A picture is worth 1000 words, and judging by the images of LeBron James to come out of MSG last night, one can’t help but speculate if LeBron is trying to hint at his desire, discreetly and indirectly, to not just leave the Lakers for a shot at a title but also to add MSG to his list of one-time residencies.
Let me clarify from the outset that I hope the Knicks will refrain from disrupting the chemistry of a team currently experiencing its most successful and exhilarating season since 1994 by considering the addition of LeBron. The excitement throughout the entire game last night resembled the intensity of a playoff game from the ‘90s.
Yes, LeBron is LeBron, but the way the Knicks have been playing since the O.G. Anunoby trade (even without Julius Randle) shows they are more than capable of succeeding without LeBron. They certainly don’t need the media circus that comes along with his presence, and they don’t need him to come in and turn Thibs into an “assistant coach” while he tries to take the reins from Brunson with the mentality that he would become the Knicks undisputable leader. While these thoughts are merely speculative, these speculations align with LeBron’s known tendencies, regardless of the team he plays for.
For the first time since 1999 the Knicks are in a legitimate window to compete for the Finals. They are not the same team that Knicks fans have become accustomed to over the last two decades. There is no need for a media circus to come in mid-season to disrupt the team's current flow to simply sell tickets, or just to uniform the first player to ever score 40,000 career points (of which approximately 39,800 of them came while making a career in other uniforms) for what would turn out to most likely be a three-month pit stop.
The Knicks have more significant objectives to focus on, which could become the new norm for the organization for years to come well beyond Lebron’s final NBA game regardless of which team it is with.
First and foremost, if you had asked LeBron at the beginning of the season whether he could envision himself wearing a Knicks uniform this year, it’s reasonable to assume that his response would have been a resounding no. The expectations were high for the Lakers this season.
Second, while many expected the Knicks to be playoff contenders, talks of them representing the East in the NBA Finals were seldom if any. Now the Knicks are the hottest team not just in the East, but in the entire league, while the Lakers are mediocre at best, and the King of title chasing is planting some interesting seeds that can’t help but go unnoticed for the third time in less than a week's span of time.
It all started with his cryptic tweet last Tuesday after the Lakers blowout loss to the Hawks. Trade rumors immediately started swirling around the Knicks, which included Julius Randle going the other way to L.A. Without going too far off the rails right now, I don’t understand why the Knicks would even contemplate trading their younger All-Star power forward (who has led the Knicks along with Jalen Brunson to their current state) for a 39 years old LeBron who will either opt in for $51 million next season, or more likely leave whichever team he finishes this season with for the team to draft his son Bronny next summer.
Immediately as the rumors began to spread, LeBron’s agent Rich Paul tried to put them to bed, insisting LeBron will not seek a trade. I’ve learned over the years these statements are meaningless. It hasn’t even been a full year since the Nets were adamant that they weren’t trading Kevin Durant prior to last season’s trade deadline, just to ship him off less than 48 hours later.
As Paul tried to deflate the trade rumors, Knicks fans turned their attention to last night’s game which began with a clip of LeBron arriving to the Garden in Knicks colored Nikes. Coincidence? I don’t think he’d ever arrive in Boston to play the Celtics in custom green kicks. While this is simply not more than two plausible coincidences, the final straw to break the camel’s back came at the end of the game when LeBron, during his postgame interview, wrapped himself up in a Knicks towel intended exclusively for Knicks players, and not readily made available to the visiting team’s players, while he conducted his postgame interview and walked off the court as the ABC cameras followed him.
Is this just another coincidence... or by the third strike is LeBron trying to passively aggressively trying to say something more?