Given our beloved Lakers have just experienced the worst five years in their history, I have great affection for the New York Knicks who last won a title in 1973 when Nixon was saying the Watergate investigation should finally end. The Knicks give me comfort that things could be worse. (Biting my tongue as I type.)
Actually, I’m stunned Knick fans haven’t rioted in the streets. (Spike Lee is a devoted Knicks season ticket holder and I was imagining a Knick uprising much like the ending of Spike’s “Do the Right Thing.”)
The truth is, I think New Yorkers love to have something to grouse about whereas Laker fans, myself included, tend to whine. They say if you want to look thinner hang out with fat people, that’s kind of how I feel about the Knicks.
Meanwhile, by June 29 LeBron James will make a decision that could be a seminal moment in Laker history. (Or, a seminal moment when I slit my wrists.) Las Vegas oddsmakers have the Lakers favored among the teams LeBron might choose. (If you bet $100 and he becomes a Laker you win get $200, your original $100 and the house’s $100, which sounds so dull I don’t know why I included it.)
Preparing for the worst, some of my Laker fan friends are saying even if LeBron doesn’t come to L.A., “we’re definitely heading in the right direction.” That’s like when the girl you love says “Let’s just be friends.” (To which I’ve never said, “Well, at least we’re headed in the right direction.”)
Desperate, I follow every LeBron coming to L.A. rumor like a paparazzi chasing Miley Cyrus. Reportedly, LeBron has two homes here, one of which is being renovated. Again, reportedly, Lebron’s son has enrolled to go to high school in the fall at a prestigious private school in the valley.
The info about LeBron’s son came from retired NBA All-Star Gary Payton who told “Black Sports Online,” 13-year-old LeBron ‘Bronny’ James Jr. has already committed to Sierra Canyon. (If LeBron doesn’t come to L.A., I may be committed.)
Other hopeful signs involve Paul George of OKC and Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. George, who went to high school in Palmdale, is a free agent and has said on numerous occasions he wants to be a Laker. But George’s enthusiasm lately seems slightly dampened.
Leonard went to high school in the Riverside area and has been adamant he wants to be a Laker in 2019 when he’s a free agent. It would seem if either George or Leonard became Lakers that would make help entice LeBron. (Certainly more than my begging.)
Last season, LeBron’s 15th was perhaps his best. He averaged 27.2 points per game in the regular season with 8.6 assists and 9.1 rebounds, the latter two stats career marks. His post-season was also spectacular, averaging 34 points per game, with nine assists and nine rebounds.
Few if any expected the Cavs to reach their fourth straight NBA Finals, but James’ dominance led them there. Some suggest LeBron’s arrival could make almost any roster a finals contender. Most agree if LeBron became L.A. Bron (sorry about that) it would instantly take the Lakers from “rebuilding” to “relevant.” Without LeBron, it might be another 3-5 years before the Lakers return to glory. (Ouch!)
If Vegas rates the Lakers as the most likely LeBron destination, following in order are Cleveland, Philadelphia, Houston, San Antonio, Boston and the Clippers. Though the Knicks aren’t even a remote possibility, Vegas does list the Warriors as having a slight chance to acquire LeBron though it would take major contract juggling to stay under the salary cap. (Talk about an excess of riches, it would also be absurd competition wise, meaning we could give the Warriors the Championship without having to bother playing the season.)
Under the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, since James is opting out of his contract with Cleveland, the Cavs are the only team that can offer him a new five-year deal worth 35% of the entire salary cap, with 8% annual raises. The total would come to well over $200,000,000! Opposing clubs are confined to offering a four-year max deal with 5% annual raises.
As the countdown to June 29 approaches, LeBron coming to L.A. just makes so much sense. (If not for him, for ME!) Kareem came here; Wilt came here; Shaq came here! The city would go crazy, or to be technical, crazier.
Think of it, the Rams seemingly possible Super Bowl contenders (fingers crossed) the Dodgers in the World Series last year (who knows now, but work with me) and the Lakers with LeBron. To steal from FDR’s campaign song, “Happy Days are Here Again.”
God forbid, if LeBron doesn’t become a Laker, I suppose one way to look at it, we’d still be better off than the Knicks. (Sigh.)
Jack also writes “Laughing Matters,” which appears every Friday. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org