Following the devastating Game 5 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals, LeBron James of the Miami Heat has a tough decision to make this summer. LeBron has the ability to opt out of his contract with the Heat this summer in order to test the NBA free agent market. Although the consensus has been that LeBron will not opt out of his deal with the Heat, the loss to the Spurs may have changed his stance and the opinions of many in terms of the superstar being better off leaving Miami rather than staying. NBA analyst and former player, Charles Barkley, made an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show on June 16 to talk about LeBron’s legacy via LakersNation.com:
“I always find it fascinating…‘Did [Kobe] die or something?’ because LeBron has two championships and they just forget that Kobe has five. And they’re like how good is he compared to Michael Jordan, I say Kobe still has more. I think he’s closer to catching Kobe than he is Michael.”
Barkley has been critical of Kobe Bryant over the years and has praised LeBron the majority of the time. The Hall of Famer changing his stance is somewhat surprising and might be a sign of things to come for the superstar.
Over the past few years, LeBron has been the biggest name on the NBA level with everyone crowning him as the best player in the league. Although many don’t disagree with the sentiment that LeBron has no equal in the league today, the superstar’s resume took a major hit with a third series loss in the Finals.
LeBron has gone to the Finals five times during his NBA career winning twice with the Heat. LeBron’s missed opportunity with the Cleveland Cavaliers back in 2007 didn’t surprise many with the Spurs being the by far the better team compared to an inexperienced Cavs squad.
With Kobe winning five titles with the Los Angeles Lakers and Michael Jordan racking up six championships during his time with the Chicago Bulls, LeBron will always be compared to these two living legends throughout his career. Tough acts to follow, but an inevitable comparison considering the circumstances.
Considering that Kobe signed a two-year, $48.5 million extension with the Lakers back in November of last year, LeBron may see things get even tougher if the five-time NBA champion is able to ad more title to his resume before calling it a career. It is highly doubtful Kobe is able to win one more ring, but anything can happen with GM Mitch Kupchak in the front office.
As for LeBron, the future remains uncertain with the four-time NBA MVP potentially opting out of his deal with the Heat. If LeBron does opt out, the veteran forward could head back to Cleveland or even explore joining the Lakers.
It has been rumored that the Lakers are holding off on bringing in a new head coach with hopes of possibly landing LeBron in NBA free agency. Los Angeles signing LeBron is a long shot at best, but not completely out of the realm of possibility.