In the NBA, it always comes back to Michael Jordan. When LeBron James left Cleveland for Miami four years ago, people could not help but invoke Jordan. When Chicago stumbled against the Pistons year after year, Jordan did not bolt for a better situation. He did not bail when things got difficult.
Of course, it was a silly, lazy way to look at things. It ignored all sorts of different contextual information — particularly the style of roster building that had gained popularity in the league, the constrictions of the NBA’s salary cap and luxury tax and the complete failure of Cleveland management to put him in a position to succeed.
However, in one way, James has always been like Mike: He seemed determined to write his own story. Jordan won three championships, and then walked away from basketball to try his hand at baseball. After nearly two years in the Chicago White Sox minor-league system, he came back to the Bulls, and won three more titles. (Let’s not discuss his sojourn in Washington.) It was a unique path, befitting a player whose talents and will transcended what we had seen before.
Now, James has done the same. (Photo: Mark Duncan/The Associated Press)