When it comes to handling himself, LeBron James is cut from the same mold as Alex Rodriguez. Every statement gets attention so every word is calculated. Every step is watched, so every movement is near-robotic. So when it seems like he might be flirting with New York through the Yankees, you can bet he is sending a message.
Nike announced it will be selling a Yankees-themed LeBron sneaker beginning in March, just in time for spring training and James’ next trip to the Garden. This marks the second time in five months that the Cavaliers’ star finds himself promoting the Bronx Bombers – in October he wore a Yankees hat during Game One of the American League Division series in Cleveland.
While the 23 year old is in the first year of a new contract, his actions suggest he has no intentions on staying in his home state for his entire career. Like ARod, James is very aware of his value and knows that a move to a bigger market will only increase his worth. Unfortunately, Cleveland just doesn’t have the same endless possibility as New York, Los Angeles or Chicago.
By openly supporting the Yankees, James probably isn’t saying he wants to be a Knick. All the money in the world probably wouldn’t be worth that torture. What he is doing is playing his hand and that could turn out to be a blessing in disguise for both the fans and management. He was very unhappy with the Cavs’ off-season, particularly the Anderson Varejao situation. If this team is trying to keep James happy, they won’t let something like that happen again.
And if Cleveland can add a point guard while keeping all its key pieces, it might just have the bargaining chip needed to keep James in town: a championship contender.
Until then, King James is going to keep flaunting himself to the big markets. In the end, as always, he’ll be in complete control.