Looking back at LeBron’s options
When the summer of 2010 approached, LeBron’s two best options for dethroning Kobe Bryant were the Bulls and the Heat. While the Bulls had a budding superstar, a great young team, and cap space for two max players, the fit wasn’t right.
First, Chicago is a little too close to LeBron’s hometown team in Cleveland. Second, their best player, Derrick Rose, didn’t want to share the spotlight with him. Third, Chris Bosh desperately wanted to go to Miami after spending seven seasons in Toronto. At the time, it was almost a foregone conclusion that Chris Bosh was headed to Miami.
Even Brian Colangelo, the Raptor GM while Bosh was in Toronto came on the radio in Miami before a regular-season game and told Jorge Sedano, now at ESPN, that he was willing to work with the Heat if Bosh wanted to sign with them.
Lastly, Chicago ownership had earned a bad reputation for being cheap and ungrateful. LeBron didn’t want to chase Jordan in a market that was loyal to his Airness and with a star that didn’t want to play with him, while being dependent on a notoriously cheap owner.
The Miami Heat, on the other hand, offered everything he wanted: a star that was recruiting him hard, an organization with a great reputation, and a city that is attractive to free agents. All that was missing was the supporting cast.
It also can’t be overlooked how all of the players that came together for that Miami Heat super-team took discounts to make it happen. The five players that made up the closing unit all took below-market deals. Do you really think Mike Miller decided to join the Heat at a discounted rate without knowing if LeBron James was coming?
Miami was the place to be and it didn’t matter how the presentation from James Dolan and the Knicks looked during their pitch to LeBron, he wasn’t going to sign with them.
Why is Bill Simmons bringing this up anyway?
On the tenth anniversary of “The Decision,” Bill Simmons said LeBron James’ first choice was to play in New York.
While we know LeBron loves playing at Madison Square Garden, and in an ideal situation could have wanted to call the arena his home court, it’s clear that the Knicks were far from the front-runners to land his services back in 2010.
So why does Simmons bring it up? It probably has to do with his fandom of the Boston Celtics.
Simmons has every right to be proud of his favorite team. In fact, I hold Boston up as the model for how to orchestrate a near-perfect rebuild. They are the example the Knicks should follow. They dumped all their aging players in Brooklyn. Then they made the Nets their farm system, having them send them lottery picks that resulted in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. They found a good young coach that will be with them for at least a decade. They also managed the cap beautifully with no dead weight on the books.
But despite having all the talent, cap space, and great management, the Celtics are not a free agent destination. Anthony Davis said he would have approved a trade to the last place Knicks, but not the Celtics. It has nothing to do with Danny Ainge or the Celtics organization, but everything to do with the reputation of the city of Boston.
That is what is bothering Simmons. That is why he is always putting down the Knicks any chance he gets.