Thursday, December 4, 2008
All of the Different Articles on LeBron James and the New York Knicks
All of the Different Articles on LeBron James and the New York Nicks
NEW YORK (AP) -Even Spike Lee, that noted Knicks superfan, was a LeBron James guy Tuesday night.
And when New York guard Nate Robinson saw the producer had turned traitor and was wearing a pair of the special red ''Big Apple'' sneakers James was debuting for this game, he immediately began stepping on Lee's foot.
''Stop!'' Lee said. ''He's going to be your teammate.''
That's what Knicks fans hope, anyway.
James' first visit to Madison Square Garden this season came just days after the Knicks made a pair of trades that freed up salary cap space for a potential run at the Cleveland Cavaliers ' superstar in the summer of 2010.
James scored 26 points in the Cavaliers' 119-101 victory. It had the pregame feel of the NBA finals - James' press conference of some 50 media members and more than a half-dozen TV cameras was comparable in size to those when Cleveland played San Antonio for the 2007 title.
And far away as it is, James understood the magnitude of his pending free agency, which could come the same day players such as Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh also become available.
''I think July 1, 2010, is a very big day,'' James said. ''It's probably going to be one of the biggest days in free-agent history in the NBA. So a lot of teams are gearing up to try to prepare themselves to be able to put themselves in position to get one of the big free-agent market guys.''
James is the biggest. And New York is the biggest stage available, so it would be a natural fit.
But James disagreed that leaving Cleveland is a necessary step to making him a bigger star and giving him a better chance to win championships.
''That's something that's not a factor,'' James said. ''You look at someone like Tim Duncan for instance, who decided to sign short-term deals and decide to take pay cuts to stay in San Antonio to sign guys like Manu (Ginobili) and sign guys like Tony Parker and they won championships. And San Antonio we all know is not a big market at all.
''So for me it's all about winning. It's not about the market that you'd be in, it's all about winning with me and that's what this league has always been about.''
So would he take less in Cleveland to help the Cavs bring in another superstar?
''I didn't say that,'' James joked. ''I like the talent part, bringing the talent in, but I didn't say I was taking less.''
NBA rules allow the Cavs to offer James a larger contract than any other team. But there has always been the belief that James would someday bolt his native Ohio to play in a bigger market.
New York is ready to welcome him. His picture has been in the local papers for days, and a large billboard featuring his likeness hangs over Seventh Avenue, just a block from the entrance to Madison Square Garden.
''We've got that same billboard in Cleveland. I say the same way I feel about it being there,'' teammate Daniel Gibson said after the game. ''He's a hot commodity. He's the best player in the NBA. Of course guys want him on their team.''
James loves the building, where he scored 50 points last March in his previous visit, citing its history of concerts and boxing besides just basketball. And he praised new Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni, saying he enjoyed playing in his system when D'Antoni was an assistant with the U.S. Olympic team.
Throw in the multiple questions he was asked about the Yankees, his favorite baseball team - he thinks CC Sabathia would be an excellent replacement for the retiring Mike Mussina - and it's easy to see James in a Knicks uniform during the 2010-11 season.
But he's uncomfortable talking about the idea right now, especially with the Cavs off to a 11-3 start that's shown they're a contender to reach the finals again this season.
''I think right now, you know I just want to continue to just to focus on what I have at task now, being with the Cavs and us getting better every day to compete for an NBA championship,'' he said. ''To bring that type of distraction to our team would be unfair to my team, my teammates, coaching staff and the rest of the organization.''
But James, treated to a loud ovation during pregame introductions, is enjoying the attention. The Knicks are only one of perhaps a dozen or more teams gearing themselves up for a potential LeBron push in two summers.
''I am flattered (by) the rumors going around that they would love me to be part of their team. I can't sit up here and say I'm not flattered by that or like the fact that it's happening,'' he said. ''But right now I'm with the Cavs. But to answer the question, yes. Every team hopes someday maybe to make a push at trying to get me in two years and we'll see what happens.''
LeBron visits NYC, Knicks want to party like it's 2010
Nov. 26, 2008
By Ken Berger
CBSSports.com Senior Writer
NEW YORK -- Not even Michael Jordan teased and tantalized Knicks fans this cruelly.
LeBron James walked into Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, lavished praise on the city and its fans, called the coach of the Knicks an "offensive mastermind," and then cooled on the bench for the entire fourth quarter when his own offensive mastery was no longer needed.
The stars all came out -- Jay-Z and Beyonce, Q-Tip and Kanye -- but they came to see nothing of interest. They might as well have waited until November 2010.
"I don't know if it's going to happen," said James, luxuriating in the attention generated by the Knicks' all-out maneuvering for his services. "I'm so focused on this season and what we have at task with the Cavs that it's hard to think about that date. But at the same time, you have to stay open minded if you're a Knicks fan."
As the final two minutes of the third quarter slipped away, No. 23 had 23 points. If LeBron had stayed in his hotel room and not scored any, the Cavaliers would still have been leading the Knicks by 11. Even with LeBron sitting on the bench with 26 points for the final 12 minutes, Cleveland still won, 119-101.
The Garden crowd, unaware of LeBron's pregame flirtation, gave him a decent ovation -- nothing extraordinary -- during introductions. And yet he still said afterward, "Much respect to the Knick fans."
"Every time I come here, it's a warm feeling," James said. "Just because you know the history; it's not just basketball. It's everything that's ever gone on -- concerts, boxing, everything that ever went on at Madison Square Garden. And being a basketball junkie like myself, how could you not love being in this building? So I can't sit up here and say that it's not great to be here and play here."
Then he paused and added with a playful smile, "And I'm saying playing here as a Cavalier, not being here all the time."
There would be no 50-point game like last March in this building, no drama at the end. But as much as James enjoyed all the attention -- and boy, is he starting to enjoy it -- he was only able to hint at the story behind the story.
James has been dodging questions for so long about where he might go if he left Cleveland that a nuance to his speech has gone unnoticed. He has begun describing the idea of declining his player option on July 1, 2010 not as a possibility, but a certainty.
"If you guys want to sleep right now and don't wake up until July 2010, then go ahead," James said. "Because it's going to be a big day. ... I think July 1 of 2010 is a very big day. It's probably going to be one of the biggest days in free agent history in the NBA."
He's right about that. It doesn't mean he's leaving, but it means that he's flat-out declining the player option and testing the market. And he won't be the only one.
"There's going to be a lot of free agents out there in 2010," he said.
No fewer than 39 potential unrestricted free agents either have player options they can turn down (LeBron, Chris Bosh, and Dwyane Wade) or termination rights (Yao Ming, Amare Stoudemire, Michael Redd, Paul Pierce, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, and Richard Jefferson) in July 2010.
Many of them signed their current deals specifically so they can opt out during the current collective bargaining agreement, which owners complained at the recent Board of Governors meeting is "too sweet," according to a person familiar with the situation. The vast majority of them are going to exercise those rights and become free agents, because they don't know how much money will be there later.
Billy Hunter, executive director of the NBA Players Association, warned last night that any potential free agent who waits around for a new CBA will do so at his own peril. Owners almost certainly won't extend the CBA through the 2011-12 season, so it is set to expire on June 30, 2011.
"We're going to make every effort to get a deal," Hunter said. "But I have to plan as if there will be an eventual lockout."
Another factor: By the time the owners and players start negotiating around the All-Star break, the league may be looking at some very grim revenue projections because of the economic downturn. About half the money that goes to player salaries is safe because it comes from the TV networks. The other half -- tickets, concessions, etc. -- is going down.
Not even Tiger Woods' endorsement deal with General Motors was safe, and that development was not lost on James.
So while LeBron mentioned Tim Duncan as someone he admires because he took shorter contracts and less money so the Spurs could pay complementary talent and win titles, that doesn't mean he'd do the same.
"I didn't say that," he said. "I like the talent part, bringing the talent in, but I didn't say I was going to take less."
He can get the most money from the Cavs, either by re-signing with them or in a sign-and-trade. He is already on record as saying he will go where he can win the most championships. At this point, all that is certain is that he'll decline the player option and take it from there.
"He's not telling the team anything different than he's telling the media," a person with knowledge of the Cavs' situation said. "I don't think he knows."
Clearly, the Knicks know what they want. They want LeBron so badly that on Tuesday team president Donnie Walsh turned down a chance to nullify Friday's trade with the Clippers despite concerns over Cuttino Mobley's heart condition. Walsh tried to work the situation for a better deal, but the only option was to take back Zach Randolph and his $17.3 million due in 2010-11.
"Not an option," a person familiar with the Knicks' strategy said.
The fans who filed to the exits -– trains to catch, paint to watch dry –- in the third quarter Tuesday night didn't think this was much of an event. They were looking at the glass half empty. Those who see the Knicks' salary cap less than half full in 2010 couldn't be happier.
"It's important for everybody for that team to be good," a Western Conference general manager said. "I've got to think that the league is happy with what's going on. I'm not saying conspiracy theory, but let's be real."