The basketball world was rocked Sunday night when Lebron James decided to take his talents west, agreeing to a four-year 154 million dollar contract with the Lakers. His decision was met with mixed reactions from Cleveland Cavaliers fans upset their homegrown hero was leaving once again, to Laker fans who are still mourning the end of Kobe's career, this is a win. While some think this move tarnishes his legacy, I think it cements the type of legacy LeBron James wants to leave.
If you look at the root of this decision, one thing is clear. LeBron wanted to put his family in the best position to succeed. As a parent, there are sacrifices you make for your family or children that may not be the best or most popular move for your career or image, but setting your family up for success is an easy decision to make even with the resulting fallout. LeBron is a father first; basketball is secondary. When he left Miami to go home to Cleveland, his children were at the center of his decision; this time is no different.
It is widely known that LeBron and his wife Savannah were in LA last year at this time touring schools for their oldest son, Lebron James, Jr., who wants to play basketball at a top tier high school to pursue a professional basketball career like his father. So, why wouldn't he give his son the opportunity to do so? To top it off, you have a chance to play for the greatest franchise in all of sports and restore the Lakers brand back to greatness. As a father, if I had to move to Alaska because my daughter would have the best opportunity to succeed, I'd be packing my winter coat right now.
You could say that LeBron James is the Barack Obama of basketball; as a polarizing figure, you either love him or you hate him, but history will concede the point they were game-changers and deserve to be considered among the best in their fields. You hated LeBron for what he did to your team as an opposing player, but you have to love him for what he will do for your team and city.
With LeBron James, Los Angeles not only gets the best basketball player today and one of the greatest of all time, but also a great father, role model, and philanthropist. His 16-year career has been free of scandals on or off the court. LeBron is much bigger than basketball, and the city of angels and champions alike is rightfully buzzing. Most importantly, as a father, you have to respect his decision to give his children the opportunity to thrive. I look forward to what the next phase of his career does for my beloved Lakers and Los Angeles.