Rose More Relevant Than Jordan's History
Plenty of advice columns have already been written to help LeBron James settle on a home this summer.
Most of them can muster just one reason not to play in Chicago: The Shadow.
Actually, there are two reasons: The Shadow and The Statue. On second thought, he'll have to consider The Shadow, The Statue and the shadow cast by The Statue.
In other words, people are assuming James would face an unbearable burden of playing in the shadow of Michael Jordan by joining the Bulls this summer as a free agent.
The idea is ridiculous. For one thing, James was already playing in Jordan's shadow. So were Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade. Any great NBA player is going to be compared to the greatest of all time. The ZIP code doesn't make much difference.
In the course of NBA history, playing in the shadow of success has been a good thing. Remember, 19 of the last 30 championships have been won by the Lakers, Bulls and Celtics, with another Boston-L.A. Finals looming.
Magic Johnson somehow survived playing for the same team as Jerry West. Larry Bird didn't cower from the memory of Bill Russell. Yet, we're supposed to believe Jordan's shadow is going to suffocate LeBron.
Here are a couple of emotions far more relevant to James' decision: The burden of being Cleveland's sports savior and the heartbreak he would create by abandoning his hometown.
None of us can say for sure how much these issues will affect James' thinking. Walking around downtown Cleveland during the first-round playoff series against the Bulls, the reminders were everywhere. There were T-shirts for sale, a mural on the side of a building and signs in storefronts, all with the theme, "Please Stay, LeBron." One sign featured the outline of Ohio shedding tears at the thought of James leaving.
Granted, James spends no time walking around downtown Cleveland, but surely he knows a departure would be devastating to the sports community and could have a negative impact on the economy, with fewer people heading downtown for Cavs games. …