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June 26, 2014

Legacy built on service, not on hopscotch

NORMAN — I wasn’t recording, but driving, when I heard it, so maybe I don’t remember it perfectly, but it doesn’t much matter because all of it was ridiculous.

Former Wisconsin coach, New York Knick coach and NBA administrator Stu Jackson was asked how he would frame a LeBron James-worthy pitch, now that James’ agent (rich that it wasn’t James himself, given “The Decision”) has told the Miami Heat his client will opt out of his contract and pursue free agency (which doesn’t necessarily mean he won’t be back with the Heat).

Anyway, Jackson went on and on about how the thing that’s going to appeal to James, because James wants to be thought of like a Russell, a Byrd, a Kobe, a Michael (he didn’t say Abdul-Jabbar, but it must have been an oversight) is championships. 

So, if you want to lure James to your city, you better tell him how you’re going to build around him, allowing him to chase that legacy he wants so badly. You know, a championship legacy.

Guess what?

The guy’s held a bunch of cool jobs but Jackson A) doesn’t know the history of basketball, nor B) the history of sports and C) has no idea how people with a sense of that history actually think about sports.

Because if James wants to build a legacy worthy of the game’s absolute greats, and as a championship player, he’s got one choice and one choice only and that’s to stay in Miami.

It would have been better had he stayed in Cleveland, where he could have had what most of the guys on Jackson’s list had (unbeknownst to Jackson, apparently), a career tenure with the same franchise.

But if James can stay in South Beach the rest of his career, at worst, he’ll be remembered as a guy who only hopped for greener grass once. Also, he could have 10 good years left and the Heat should be in the thick of it every season, and who wouldn’t want to play with him?

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