Tale Of The Tape: LeBron Staying In Miami Vs. Going Anywhere Else

Even though the NBA Finals are over there is still plenty of drama and intrigue surrounding LeBron James and the Miami Heat.  When James signed with the Heat back in 2010 he and Miami agreed upon a contract that gives him the option to opt out and become a free agent this summer.   Now the question is whether LeBron will remain with the Heat and continue to build his legacy in Miami or if he will want to move on to another team and contend for a championship with a different group of players.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at his possible options and see how they compare to staying in Miami.

Staying In Miami
Anywhere Else
The American Airlines Arenas sits a top the Miami night skyline before Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.(Source: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
As Brutally Cold Winter Drags On, 80 Percent Of Lake Michigan Frozen
The American Airlines Arenas sits a top the Miami night skyline before Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.(Source: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Best Chance Of Winning
Winner The Heat organization has already shown that they will build a title contending team around LeBron. The Big Three create a foundation that’s easy to build on and we’ve seen that players will often take less money to join the Heat because they know that Miami is going to contend for a championship every season. When you have Pat Riley at the helm of a franchise that has shown year in and year out that it’ll do whatever it takes to become a champion, it’s hard to find a team that can match the kind of assurance that Miami can provide.
There are only a couple teams that can LeBron can go to that will give him a chance to contend right away, and even then those teams will have to do some work in order to financially compensate James and the rest of their respective rosters. Teams like the Houston Rockets and Los Angeles Clippers come to mind as teams that could become title contenders by adding James but both would have to do some maneuvering in order to sign him and keep the players that would make it a destination worth leaving Miami for.
Local Ties
LeBron and his family have been living in South Florida since he took his talents to South Beach back in 2010. In the time that he’s lived there he has immersed himself in the community, supporting several charities and even helping his wife open up a business, a juice bar called The Juice Spot. He continues to work with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, has held a charity bike-a-thon and has even gotten involved with the charity of Gabrielle Union, the wife of teammate Dwyane Wade.
Winner No local ties run deeper for LeBron then in his home state of Ohio. He was born and raised in Akron and played his high school basketball at local St. Vincent-St. Mary High School. He was voted Ohio’s Mr. Basketball during his senior year and skipped college to go straight to the NBA, where he was drafted by his home state team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. It seemed like a storybook ending for the hometown kid but we all know how that ended. With much of his family and friends still living in Ohio, it makes sense that James may someday like to return to Cleveland.
Winner For a superstar celebrity with seemingly endless recourses it’s hard to pick a better place to live than Miami. Basketball is a sport that plays most of its season during the winter and knowing that whenever you return home from a road trip there will be blue skies and warm weather waiting for you, especially for someone who grew up in a cold and dreary place, it must be a very nice feeling. There aren’t many NBA cities where you can ride a bike from home to the arena regardless of what time of year it is and that is something that LeBron has done on several occasions.
Of the possible landing spots for LeBron outside of Miami, the most appealing ones have got to be New York and Los Angeles. Nothing against Cleveland, Chicago or Houston but it’s hard to imagine a wealthy athlete choosing any of those towns over New York or L.A. Make no mistake, New York is one of the more fun and unique places to live as you basically can have the world at your fingertips with so many diverse neighborhoods and cultural activities. In Los Angeles James can still enjoy somewhat nice weather and there are plenty of his celebrity friends to hang out with
The interesting thing about staying in Miami is that LeBron could get paid more to stay there then if he goes anywhere else, but if he chooses to remain with the Heat it’s likely that it won’t be for the maximum amount that he could potentially earn. James has already taken less money to help Miami build a championship team once before and odds are that if he stays there he will do it for a discount once again. If LeBron is just looking for a giant payday than the Heat can certainly provide that, though it would contradict everything that they have been about since his arrival. Whatever he makes, Florida having no state income tax is always a nice bonus.
Winner You better believe that if LeBron does opt out and decide to test the waters of free agency there will be teams lining up to throw huge amounts of money at him. There is no doubt that James is the best player in the world and in the prime of his career so if money is a factor in his decision it will be quite interesting to see what kind of offers are throw his way. If he does take his talents elsewhere then it’s a safe bet that he’ll be making more money at his new destination then if he keeps building in Miami.
Winner We all remember the speech that LeBron gave to Heat fans upon his arrival in Miami. “Not one, not two, not three, not four…” and so on. He and his Big Three buddies have said on multiple occasions that they want to build their own legacy similar to what Jordan did with the Bulls or what Magic did with the Lakers. If that still rings true then it’s hard to imagine James going anywhere else. The Miami Heat has a great owner in Micky Arison who has proven that he is not only dedicated to having a winning team but also to creating one of the classiest and all-around best franchises to work for in all of sports. Combine that with Pat Riley being at the helm of all basketball decisions and you can see why maintaining a winning legacy in Miami is almost a certainty.
When talking about a legacy the conversation always goes back to Cleveland. Returning home to the team that he once scorned would go a long way in ensuring that James is always remembered as not only one of the best basketball players to ever lace up a pair of sneakers but also as someone who didn’t forget where he came from. It would be a big sacrifice as far as winning goes so it all comes down to what kind of legacy LeBron wants to leave behind. As for the non-Cleveland destinations, James could certainly leave Miami and chase championships with other great teams like Houston or Chicago or Los Angeles but if he does, what kind of legacy would that be?

The Winner Is

The American Airlines Arenas sits a top the Miami night skyline before Game Five of the Eastern Conference Semifinals between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat in the 2011 NBA Playoffs on May 11, 2011 at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida.(Source: Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Winner Staying In Miami
3 out of 5

At the end of the day it just makes too much sense for LeBron to stay in Miami. There is no better team for him to be on that will keep him in championship contention year in and year out, and it’s a great place to live that he and his family are very happily enjoying. Take into account that he’s already made millions upon millions between his basketball career, his endorsements and his investments (James recently made $30 million when Apple bought Beats headphones for $3 billion) and it’s hard to find a good reason for LeBron to play anywhere other than Miami.


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