifts than you — which is to say, with far more on the line — make more difficult choices all the time. Rent or buy? Used or new? Borrow for today, or save for tomorrow?

Adults ponder uncertain forks in the road and accept the consequences of turning left, into the cul-de-sac from hell, only to learn that the prudent decision was to turn right. Live and learn.

The NBA Finals concluded June 16. After the Heat’s elimination in Game 6, you were asked whether you planned to pursue free agency.

“You guys are trying to find answers,” you said. “I’m not going to give you one. I’m just not going to give it to you. When I get to that point, I’ll deal with it.”

The terse response to the inevitable question was understandable, but almost a month has passed, and the immediate destination of LeBron Raymone James is still a mystery.

This, in itself, isn’t a problem that bothers me. What bothers me is the story’s 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week domination of the sports news cycle, and its subplots.

Where will free agent Carmelo Anthony, most recently of the New York Knicks, relocate? For that matter, will he relocate from New York?

The dominoes are in position, rows and rows of them, and they’ll fall only when LeBron James determines where he’ll follow his bliss.

Here’s a thought, LeBron: Jot the names of five potential teams on separate scraps of paper, put them into a hat, close your eyes, toss ’em around, and take one.

If the field has been narrowed to merely two teams — say, Miami and Cleveland — flip a coin. If the result produces a momentary pang of regret, that’s your heart talking, and it demands you listen.

Whatever method you choose to join a team that will pay you millions of dollars for playing basketball, just do it.

Figure out where you’ll take the next step in your life, so the rest of us can get on with ours.

Please.

john.mcgrath@ thenewstribune.com

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