King James Holds Court Like a True Royal
Seriously, what royal ever did his business on the road? Travel is for grunts, the legions who expand the kingdom or the tax collectors who see that the treasury remains full. Real kings don't grovel for attention in foreign lands. They let the world come to their beck and call.
And say what you will, but LeBron is the closest thing we've had to real royalty in the NBA in more than a decade.
The planned July tour through at least five NBA cities reported by FanHouse's Sam Amick last month looked like a good if ego-centric idea. But staying at home and entertaining a succession of team executives oozes power, and it paints LeBron in a more respectable light.
Folks will frame the decision as it suits their opinion; some observers would be offended if LeBron went low-key and placed a singles ad. (SBM, MVPx2, 6'8 and fit, ISO multi championships.) But at its core, LeBron holding court at home is a brilliant move.
The Knicks had planned a big gala event for LeBron's visit the first week of July. But honestly, James knows what the New York nightlife can offer. He hangs out with Jay-Z and Warren Buffett. Hors d'oeuvres prepared by David Bouley aren't so out of the ordinary for a man of LeBron's stature; one taste of a particularly splendid amusé-bouche isn't going to make James lose his mind and sign a Knicks deal on the spot.
Really, skipping the festivities at the start of free agency shows that LeBron isn't kidding about the role winning has in his decision. You can't bring a red carpet and fireworks to someone else's house, so this strategy projects the image of business. Whether this is a PR move after the backlash the reported tour sparked, or if it is truly how LeBron has wanted to handle things doesn't matter. Image is everything, and that vastly improved as Team James switched the gameplan.
The real question is whether the strategy gives any team a new advantage.
Does it disadvantage the Knicks and Nets that LeBron will be hosting representatives at home rather than being wooed in the Big Apple? The Nets' front office is currently in shambles as new owner Mikhail Prokhorov will reportedly lose president Rod Thorn the day before free agency begins. The Knicks, honestly, have little more than environs and a population of fanatical followers as assets.By focusing on brass tracks in lieu of glitz, the new plan seriously hampers the big city allures of the New York teams.
This isn't to say the Nets and Knicks can't be contenders. But they call it home court advantage for a reason, and both New York-area teams just lost that. They'll be fighting uphill in Akron to win over King James, effectively grovelling at his size-16 Nikes. As Brian Windhorst of the Cleveland Plain Dealer wrote this weekend, LeBron will make this most impactful of decisions himself. It's worth fitting then, that the precursor to that decision comes where he is most comfortable, in his own castle.
From a king, we would expect nothing less.