Would New York put LeBron James on Kobe Bryant’s level?
41 games per season in Madison Square Gardens, basketball’s great Mecca. Praise as the white knight of the New York Knicks. And according to Walt Clyde Frazier, a former Knicks legend and the team’s play-by-play broadcaster, The Five Burroughs would provide a stage grand enough to become Kobe Bryant’s equal …
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My Quick Take: It sounds enticing.
41 games per season in Madison Square Gardens, basketball’s great Mecca. Praise as the white knight of the New York Knicks. And according to Walt Clyde Frazier, a former Knicks legend and the team’s play-by-play broadcaster, The Five Burroughs would provide a stage grand enough to become Kobe Bryant’s equal.
Only in New York, New York, right? Well, maybe.
The NYC is unique, especially with regard to market size. But James can achieve something similar re-upping with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
For instance, like Cablevision, the conglomerate who owns the Knicks, Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert has deep pockets and is willing to exceed the salary cap each year if it means winning an NBA championship.
Under Gilbert’s watch, GM Danny Ferry has the green light to make high profile and expensive trades. Instead of buying out Ben Wallace’s contract and saving the cap space, the former defensive star was traded with Sasha Pavlovic to the cost-conscious Phoenix Suns in exchange for Shaquille O’Neal and his $20 million contract.
Sure, righting a classic franchise like the Knicks would be appealing. And James, if he could lead the club to a championship, would erase the demons of the Isiah Thomas era and the ghosts of John Starks’ struggles in the NBA Finals.
Winning with the Cavaliers would also be special. An Akron native, Ohio is James’ home state; Cleveland his home team. Hoisting the Larry O’Brien championship in Quicken Loans Arena would kill the curse of Michael Jordan’s double clutch winner over Craig Ehlo and ease the failures of those promising squads of the early nineteen-nineties.
And flaws exist with Frazier’s statement that New York would put James on par with Bryant. It can be argued James is already Bryant’s equal and in today’s internet era, size of city matters less, especially with the league’s focus on international markets.
In this respect, Cleveland edges New York. Last year, Gilbert sold a minority stake in the team to a group of Chinese investors, who leverage famous American brands – exactly like James and the Cavaliers – in China.
This is significant. Tracy McGrady, the former Houston Rockets star and teammate of Chinese sensation Yao Ming, has received enough support from Chinese fans to be voted a starter at the NBA All-Star game, despite barely playing and recently cutting ties with the club.
What could Chinese investors who specialize in profiting off American companies and stars do for James in China? Well, he could perhaps rival Yao. Or, if Yao retires because of injuries, surpass him. The possibilities are endless.
New York could do wonders for James, but so could staying in Cleveland long-term.
Does James need New York to be Bryant’s equal? Get at us with thoughts in the comment below and follow Oly at HoopsVibe the Blog or Twitter. Photo courtesy of wikipedia.