The million dollar question that everyone wants to know the answer to is, “Will LeBron & Lonzo team up?” Here’s five reasons why we don’t think so.
First, let’s just say that the combination of LeBron James and Lonzo Ball is a match made in heaven. Truly. Lonzo Ball is a slick pass-first guard with Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd-like vision. LeBron, of course, loves to be on the receiving end of a nice pass because that’s where he’s most dangerous. Additionally, LeBron can mentor Lonzo and bring his guard play to a premium level of 0-to-100 REAL QUICK! Both the Ball’s and LeBron would stand to thrive in the glitzy confines of the Los Angeles spotlight — friendly media, lots of star power, and tons of off court business opportunities. Ah, this all sounds perfect in La-La-Land!
That said, here are the Top-5 reasons we think that this perfect marriage won’t happen:
A lot can happen in a year. Think about how your life’s changed over the past year. Sure, Lonzo Ball looked superb in Summer League playing against the bottom half of the talent pool in the NBA. From now until next summer, who’s to say where his game will be and whether or not another diamond-in-the-rough rookie or team doesn’t present itself as a better fit for LeBron.
Lonzo Ball is a big draw in his own right. Once he takes the court this year, he’ll become the new face of the Los Angeles Lakers, if he hasn’t already done so. In short, this is Lonzo’s team now. Although LeBron teamed with Dwayne Wade in Miami, this scenario is a bit different. Really. Listen up! LeBron would play second fiddle, even with all of his accolades, to the younger Lonzo. Simply put, Lonzo is the homegrown kid, drafted and groomed to wear the purple crown, while LeBron is just a guy looking for the next big thing. Additionally, if Lonzo has a successful rookie season, then that diminishes the draw for LeBron — he wouldn’t be the team so much as he would be a team member, a chaser. That’s no good for his legacy.
It’s still the Western Conference people — HELLO! Even with the addition of LeBron James and another piece, the Lakers still have to compete with some of the best teams in the league night-in and night-out — Golden State, Houston, OKC, San Antonio and Portland. It’s no cake walk. LeBron would have to play and play for real. There would be none of this ‘let me rest tonight’s game’ stuff or continued gimmicky halftime hand shakes. Unlike the Eastern Conference, where Boston and Washington are the toughest competition at best, the left coast is truly the Wild Wild West. To be frank, it ain’t no joke. If you come at the King (Stephen Curry), you best not miss.
Pat Riley is a gangsta. Yes, gangsta! There’s no way that he let’s LeBron go to the Lakers knowing full well that the Miami Heat could dominate the East for another three years. The pitch from Riley is easy, “We’ve done this before, so let’s do it again!” LeBron knows, like Riley knows, that the bank is open all day in the Eastern Conference and they can punch their way to the NBA Finals every year with the right pieces in place. Additionally, LeBron gets to potentially make good on his championship promises and keep his legacy strong among the two cities he’s already won over. This is a surefire win for LeBron’s legacy. Check.
Kobe Bryant still looms large in the present era. For all intents and purposes, this is still Kobe’s team, even in retirement. If LeBron went to Los Angeles, he’d be forever measured against Kobe Bryant, who he may never surpass in championships. To be honest, LeBron would rather keep the conversation going regarding who’s the G.O.A.T. amongst he and Michael Jordan. Should LeBron fail to bring home the hardware in Los Angeles, then he indirectly helps to cement Kobe’s legacy and diminish his own. At the end of the day, LeBron would be remembered as the guy that didn’t have killer instinct and couldn’t get it done on the big stage. Kobe did, LeBron didn’t — that’s bad for legacy.
Overall, LeBron’s a calculating human being. The most important thing to him at this stage in his career is protecting both his legacy and his brand. Going back to Miami to join forces with Pat Riley and whoever else they decide to bring in is good for LeBron’s brand. Truth be told, the sun shines just as much in Miami as it does Los Angeles.
(This article was originally published on July 19, 2017)