CLEVELAND — As he dressed in his spacious corner locker, LeBron James glanced over at the news scrolling across the flat-screen TV on the far wall. The ticker read: “NBA: Kobe Bryant signs three-year contract extension with Los Angeles Lakers.”
Buttoning his shirt following the game in April, roughly one month before his quest for a championship would end awkwardly and two months before becoming The Free Agent Of All Free Agents, James wasn’t a bit surprised.
“Did anyone really think he was leaving?” he asked incredulously. “Kobe’s been there since he was like 17. That’s his home. He wasn’t going anywhere.”
Hmm. Sound like someone you know, ’Bron?
The league’s MVP grinned and bit his top lip. Not saying.
Soon enough, we’ll have his answer.
At the heart of James’ impending free agency, a moment of controlled chaos hyped beyond anything in recent sports memory, is one underlying question: Can he move away from the only place he has ever known?
James hits the market at 12:01 a.m. Thursday as the valedictorian of this historic 2010 free-agent class. He might have already decided where he’ll dribble, drive and dunk next. Even if he has, he’s still going to listen to offers and can’t sign with anyone until July 8.