The next six weeks are going to show us plenty in terms of what kind of person LeBron James is. And what kind of legacy he really wants.
Does James want glory beyond wealth? Does he want iconic stature above winning? Does he want the spotlight or can he share it?
All of these will be answered this summer.
James is going to take his time with this free-agent thing. We know that. That's the smart thing to do. Let every team make a pitch and then consider all the options.
At least, let's hope that's why he's going to take his time. Let's hope it's not just to bask in the recruiting limelight, something he never got to do in high school since he skipped college completely (which was the right move, by the way).
James' decision ultimately is going to define him. Think about how each different option will be viewed in the perspective of basketball history.
What if James goes to New York or New Jersey? Either one. Doesn't matter. He's clearly stating that the world's grandest stage is more important to him than having the world's best team. He'll be the ultimate showman in the ultimate city. But he will not be winning any championships for a year or two.
What if James goes to Miami? He's going to be admitting that he can take or leave the lion's portion of the spotlight. He'll be teaming with Dwyane Wade, who isn't the same level of superstar as James, but certainly is in the next strata below. And remember, Wade has a ring already. Joining the Heat will leave LeBron looking like a player who values playing with the best as well as being the best.
What if James goes to Chicago? He's going to end up looking like the big brother riding in to save the day for Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah. Because, let's face it, the Bulls are a nice young team but going nowhere in their current form. If James wants to be the man, but also have a chance for immediate gratification, it would be a perfect fit.
What if James goes to Dallas? Don't worry, we're not trying to sell anybody on it having a great chance of happening. But it is a place where James would have the opportunity to have his rightful place atop the basketball world and still have a great chance of winning big right away. We know Dirk Nowitzki would be an accommodating sidekick. And as we've seen, with Dirk as your No. 1 player, you can be a really good team that could have won a title but came up short. With Dirk as your No. 2 player, you can start drawing up the parade route. You would become instantly the favorite (or co-favorite, at least, with the Lakers) in the West. And if James wants to be the iconic figure not only during his career but after, he should have dinner with Roger Staubach.
Lastly, what if James stays in Cleveland? If that happens, we can only assume that James is a hometown kid at heart, that he'd like to visit the bright lights of New York, but doesn't want to live there. That he values comfort over the challenges and unknowns beyond Ohio. That he really wants to be a big sports savior in a relatively small, and mostly tortured, community. And there's nothing wrong with that, by the way.
The bottom line is that the future is going to be modeled by LeBron's decision on where to take his services this summer.
And his legacy, too.