In the midst of The Decision 3.0 bearing down on the National Basketball Association (NBA), not a few quarters have seen fit to take LeBron James to task for the way he has gone about making his free agency decisions. For his upcoming foray, reports have pointed to him making calls to other stars around the league in an effort to form a supersquad slated to challenge the Warriors’ supremacy. Never mind that the news is unverified at best, and that, even if true, it serves only to underscore his competitiveness.
Indeed, James has every right to explore his options as best he can heading into free agency. And, in so doing, he can press the digits of as many players as he wants, whenever he wants. He’s just one of countless others in the NBA who make similar moves. In fact, plenty go so far as to openly go through their thought process — even on social media. The list of ballers seemingly breaching league rules against tampering is long, and serves as proof that the exercise of their right to choose their destiny supersedes everything else.
Remember Chandler Parsons’ recruitment of DeAndre Jordan in 2015? Or CJ McCollum’s Twitter posts on Carmelo Anthony last year? The Rockets were able to land Chris Paul — who heads the Players Association — via a sign-and-trade deal prior to the start of the 2017-2018 season because he made no secret of his desire to join them. Kevin Durant’s move to the Warriors in 2016 was hatched not after the Finals that year, but closer to the preceding All-Star break, when he got together with Steph Curry and Draymond Green and ruminated on the prospects of a dynasty. Gordon Hayward was set on the Celtics because Isaiah Thomas gave him a full-court press long before he became a free agent last year.
All the aforementioned examples, and more, highlight not just James’ privileges. They likewise cast the spotlight on the need for him to look into all possibilities. Doing anything less would be tantamount to claiming a handicap. He wants to take control of his future, and franchises eager to know where he figures to land will have to wait until he dots all the Is and crosses all the Ts. Meanwhile, critics are left to accept the order of things in the era of the King.
Anthony L. Cuaycong has been writing Courtside since BusinessWorld introduced a Sports section in 1994.