Basketball world hangs on LeBron's decision

FRANK ZICARERLLI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:15 AM ET

The basketball world now awaits the King’s decision, an announcement that has so many far-reaching implications that it would be foolish to even begin to speculate.

LeBron James met first with Cleveland and later with Chicago on Saturday on his home turf in Ohio as free agency entered its third day, the final day for teams to make their pitch for the crown jewel in this summer’s frenzy.

New Jersey went first on Thursday, followed by New York, Miami and the L.A. Clippers, who entered the James sweepstakes with the biggest odds of landing the King.

If anyone paid attention throughout this process to the media mavens in the Big Apple, there was only one destination for LeBron, one choice and that was Gotham.

Unless something dramatically happens, it appears LeBron won’t be playing under the big lights of Manhattan and neither, it seems, will he follow in the footsteps of his business idol and global icon, Jay-Z, to New Jersey.

James is a lot of things, but he’s no fool, realizing that neither the Knicks nor Nets are constructed to contend for a championship, even if each did have plenty of cap space and the potential to lure another big-name player.

From the outset, this whole notion of LeBron teaming up with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami smacked of pie in the sky, a media-driven ploy to draw attention to these selfish scribes.

Does anyone actually believe an NBA star, a young star to boot, is willing to take less money at the chance of winning a title?

That didn’t prevent Heat president Pat Riley from wearing his championship rings when Miami officials met with the King.

From afar, the James’ sweepstakes has been reduced to two — Cleveland and Chicago.

Even a guy as rich as James can’t exactly afford to leave one year and $30 million US on the table if he decides to leave his home state.

The Cavs have been tugging at James’ heartstrings, have hired a coach in Byron Scott who once played in the league, an important requisite for James, and have always shown a willingness to win at all cost under owner Dan Gilbert’s watch.

But is it enough for James to want to stick around or does he realize how flawed Cleveland’s roster is and how little interest there is in the likes of a Mo Williams, Delonte West, Anthony Parker or a Jamario Moon, pieces that are certain to get dangled?

If James does turn his back on Cleveland, the Cavs are toast.

Even if James does help the Cavs in some kind of sign and trade, there’s nothing of any substance that would be added to make Cleveland competitive.

When James begins the process of deciding where to play, it must become abundantly clear that Chicago presents the best opportunity to win and the most attractive situation to help build a dynasty.

The Bulls have always had the advantage against any other team because no team has pieces in Derrick Rose and Yoakim Noah.

When Chicago traded Kirk Hinrich and his salary to Washington on draft night, more cap space got cleared, more intrigue began to surface in the Windy City as the possibilities became more enticing.

If James decides by as early as Monday that he’s Chicago bound, you can bet one of Bosh or Wade will follow.

Wade, by all accounts, has twice met with Chicago, his native city, a development that has suddenly created much anxiety in South Beach.

Everyone knew Bosh would be leaving Toronto, but no one expected Wade to even contemplate leaving Florida.

Bosh and Wade share the same agent, Henry Thomas, and the two were spotted at Thomas’ Chicago office late Friday after each player met with Bulls officials.

No one is going to say what was really said behind close doors, but the end to this ridiculously insane recruiting will soon end.

The NBA’s moratorium gets lifted on Thursday, when deals leaked by agents become official, when teams can actually comment on their moves.

By Thursday, James will decide and the dominos will fall into place.

It can’t happen soon enough.

frank.zicarelli@sunmedia.


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