LeBron James is happy and has been for a while. Two consecutive championships for his Miami Heat and two NBA Finals MVPs will do that.
He’s in good standing with American sports fans, he’s arguably the most recognizable American athlete and one of the most popular athletes in the world. He doesn’t seem to be doing too much wrong these days.
The one faux pas of his career, announcing that he was “taking his talents to South Beach” during an interview on ESPN, is almost dead and buried. Sure some will never forget “The Decision,” but so much has happened since then.
So, if everything is going so great for LeBron, why would he want to leave after the 2014 season by opting out of his current contract to become a free agent?
I don’t think he’s going to leave Miami and there are five reasons why.
5. Erik Spoelstra
A superstar athlete has to gel with his coach. James and Spoelstra get along. It’s obvious they have good chemistry. They even appear together in a commercial in which Spoelstra is giving LeBron advice as they watch video of games.
4. Dwyane Wade
Just as Michael Jordan had his “Robin” in Scottie Pippen, LeBron James has his in Dwyane Wade. Wade plays the role perfectly and doesn’t seem to mind. Wade will continue to get the medical attention he needs to keep his knees healthy come playoff time. The postseason is crunch time and James knows Wade is the man when the games are close.
3. The Miami Vibe
With LeBron in Miami, South Beach has become a magnet for free agents. James loves his team and how it is built by Pat Riley to complement his talents. Ray Allen is putting the icing on his career and Chris Bosh is riding the wave too. In Miami, James has a chance to surpass Michael’s six championships.
2. The Indiana Pacers
LeBron currently has the formidable rival of his career in Paul George. The Indiana Pacers will continue to push the Heat and may even knock them out of the playoffs this season. James won’t want to leave Miami on those terms. The competitor in him has to love the budding rivalry, even if he says none exists. The Pacers are forcing LeBron to improve when he’s already the best player in the NBA. It’s also convenient for him that the Pacers are the only other major player in the Eastern Conference.
If James went West, he’d have more difficult foes to deal with.
1. David Beckham and the Miami MLS franchise
That’s right, LeBron is going to want to watch, monitor and supervise the new soccer franchise he wants to be a part of, so that it gets off the ground and wins championships. What better place to ensure it all happens the best way possible? He’ll want to stay in in South Florida see the franchise grow with the help of David Beckham.
I can’t say James will retire with the Heat. Retirement for LeBron is a long way off. But, I think he’s going to be in Miami at least five more seasons after this one.
Howard Alperin is Managing Editor of AmericanizeSoccer.com