LeBron James’ free agency decision is bigger than basketball.
Sure, championships are nice, and the four-time MVP probably will factor winning into his evaluation process. But his good friend and former teammate Dwyane Wade suggested recently that James’ decision could be “more so of a lifestyle thing,” opening the door for additional possibilities.
The Los Angeles Lakers are considered the favorites to sign James, according to oddsmakers, perhaps in large because of the business opportunities the location presents. James already is a global star, and playing in Los Angeles almost certainly would elevate his brand to new heights.
But what if fame, fortune and world domination aren’t what James is looking for in his next franchise? What if he instead wants to focus on politics, social justice issues and using his status as a way to drive change on important cultural topics? Wouldn’t the nation’s capital be a worthwhile consideration?
That’s basically what Michael Wilbon, known mostly for his work on ESPN’s “Pardon the Interruption,” argued in a piece published Wednesday on The Undefeated. The Washington Wizards haven’t been discussed much as a potential destination, but Wilbon believes D.C. has a lot to offer James, who’s been outspoken on several social issues, including Donald Trump’s controversial presidency.
Here’s what Wilbon wrote:
Washington, not Los Angeles, is the most powerful city in the world. Washington, not Houston, is where every significant issue relating to sports, from steroids to chronic traumatic encephalopathy to gambling to paying college athletes, has been and will be addressed on Capitol Hill. Washington, not Philly, is where you apply to the National Park Service to convene a rally to call national attention to gun control, women’s rights or Black Lives Matter.
Wilbon later added:
LeBron, first gently and now confidently, is becoming a national power broker, a champion of social justice and the issues related to its pursuit. This search, even more than his last two free agencies, is about more than winning and money; there’s an intellectual growth and personal conviction that has led to a real sense of his off-court influence and how that can move the culture. No, he’s not going to shut up and dribble.
And Washington, D.C., is where he can all at once pursue his championships, earn his hundreds of millions and make a glorious noise of protest, agitation or advocacy.
It’s certainly an interesting thought if nothing else, and it doesn’t completely disregard the basketball aspect of James’ decision, either, as the Wizards already are one of the best teams in the weak Eastern Conference and would be even better if they added the 14-time All-Star.
James is in an enviable position of being able to do whatever he wants, both on and off the court, and it’s up to him to choose his next path in life. Washington is a huge stage that presents certain opportunities James might be hard-pressed to find elsewhere.
Oh, by the way, Michael Jordan played two seasons with the Wizards and didn’t win a title. Just saying.
Thumbnail photo via David Richard/USA TODAY Sports Images
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