Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why LeBron should go to New York

The NBA's renaissance in the 80s and 90s was fueled by likable characters and media creations, like Bird, Magic and Jordan. This has been well documented.

This left them vulnerable when those stars faded away and the league's image plummeted, culminating with the infamous Brawl at the Palace between the Pacers and Pistons.

Luckily for David Stern, an influx of young talent has become to filter into the league. Most of the stars, like Dwight Howard, Chris Bosh and Chris Paul are equal parts talented and likable. They avoid trouble and seem to be homebodies and gym rats. Others, like Carmelo Anthony have come across some trouble, but not anything extremely damaging.

Yet, the NBA seems to be putting most of its eggs in the basket which is King James. LeBron has avoided trouble too, save for some speeding tickets, is one of the three or four best players in the league and is backed by shoe giant Nike. Plus, he's going to be this year's league MVP by default (sort of like Kobe last year).

However, LeBron's potential as an anti-hero is more intriguing to me. For starters, he's pretty much a jerk. This year alone, he's waxed poetically about his desire to play in New York, dissed Charles Barkley for crticizing him about it, cut staff from one of his philanthropic organizations and used the phrase "crab dribble" while whining about getting a traveling call against him in a play where he clearly took at least 3 steps.

This is why LeBron should go to New York.

In New York, he'll get the A-Rod treatment: major contract, major endorsements, major scruitiny and hate from everyone else in the country. In New York, he'll get the intense media pressure and harsh fans that an arrogant guy like him deserves.

Additionally, the league will be forced to stop trying to make us love him the same way we did Jordan. What's the point? People tune in just as much, if not more, to see the villain go down as they do to watch the hero triumph over evil.

Imagine LeBron's Knicks in a few years in the Eastern Conference finals against Dwight Howard's Magic, or (better yet for the NBA) the Celtics Big Three going for a final championship run.

As good as a potential 7 game series between the Cavs and Celtics this year seems, the problem the league will have will be finding the bad guy. While James is the obvious choice, do they want to go that route? Probably not.

That's too bad, because out of all the guys the media wants us to hate, he's the big name that deserves to be booed the most.

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