LeBron will enter his 13th season in the NBA this fall as one of the most controversial athletes to ever play the sport. Constantly splattered across ESPN and other media outlets, the superstar draws the appropriate coverage to match his talent. Despite thousands of articles and fans bludgering James, his ability is undisputable. If only his maturity and off court presence could match his elite level of play. Enter Sheamus “Swoosh” McNamara. In the hypothetical world of this article, I will play out how LeBron’s basketball career and life outside of the NBA would have been and continue to be significantly improved (Given that LBJ hypothetically actually listens and heeds my advice).
- Pick a different number
Right from the get-go LeBron James is asking to be paralleled to Michael Jordan. A simple fix is claiming a number for his legacy. In the future when they consider retiring numbers for the whole league, LeBron wont be recognized because he followed behind Jordan’s shadow. Obviously this was his number choice from a young age due to his idolization of MJ at the time, but with the help of his personal advisor he would have went with a different number. Pizzazz floats into the mind along with numbers like 55 or 13 or 0. 88 would be a wide receiver power move.
- LeBron James goes to college
As indisputably the best prospect in the country, St. Vincent-St. Mary’s senior Irishman was a no brainer to enter the league straight from high school. The regulations preventing the “prep-to-pro” transition that James partook in weren’t implemented until 2006, three years after LeBron was drafted first overall by the Cavaliers. Far worse players came straight from their prep high school programs than LeBron contributed -or didn’t- to their respective NBA teams (see Tyson Chandler, Travis Outlaw, Sebastian Telfair, etc.). Looking back it is hard to debate that LeBron made a mistake coming into the league straight from prep. He got his check. He could perform at a high level immediately as showed by his 20.9 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 5.9 apg in his rookie season. And he brought a disgustingly miserable Cavs squad from worst team in the league to a reckoning force within three years.
In personal advisor Swooshes eyes this wasn’t good enough. Go back to 2003. LeBron is instead persuaded by a very convincing personal friend to attend Ohio State for a single year in the NCAA. This sad OSU team (finished 9th in the Big Ten in the 2003-04 season with a saggy 14-16 record) now gets the best young player in the country and is immediately tournament worthy. LeBron builds humbled confidence (needed) and maturity (desperately needed) working under head coach Jim O’Brien. LeBron likely wins the Naismith player of the year award and shatters some weird single season record, but likely busts brackets losing to UConn at some point in the tourney. The records and the tournament aren’t what are crucial about his tenure at Ohio State. What is necessary is the early development of LeBron’s basketball mind. That means having part of a college education with the potential desire to complete school for a degree. That also means building his championship mentality under the coaching of O’Brien. Leading to the NBA LeBron was known for having a couple of coaches but most notably Dru Joyce and Keith Dambrot. Coaching is essential in the development of young talent, even if the talent is destined to be in the discussion for the best player of all time. To this date in his NBA career, Dambrot was his best coach by a long shot. Mike Brown, Erik Spoelstra, and David Blatt have no clue how to operate a team with LeBron at the helm. A strong coach in Jim O’Brien has the capability to mend LeBron’s approach and attitude towards the game through the duration of his college stay. This early development yields a more humble and mature Lebron upon his entrance to the league. He remains cocky because he thinks he is the best player in the world, but O’Brien’s effect makes LeBron a more likeable teammate and deserving champion.
- Bring Jim O’Brien with you to Cleveland
or Dambrot/ a different proven college coach
It’s no question that the Cavs were immediately committed to building their future around LeBron. But their coaching decisions were laughable. In James’ first two years the Cavs juggled around three different coaches. They landed on Mike Brown as the long-term solution, a clear mistake. Mike’s first head coaching position was clearly too much to handle. The connotation of LeBron and potential success in the league apparently meant nothing to the Cavs’ management and front office. Not only did they refuse to bring in a head coach that LeBron agreed with on and off the court, but they refused to use LeBron as an attractive asset to bring in free agent meat and bait trades from other teams (LeBron’s next best three players in the seven years with Cleveland: Larry Hughes, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and a washed up Shaq).
If LeBron hypothetically attended Ohio State with Jim O’Brien he builds a hypothetical strong bond with the coach. When LeBron is drafted to the Cavs and they attempt to shuffle coaches, in slides O’Brien like a giddy five-year-old on a water slide. Not only is this good for the continued development of LeBron himself, it also gives LeBron a better say in what goes on during free agency, draft day, and trade talk. A mature LeBron with a firm connection to his coach wisely make smart signings with their money such as SG Michael Redd instead of Larry Hughes to stretch the floor instead of fight LeBron for the ball. His relationship with O’Brien allows him to be more active during the off-season. Imagine giving a mature James and O’Brien the capability to move resources around to bring in a top ten draft pick in one of the several lotteries that were missed out on during the King’s tenure. You bring in Jim O’Brien and the 2007 Cavaliers look less like Boobie Gibson, Larry Hughes, LeBron, Drew Gooden, and the Big-Z and look more like rookie Mike Conley, Michael Redd, LeBron, Ben Wallace, and Big-Z. The first team made the NBA finals, what you think the second team will do? Instead they refused to make moves to find value in drafts, and struck out in free agencies.
- No “The Decision”
This is somewhat of a, well duh, piece of advice. Any player that fascinates while playing the game will come with some negative fan response, but LeBron James has an unnecessary amount of fans that absolutely loathe him. The majority of these fans wont admit it but it’s mainly because of “The Decision”. Remember, LeBron went to college. He is a more mature and likable human-being off of the hardwood. Now remove the most needless and excessive media stunt by an athletic superstar and LeBron is suddenly a pretty likeable guy. I don’t suggest he can’t leave Cleveland for Miami, as I have no problem with his move, just how he went about it.
- Don’t play to draw foul, play to dominate
*Regardless of this advice, as LeBron’s advisor he will be in the gym >20 hours a week practicing free throws his first five years in the league. He needs to be at minimum 80% career FT shooter.
This is not to say he doesn’t play to dominate. He dominates more than any player in the modern era on a nightly basis. This is to say its clear LBJ thinks he is some kind of knockdown free throw shooter that can afford to draw a foul by going into the defender instead of elevating and scoring over the top. It is understandable due to his legs’ mileage and decreased bounce that he doesn’t dunk on everyone that looks at him weird like he did pre 2009. But he looks for contact for a free throw every time. There is a difference in focusing on contact first then finishing and focusing on finishing first and letting the contact come.
- Smart play in hero situations
Game 1 of the 2015 NBA finals. Despite punishing the Warriors inside all game, LeBron decides he wants a more Chicago Bulls game-winner type of feel and takes a 22-footer fadeaway. LeBron has one of the highest IQs in the league. But his confidence and immaturity often get in the way of his IQ. He had been bruising Golden State all game off of the block. With essentially a full clock he should have brought in down low and worked Andre Iguodala or whoever the smaller defender was. Evading overtime in game 1 avoids the injury to Kyrie Irving (who should not have played a highly illogical 43 minutes coming off an injury) and gives them the upper hand in the remainder of the series. With Irving on a minute limit smartly enforced by head coach Jim O’brien, the world would not have had to endure the hogwash that was Matthew Dellavedova.
All of the 2014 NBA finals. In LeBron’s worst finals other than his first appearance back in 2007, he was constantly depending on facets of his game that weren’t clicking in the series. Then when things didn’t go as planned he attributed his losses to unrelated factors such as cramping from the heat. These type of head games would not exist with college and proper coaching under his belt.
- Make him shave his head
Pretty self-explanatory. He has all this money so his uneducated mind tells him to hold on to the questionable hairline that remains and reinforce it with some fake hair. Now he went to college so he knows better. Just shave it. Go bald. Who cares. Think people will say you shaved your head like Jordan? Who cares, wear a headband. His hairline is another unnecessary spawn of countless loathing fans. Shaving will make him more aerodynamic.
- Play more football
Especially if he attended Ohio State, rumors of him participating in Urban Meyer’s practices would spread like wildfire. Give him a jersey. He doesn’t need to play in any games; just having him on the roster is terrifying. A perfect PR stunt is making him into a two-sport athlete. Two-sport athletes are amazing. Do you know how impressive that is? Bo Jackson. Period. Toss him in a celebrity football game once he gets to the league. Maybe instead of leaving Cleveland for Miami in 2010, he hangs up the Cavs jersey for a couple seasons and starts as TE #23 for the Browns. If you don’t think LeBron could flourish as a TE in the NFL you are delusional. I’d sure as heck pick him in fantasy. Well maybe not if he has Colt McCoy flinging the pig-skin.
- Partner with Warner Bros for actually good movie
LeBron officially signed a content creation partnership with Warner Bros Studios. He has to listen to enough MJ comparisons on a day-to-day basis. I don’t see how making Space Jam 2 will help him at all. LeBron needs an original movie. His own Space Jam. Ideas are as follows:
- WWIII: Ball is Life
- LeBron plays basketball to save the world in an apocalyptic thriller. Lots of dunking on neo-natzis and zombies.
- The Fresh King of Bel-Air
- LeBron comes in as Will Smiths step brother or something and dunks on Aunt Viv.
- The King
- LeBron stars as a superhero named “The King”, who fights crime with characters from previous WB superhero shows (Wonder Woman, Green Arrow, Flash, Batman). Essentially he is a new member of the Justice League. His super power is he dunks on bad guys. Sometimes he breaks their ankles but not as frequently.
- And 1
- A retired and old LeBron teaches poor kids how to be complete ballers. Lots of dunking on little kids.
- The Land before the King
- LeBron travels back in time and dunks on the asteroid that killed all the dinosaurs. He then proceeds to tame several T-Rex into his own pets. Maybe he’ll ride Megalodon too.
- Space Jam 2
- Who are we kidding we all want it. It wont be nearly as good as the first but that’s not the point. Main priority for casting director is bringing back Danny DeVito in some way.
Other ideas include him partnering with HBO to join in the next Game of Thrones season. He slays everyone that sucks in the show and builds a basketball court for executions. The world is introduced to the dunk-decapitation for the first time (it’s exactly what it sounds like). Game of Thrones: King James.
- Partner with Multiple Rappers in Songs
I don’t think anything complex is a smart move here. So maybe just bringing in LeBron as a hype man to yell something every once in a while on a 2Chainz track. He is college educated, maybe he could pull out some intricate verses for a song with A$AP Rocky or someone. What am I saying, he needs to rep Cleveland. I want a full 15+ song mixtape with LeBron and Machine Gun Kelly on every song.
In summary, with the implementation of a few simple suggestions and ear pulls I have made LeBron James into an impeccable idol and role model. His reach outside of the game of basketball touches aspects of the world professional athletes dream of grasping. His playing style is developed ten-fold, winning him three more championships at a minimum to this point in his career. He played a season in the NFL and won me my fantasy season. He stepped out of the shadow of Jordan and is compared for his successes and his talents not for his lack of ability or faltering sense of having his own legacy to leave behind.
In summary, LeBron if you read this, it isn’t too late. Bring me in.