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Are The Chicago Bulls Better Off Without LeBron James?

Posted by sportsmaven on July 8, 2010

Who in their right mind would dare write anything suggesting that the Chicago Bulls might be better off without LeBron James?  After all, LeBron James is considered by nearly everyone in the world outside the city of Los Angeles to be the best basketball player in the world.  How can the Chicago Bulls be better off without LeBron?  Well the answer to that question depends on the LeBron James that you get — the best basketball player in the world, who wants to legitimize his basketball legacy by winning — and winning multiple NBA Championships, or the LeBron James that is morphing into this persona of a global media icon?

In past interviews leading up to his free agency, LeBron has spoken about cemeting his legacy by winning multiple NBA Championships.  He has also spoken about building himself up as a global icon and his desire to be the first billionaire athlete.  What I’m unclear about is which is more important, and that unclarity should be resolved in about 8 hours, when LeBron picks his “choice” on ESPN.

Chicago seemed to be the early favorite in the LeBron derby, offering the best roster that would allow James to compete for titles immediately.  As rumors persisted that Chicago was moving down the list of possibilities, the Bulls reportedly reached agreement with former Utah Jazz PF Carlos Boozer on a very cap favorable 5 year, $75 million deal, filling a major hole in the Bulls lineup, a hole that has existed for years.  With a young nucleus of PG Derrick Rose, C Joakim Noah, surprising rookie PF Taj Gibson, and even SF Luol Deng, if he ever reaches his potential, Boozer provides the grit and determination of a back-to-the-basket inside game that the Bulls have lacked since the Jordan days.

Adding LeBron James to the mix would vault the Bulls to the top two teams in the Eastern Conference, especially if you get the best basketball player in the world version.  Even with all the hype, the circus-like atmosphere and potential disenfranchisement of many basketball fans for the garish way in which this free agency season ended up for the Big 3 of LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, the Bulls may somehow be better off without LeBron.

If LeBron chooses Miami and links up with Wade and Bosh, there will be one less team (The Cleveland Cavaliers) competing for dominance in the Eastern Conference.  In addition, the “Three Amigos” and a remaining roster of minimum salary players is still not guaranteed to be a championship roster, not to mention the potential ego clashes once play begins.  Anywhere else, LeBron is no better than his situation is in Cleveland — other than Chicago.  If LeBron chooses not to come to Chicago, the Bulls can spend their remaining $18 million of cap space on getting quality role players (a pure shooter or two, backup center for instance) that truly make the difference between contending and winning championships (ask Kobe Bryant about Ron Artest and Derek Fisher).  Finally, the Bulls would not have to deal with a circus-like environment that would enevitably follow James wherever he goes. 

Believe it or not, the Chicago Bulls are in the driver’s seat tonight so to speak.  They have the least to lose in the LeBron sweepstakes.  If LeBron is not in Chicago, it’s not the end of the world.  In fact, it might be the beginning of a run of championships that could potentially rival the Jordan days.

6 Responses to “Are The Chicago Bulls Better Off Without LeBron James?”

  1. […] More… Posted in Uncategorized Tags: Chicago Bulls, Greatest Bulls Ever Michael Jordan, James After, Los Angeles « Coach Wooden: The 7 Principles That Shaped His Life and Will Change Yours (Hardcover) newly tagged “sports” You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. […]

  2. Chris Ross said

    Great post, I really enjoyed reading it! If all the ESPN reports are true and Lebron heads to Miami I wonder how that’s all going to pan out. I have disliked Lebron for his whole career and I won’t be able to cheer for them anymore but it will still be very interesting. This night is going to go down as one of the most historic nights ever and if he doesn’t join Bosh and Wade even better. Also, you think you could check out my blog as well cuz I really want to know your thoughts on my thoughts 🙂 .

  3. The difference being that the Lakers and Celtics have spread their championships among different eras and different superstars. The Bulls *are* Jordan. I think he casts a much bigger shadow in that town.

    • I do agree with you on your point. Jordan will always be the Bulls until the next group wins a championship, exactly how the Lakers and Celtics legacies grew. LeBron may not be up for following Jordan, and if he isn’t, he’s definitely not the possessor of that killer competitiveness that defined Jordan and Kobe Bryant. He may be more like Dr. J than Jordan/Bryant if that’s truly the case.

      If I were LeBron, I would stay in Cleveland, as that is the only way he can truly define his legacy and get in the conversation with Jordan/Bryant/Russell/Magic/Bird, but he would need the championships to do that and Cleveland just doesn’t have the juice on it’s roster.

  4. The Michael Jordan comparisons are a common theme. I think if you are a superstar basketball player, eventually, you will be compared to Michael Jordan, regardless of where you play. Don’t you agree that Kobe Bryant is compared to Michael Jordan everytime he wins another championship? If that was the fear, nobody in their right minds would play for the Lakers or Celtics in fear of having to live up to the legacies of Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul Jabbar, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson.

    The consolidation of NBA superstars increases the chances of winning multiple titles, as there are less loaded teams to move through. The Lakers may have a championship or two left in them, and the Celtics probably have one good run left. After that, there could be a shift in the power base of the NBA, towards the teams with multiple “superstars”. Chicago will be right there. If they do it right, their chance of multiple championships is as good as anybody.

  5. Seems to me that Chicago is a lose/lose situation for him. He’ll always be in Jordan’s shadow — the chance of him winning 6 or more titles with them is slim at best. So if he wins a title or two, he was supposed to. If he doesn’t win a title there he will be vilified.

    I have a post up now on LeBron and the hooplah surrounding tonight’s made for TV event.

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