Part of the rationale behind those thinking LeBron James would stay in Cleveland or jump to Philadelphia this summer was one logical question: Why would he leave the East?
LeBron’s team had won the Eastern Conference eight years in a row and while there are outstanding teams — Boston, Toronto, Philly — there isn’t the depth or intensity of the West.
LeBron went to the Lakers anyway. Dr. J himself, Julius Erving, said he admires that move, talking to Mike Gill, Pete Thompson, and Michael Kaskey-Blomain of The Sports Bash on 97.3 ESPN Radio in Philly.
“I have a great admiration for a guy who dominated the Eastern Conference as he has and then goes out to take up the challenge of playing in the Western Conference. That’s chutzpah.”
It is, especially considering he is going to turn 34 next season and the Lakers are a couple of players and at least a season away from contending.
As for if the Sixers or anyone else had a chance, Erving doesn’t see it that way.
“I think Magic had him locked up. All that ‘we’re Midwest boys so we can get along, we understand each other.’ I think he sold him on that, and the challenge for LeBron [to play in the West].”
More than that, LeBron relates to Magic as an all-time NBA player who became a business mogul. Guys who both had humble beginnings in the Mid-West to rise to heights they did not imagine. There’s a lot to that, and LeBron trusted Magic enough to give him four years.
That long a deal was a lot of chutzpah too. We’ll see if it pays off.