Writer: Jameson White
Lebron James. The King. Arguably the greatest to ever lace ‘em up. He represents the city of Cleveland, and he is the heart and soul of the Cavaliers. He put the franchise in misery once he left, and brought the Cavs back to Finals contention when he returned. In the 2016 NBA Finals, Lebron put the team on his back and lead Cleveland to its first title in franchise history. The kid from Akron, Ohio, had finally done what he had set out to accomplish so many years before. However, rumors are swirling that following the upcoming 2017-2018 season, he could be on his way out. If he so chooses to leave Cleveland another time, this will once again be a move that single-handedly tears this franchise to shreds. Fans have begun to throw out possible destinations to where he may land, but I believe that there is one place in particular that hasn’t been talked about enough; San Antonio, Texas.
This free agency decision makes all the sense in the world, for multiple reasons. The Eastern Conference seems to get weaker by the minute. Players have begun their journeys westward, whether by their choice or not, and made the East a barren wasteland. Meanwhile, year in and year out, the Western Conference is filled with excitement. Great players fill great teams and make for very competitive playoff seeding. San Antonio is always near the top of these standings in the West, and this is only the first of many reasons why a free agency decision makes all the sense in the world.
1. The Playoffs. San Antonio every year for the last 20 seasons has made the postseason. In each of the last 18 seasons, the Spurs have won at least 50 games, marking an NBA record. The Spurs always seem to make the playoffs as the first or second seed in the conference, and once the postseason is underway, you can expect San Antonio to always put up a fight and make a deep run. With Lebron on the team, this would be no different, as he has his own experience with deep playoff runs. The Spurs and Warriors would almost be guaranteed a Western Conference Finals matchup, meaning that San Antonio would be battle tested. San Antonio could realistically beat Golden State, as they could have the defense to compete with that vaunted offense. In the instance of a San Antonio victory, they would get to play the winner of the weaker Eastern Conference. This is essentially the same as taking the test before you do the test review; the finals would be a cake-walk.
2. Culture. Throughout Lebron’s career, he has always had be the focal point of a team. Although he has shown he can handle this with seemingly great ease, it has to have taken its toll. If you take James off of the Cavaliers team today, they could most likely finish the season around .500 and make the postseason in the weaker Eastern Conference, but they would not make it past the teams such as the Celtics, Raptors, Wizards. In San Antonio, they would not need him to be their savior. For years, there has been continuity and a system in place that has that championship pedigree, rather than Lebron having to be the system. This takes a huge weight off of his shoulders.
3. Coaching. In all that Lebron has done during his illustrious career, and he has done a lot, he has never had a coach that was anywhere near the caliber of Gregg Popovich. Granted, not many teams or players can say that they have, but when you think of the league’s greatest players, most of them had great coaches. Players such as Michael Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, to name a few, had a coach like Phil Jackson. Other legends, such as Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Alonzo Mourning, along with others, played under a legendary coach in Pat Riley. Gregg Popovich would be that iconic coach for Lebron, and would put two of the NBA’s greatest basketball minds on one team.
This is all in theory, but it isn’t too farfetched. A new big 3 with Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge (if he decides to step up), and Lebron James, could go toe-to-toe with the Golden State Warriors. And could you imagine the defensive switching that could take place between Danny Green, Rudy Gay, Kawhi, AND Lebron? Under Gregg Popovich? Terrifying.