New York, New York —
A hell of a town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.
The People ride in a hole in the ground.
New York, New York —
It's a hell of a town.
-Jerome Kern & Leonard Bernstein
LeBron James, the "King of All Courts," is being courted by The New Jersey (soon to be Brooklyn) Nets and the New York Knicks. Representing the Nets, billionaire Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov and rapper Jay-Z went to Cleveland, followed by Knicks owner James Dolan and head coach Mike D'Antoni. This feeding frenzy of New Yorkers was a full-court press to be sure, trying to lure the greatest catch of all into their big, cash-laden boats.
Can you imagine what King James must have been thinking as these guys made their "presentations" to him? Each team brought a slew of reasons for LeBron to sign on their dotted line. Maybe, all the smoke and mirrors aside, the strongest asset the Nets had in their corner was Jay-Z himself, who recently put an advertisement on a side of a building across from Madison Square Garden featuring King Kong-sized photos of the rapper and Prokhorov. The message, "the blueprint for greatness" was sent loud and clear: to court a king you've got to be king-sized yourself. Score one for Jay-Z.
Still and all, I warn King James to hold onto that crown and think hard, very hard, about what is being thrown at him. Despite all the celebrities like Spike Lee and Chris Rock, who are part of this wooing process, LeBron should know from a New Yorker that he is in for a rough ride here. Even with all his talent and star quality, James should think twice about taking vows to wed him to a city that is a great gal on a first date, but is a decidedly different woman after you've tied the knot.
If money is the only consideration, then forget New York (or any other team). All the King's suitors and all their men can't offer more money than the Cavaliers because of NBA salary restrictions. This is not a George Steinbrenner and the Yankees kind of thing here, where the fattest wallet gets you the prized goose. The Knicks have no choice but to offer less than the Cavs, so in the monetary sweepstakes, picking Cleveland is a no brainer for LeBron. But are there other considerations?
There's no doubt Dolan and Jay-Z brought in the heavy artillery, showing how wonderful old New York can be. I'm sure they promised that all the benefits of New York, including all the endorsements in the world, will come in his window. No matter how much the King loves Cleveland, to paraphrase a Groucho Marx line, "Love goes out the door when money comes in the window." Still, James should think awfully hard about this possible marriage with a fickle gal, and New York has not been exactly kind to her past suitors either.
I can think of many sports players who came to New York and thought they could "handle" or "tame" her. Even the biggest guys, like Reggie Jackson know what New York can do for you. But she is a tough gal who sucks the life out of you, spits you out when she's done, and then leaves you for her next conquest. Ask A-Rod about that one; even after all this time he has had an uneasy marriage with the place. Is there any question that his stats (and his personal life) would have been better if he had signed elsewhere?
My advice to King James is this: click your ruby sneakers together three times, keep saying, "There's no place like home," and when you wake up, you will have all the money you want and peace of mind too. You'll tell Byron Scott (the Cavs' new coach), "I had a terrible nightmare." He'll pat you on the shoulder and say, "It's all over now. It was only a dream."
Yes, if things go the way they should, it will have been only a dream for Jay-Z, Dolan, and all the New Yorkers who wanted King James in their court. My fellow city dwellers need to face the truth: we can love our New York with all our hearts, but she is a tough cookie and isn't so good at loving you back all the time.
Now that you know the truth, King James, you know what to do.