Why free agent LeBron James should wear a Bulls jersey in 2010.
Oh man, LeBron, did you see that cry for help from those two sad sacks over at New York Mag, pleading with you to join the Knicks? Your business manager, Maverick Carter, must have nearly snorted single-malt manatee-saliva martinis out his nostrils. That’s like asking Barack Obama to run for president of, well, the New York Knicks. We’re not going to debase ourselves that way. The truth is: You need us as much as we need you. Here’s why.
Chicago is, currently, the best sports town. You’re leaving a city—Cleveland—known for failure. Meanwhile, Chicago has won a World Series in the last five years, it has the most exciting hockey team on ice, the man in the White House wears a Sox cap (even when he’s throwing out the first pitch in D.C.), and the Chicago Fire has won three U.S. Open Cups in the last seven years. What? Oh, it’s a soccer team. Stop laughing. It’s a sport.
The Bulls, likewise, have been to the playoffs five times in the past six years. No, they haven’t fared well, but we’re sort of hoping you’ll help with that.
The Bulls play professional basketball. Have you seen the Knicks roster, ’Bron? It’s the Bad News Bears without the pluck. Chris Duhon was the fourth guard on the Bulls a couple of years ago, and he started 59 games for the Knicks last year. There’s also a guy listed on their roster named Earl Barron who, as far as I can tell, doesn’t exist. The Knicks are a train wreck. And you know who made them that way? The Bulls. The Knicks took the Eddy Curry albatross off our hands and hung it around their Knick necks. Eddy makes $10.5 million a year. In the last two seasons, he’s played ten games.
On the other hand, the Bulls have a former Rookie of the Year and All-Star point guard in Derrick Rose, one of the best young centers in Joakim Noah, an ace defender in Kirk Hinrich who can take that burden off you, and enough salary flexibility to sign another All-Star (Joe Johnson, the man who’ll clear defenses for you).
Jay Mariotti thinks you shouldn’t. The Fanhouse.com columnist recently said you should stay away. The main thrust of it had something to do with Michael Jordan (who hasn’t played here in 12 years) and Obama not being a very good president. But you know that riddle about the two guards standing in front of the Door to Paradise and the Door to Hell, and you have to do the opposite of whatever one of them tells you to do? Mariotti is that guard.
Jordan’s shadow doesn’t loom, it illuminates. Despite what rainy-day Jay spleens, that Michael Jordan thing is a red herring. Any fan knows dynasties can’t be revived, but they can enter new eras. Do you think Kevin Garnett worried about playing in the same town as Larry Bird? How about every single player to put on a Yankee uniform? You’ve already acknowledged your debt to His Airness by switching from 23 to 6. It’s not a burden to join the team M.J. put on the map. It’s respect.
Celebrities do not a celebrity make. You can have your pick of celebrities here. I’m sure Jeremy Piven and Vince Vaughn will show up in James jerseys, along with every other native movie star who’s now in Hollywood, and they’ll sit courtside and wave to you. But Chicago isn’t a celebrity town. It’s a town that adores substance over glitz, achievement over cologne ads. Come here, join a team already filled with the pieces you need, win a few championships right away, and you’ll be both the biggest star in town and embedded in our hearts forever. It’s win-win, LeBron. You need us. We’d be happy to have you.