Tuesday, August 5, 2008

LeBron James: From King to... Greek God?!

Looks like it isn't only the Knicks and the Nets that are planning to land LeBron James once he becomes a free agent in 2010 as, rumor has it, Olympiacos, the team that signed Atlanta Hawks' Josh Childress for the princely sum of $20 million "net" for 3 years, is planning to make an even bigger offer for LeBron's services once he's a free agent.

"Just how big," you say? Well, let's put it this way: when LeBron becomes a free agent in the NBA, he stands to earn, at the very least, $20 million annually. But in Europe, or Greece for that matter, where there's no such thing as a salary cap, he just might be able to command a $40 million pay check per year, and "net" at that! After all, it's LeBron James we're talking about here! One of, if not, THE NBA's top draw! Michael Jordan's heir apparent! A man who's got loads more of hoop skills than Josh Childress!

But would he do it? Would LeBron cross the pond that's called the Atlantic to play for more money in Europe?

If it's about money, if he really wants to become the first billionaire athlete, then I suppose he would. After all, if you're gonna get paid more than what you're ever gonna get in the NBA AND still have your other expenses taken care of by the team, like tax and living expenses, then it really is a no-brainer of a question. Add to that that by playing overseas, LeBron's opening himself to an ever more lucrative global market, then that no-brainer of a question becomes even more stupid and pointless, don't you think?

But the thing is, if he does pack up and play in Europe, he stands to alienate and lose a lot of his hometown fans, not to mention the fans he has across the United States as well as his fans in Asia who practically know nothing of European basketball, save for those who make it good in the NBA. Case in point: ask the kids nowadays who Detlef Schrempf is and they're more likely to think you're high on crystal meth.

But going back to the subject of Lebron moving to Greece. I think that's never going to happen, no matter how big a paycheck Olympiacos offers him short of a $100 million annual paycheck. Why? Because when he becomes a free agent, his endorsement contracts with companies like Nike, Sprite and Upper Deck, to name a few, just might come close to whatever Olympiacos would offer him if ever the rumors are true. So not only would he still get the money, he'll still be able to keep his fan base. And let's face it, we're talking about LeBron here! He already has a global reach even if he's just playing in the US!

Still, the question isn't about if a top-draw player in the NBA would move to Europe for a bigger paycheck; the question is when. After all, Dominique Wilkins did it, but he was already in the twilight of his career when he did it.

Anyone see Carmelo Anthony doing a 'Nique and heading off to Europe for a blockbuster paycheck?

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