Sports and economies

 NBA,Cleveland,LeBron James

In some cities, particularly smaller ones, sports teams and top athletes can have a massive impact on the local economy. In major cities like New York, L.A. or Chicago the sports teams and best players can have some impact on the local economy but these places are so big and diverse that the impact is limited. Cleveland, Ohio on the other hand is not big enough to avoid major impact from some of its teams and players. I am actually only talking about one particular individual here: LeBron James- NBA player for the Cleveland Cavaliers (you really should know who he is even if you don’t watch sports).

LeBron James, as well as, some of the other top NBA players are free agents this summer. That means that he can sign a new contract with any team that would be willing (or able) to sign him. There is a lot of talk about where he will end up and even local politicians have tried to sway his decisions. The city of Cleveland desperately wants to keep him, but larger markets such as New York and Chicago will do anything to lure him in to play for their team. One of the most respected sports agents and people in the sports business, David Falk, recently said that LeBron James is so important to the city of Cleveland that if he decides to leave, then ”Cleveland’s economy is going to tank”. There is no other athlete in North America, or even the world that is currently in this situation.

There are other players of his caliber in the league, but they all happen to play for larger, more dynamic cities and economies. Falk also said that the state of Ohio will resent him if he leaves and this might actually resonate with James because he was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. In Falk’s opinion, James should not go to Chicago where he will always be compared to Michael Jordan, a comparison that he will not be able to live up to. David Falk does have a lot knowledge on this topic as he is Michael Jordan’s agent. LeBron James should take what he says seriously and give it a lot of thought.

It makes the most sense for LeBron James to stay in Cleveland because he will not gain that many more endorsements by being in a large market like New York anyways. The Cleveland Cavaliers will accommodate him in every way including bringing in the players and coach he wants and they are already not that far from winning the NBA championship. Also, the NBA rules are such that the current team of a free agent can offer the player more money than other teams can which means that he might even make more money by staying put.

I have always thought, and continue to believe that LeBron James will stay in Cleveland and all the media hype that has surrounded this issue for the last 2 years will be all for nothing.