By: Jon Brodnax
It's as pure a basketball city as it gets. The Yankees, Mets, Jets and Giants go on a losing streak and you can find tickets like finding a hipster on the L line. On the other hand, Knicks seats are ALWAYS a hot commodity. Which is a product of NYC truly being "the Mecca of basketball." Lebron could win 20 games every year he's there and you would still see a marketing and cultural buzz like never before, and just when you thought those couldn't get any bigger. Even bigger than the buzz that came from "taking [his] talents to South Beach" and the marketing that comes from being Nike's "billion-dollar athlete" would be taken to unforeseen heights if you throw in true "King of New York" status (sorry, Bernard King). But what are the factors?
"Why the hell not?! I can't turn this historic franchise around? Fahgetaboutit!"
Lebron (and Nike) know better than anyone just how much record-setting money this move would generate, regardless of on-court success. And if the stars aligned and they did compete for titles, the profit would be even more exponential.
Unless he fails to make the playoffs with the Knicks year after year, this move could only help his legend. Taking them to the Eastern Conference Finals (ECF) and losing would still be met with great praise unlike doing the same thing with Cleveland. Leading a Knicks team to the finals would rightfully take away the "King of New York" honor from Patrick Ewing and give it to him. And if he won one of them joints??? FAHGETABOUTIT!! Mayor (Bill) De Blasio might as well turn over his keys and go back to hanging out with the Goodfellas wannabes down in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Winning one in New York is like winning two or three in Cleveland and he knows this.
Throughout his career, he acknowledged Madison Square Garden (MSG) as his "favorite place to play."
Paul George and/or Chris Paul sign with Knicks. If they get both, it's a done deal. I feel that just Paul George signing in NY would draw Lebron in more than just Chris Paul, as the Knicks have a lot of young talent they're still trying to foster at the point guard spot.
Kristaps Porzingis is undeniably healthy and ready for a next season.
"Nah homie, miss me with that mess!"
When Kevin Durant was shopping around during free agency a few years ago and Steve Kerr was looking for a new job, respectively, THEY WOULDN'T EVEN TAKE A MEETING with the Knicks, not one... We all know it's likely the biggest organizational joke in the league but just what is going on with that front office?
The immensely incompetent James Dolan is the of "O'Doyle Rules" of NBA owners. Well, a dweeby version. His father handed him a historic franchise he was in no way ready to own and operate and his relentless ego has solidified him as nothing more than a detriment to the franchise. "Beginner’s mind," "coachability," "learn to fail or fail to learn," however you wanna put it, James Dolan ain't got it.
Like a quarterback getting drafted by the Cleveland Browns, there's just this perpetual vibe around the league that the Knicks are the soul-crushing stop where stars get lured in and slowly lose their competitive. As if no extra effort, pay cut, or act of "Trusting the Process" is ever worth it when you play for the Knicks.
They don’t even treat their legends well. Need I say more than Charles Oakley: For 10 years, with pride, every damn night, this dude sacrificed his body, protecting the paint during the most physical era the NBA will ever see. And Dolan, clearly, could give a damn.
Kawhi Lenord and/or Paul George sign with the Lakers: A move like this, plus adding Lebron, would put the Lakers in "win now" status and would make the Knicks an afterthought. However, given the pictures of Coach Pop's recent visit to South California and the blatant, "I'm gonna keep it real with ya, chief" conversation they had, I think all the Spurs drama is just hype and Kawhi will be back next year. Lebron and Pop have developed a genuine relationship in recent years and Lebron is going to meet with the Spurs which leads to my next thought.
Does Lebron want to win now or later? Does Lebron care more about winning a title in a few years or getting back (and continuing his absurd streak) to the Finals next year? Even if Paul George and some other considerable talent signed with New York as well, it’s a near-certainty that they're still going to have at least one "rebuilding year." While going to the Rockets (if Chris Paul returns), the Spurs (If Kawhi Lenord returns), the 76ers or just simply staying in Cleveland and adding one more stud (a Kyrie-esque player) would put him in an immediate championship contending position.
An asshat like Enes Kanter is the one "recruiting" Lebron to the Knicks. The reality is that he ain't recruiting jack shit and if Lebron wanted he could pay Kanter to press his suit shorts and carry that $41,000 man-purse around for him. But, it would be nice if there really was a respectable player "recruiting" Lebron and trying to reel him in.
The Porzingis injury is worse than we had hoped for and he is in fact going to sit out next year: Sorry Knickerbocker fans, Lebron ain't coming.
So, what do I think is going to happen?
Do a quick side-by-side comparison of those bullet points and it should be obvious which direction I think the scales will tip. I just feel that there are too many unpredictable factors at play. Unpredictable unless Lebron, Paul George, Chris Paul, Kawhi, etc. do some serious behind the scenes scheming about linking up, which is unlikely. Also, I feel that the desire to guarantee being in championship contention for next year combined with the reality of who James Dolan is, will ultimately keep Lebron out of Gotham City.
What do I think would happen if he did sign?
The cheesy videos of Lebron hanging out at Rucker and taking the train like your everyday average joe would be endless—and ya know what? They wouldn't bother me. As much as he would have capitalism sucking at his (and Nike's) teat, Lebron would bring inspiration and liveliness to a culture of youth that could use hope more than just about anyone. As to what I think would happen on the court? We would see 3-4 years of exciting basketball, involving a dynamic three-headed monster of Lebron, Porzingis and someone else. But, a title? Nah. The Finals? Maybe. Most likely, by the end of his New York stay Lebron would have one or two Eastern Conference Finals appearances but the combination of talent, youth, energy and culture that the Celtics, 76ers and Raptors possess would be too much to compete with.
And this is coming from a Spurs/Nets fan, mind you. I would want nothing but success for Lebron because that would equate to nothing but success for The City. The "oh, come on, it's just basketball, not everyone likes basketball" argument wouldn't hold up in that city, not with the kind of buzz a successful Lebron-led Kicks team would generate. People would be sliding into that ticket office like when Kramer needs to borrow Dijon from Jerry. I've even been dubbed a "Lebron hater" in the past, but if he played in New York, I would wish him championship after championship. He would provide much-needed optimism and to the youth and, in a certain way, unite New Yorkers like never before. The feeling among fans would be that regardless of your race, class or status: Welcome to Knicks Nation.