Despite the fact that the NHL and NBA are in the middle of their respective conference finals, the biggest story in sports is where will LeBron James play next season. Bill Simmons recently wrote a piece breaking down LeBron’s options between 1. Staying in Cleveland, 2. Moving to Chicago (where Simmons believes Lebron has the best chance to win a title), or 3. Joining the New York Knicks for a chance to become, legen- (wait for it) –dary. I’d like to propose a fourth option that isn’t on anyone’s radar: Pittsburgh.
I know what you’re thinking. Why would LeBron move to Pittsburgh? They don’t have a basketball team. You’re obviously forgetting the Pittsburgh Pipers, later the Pittsburgh Condors, a charter member and first league champion of the American Basketball Association. Sure, they don’t have a basketball team NOW, but Pittsburgh has had professional basketball and the University of Pittsburgh basketball team regularly sells out.
Your next question: is the NBA even looking at expansion? Another minor detail. Look, we’re talking about LeBron James here. He’s the NBA MVP and arguably the biggest name in sports. There’s been talk of LeBron hand-picking his next head coach, John Calipari. In the unlikely event that Calipari is going to leave Kentucky, you would think he would go to a perfect situation. In this case, the perfect situation is creating your own franchise with the NBA MVP in your hometown. So if LeBron can select his next head coach, why wouldn’t he be able to select wherever he wants to play, even if there’s not an NBA franchise in that city?
So why would LeBron move to Pittsburgh? Well, he can bring in Calipari to run the franchise, and more importantly, LeBron could own the team. Literally. To bring LeBron to Pittsburgh, you need to provide something that no other team can or will and that would be partial ownership. You can also offer LeBron the opportunity to play in a brand new arena at the Consol Energy Center opening this fall. Although Consol Energy paid millions for the naming rights, they probably wouldn’t mind changing the arena name to the Consol Energy LeBronDome.
Maybe the biggest reason LeBron could come to Pittsburgh is a winning culture. To state the obvious, Cleveland sports teams are lacking in this area. Meanwhile, the Steelers have six Super Bowl trophies including two over the past five years, and the Penguins recently won the Stanley Cup. Sure the Pittsburgh Pirates haven’t been successful lately, but LeBron James could probably play first base if he’d like. Would the Indians, Mets, or Cubs allow LeBron to play? Actually, they probably would.
Finally, you may be concerned that moving to Pittsburgh would hurt LeBron internationally. He’s still playing in the NBA and would be in a new uniform. Think of the jersey sales across the globe! Plus, LeBron can follow the popularity of plenty of other Pittsburgh athletes internationally like Jaromir Jagr in the Czech Republic, Hines Ward in South Korea, Sidney Crosby in Canada, and Rinku and Dinesh in India.
If you’re reading this, LeBron, let me be the first to welcome you to Pittsburgh. Welcome to the country’s most livable city and only two hours from Akron. Plus, with Sidney Crosby moving out of Mario Lemieux's house, I can recommend a great place to live!