This isn’t one of those weak open letters to some Joe Blow, helping him out, giving him unsolicited advice, telling him what to do and what not to do.
It’s a weak open letter to LeBron James, helping him out, giving him unsolicited advice, telling him to sign with … the Utah Jazz.
And it goes like this:
Don’t do it, man. Do not. I repeat, do not sign with the L.A. Lakers. That’s so predictable. It’s a cliche. It’s been done time and time again. Sign instead with the Jazz. That’s never been done.
The Lakers have had their titles. Go there and join the club, a very crowded club of champions, a club that has names among which yours will get lost. You won’t stand out. You won’t achieve anything there that hasn’t been achieved before. You’ll simply be another Jerry, Wilt, Kareem, Earvin, James, Shaq, and Kobe. You’ll add nothing extra to that tradition. Nothing extraordinary. And if you can’t win a championship at Staples, they’ll blot out your memory with the next star or group of stars lured by Hollywood in free agency.
They come, they go in purple and gold. Whatever.
You want to extend your legacy, you want to step away from the herd, you want to do something amazing, you want to shock the world, you want to make a huge splash, you want to build your brand?
Go your own way. Go to the Jazz.
You want to do something that’s never been done before?
Win Larry O’Brien’s trophy in Utah, with a Jazz note on your chest.
That would be unique. That would start a whole new trend. That would be one in a million. That would be unforgettable.
Some greats have played here before: Maravich, Stockton, Malone.
But none of them could do what you can do — lift the franchise to the top of the basketball world. It would be historic.
I know what you’re thinking: “Utah? You go live in Utah.”
Salt Lake City is no Amish village … not that there’s anything wrong with the Amish or villages. It’s grown up, your Kingship. It’s a real city now. There’s a few million people living along the Wasatch front. There are restaurants and bars and theaters and smog and traffic and potholes and escalating real-estate prices and government corruption and all manner of crime and the other bonuses and badges of honor that come with sophisticated city living.
And there’s the great outdoors, too. Mountains fit for a King. There’s no Mount Olympus in Cleveland or Los Angeles.
But it’s bigger than just that.
There’s a franchise here that has great ownership, great leadership, great coaching, great facilities, great hot tubs, great work-out rooms, great cryo-chambers, a great arena, great uniforms, great fans, and, most importantly, a great young team.
The players the Jazz already have make what you played with in Cleveland look like the scrubs down at the 40-and-over rec league at 24 Hour Fitness. They’re really, really good, and with you, they could be greater than great. They could be better than the Warriors. And that’s what you want, right? To wipe that cheesy grin off Steph Curry’s face, to stick it good to Kevin Durant, to punch Draymond Green in the onions, to show the planet that you’re not done winning championships.
And here’s the best part: You don’t have to form a super team to do it.
You don’t have to cheapen the whole thing by rigging it up.
All you’ve got to do is show up here and be you.
The other parts are in place, arms outstretched, parts that most people around the league underestimate and under-appreciate. And again, that’s perfect. It’s like a stock, ready to buy, before it blows through the roof. You not only get richer for being smart, you get the credit for the success of a team that just needs, as Donovan Mitchell put it, one more piece.
You are that piece, LeBron.
Come to a place where they play basketball the way you like it played — heads up, via the pass and another pass and another. Outsiders think you’re a one-man show. But you’ve never wanted to play that way.
Picture yourself taking the floor alongside Mitchell, enabling him to spin and drive and tomahawk dunk, as he takes a major scoring load off your shoulders and adds enjoyment and energy to your aging basketball soul. See yourself playing alongside unselfish, team-oriented guys like Ricky Rubio and Joe Ingles. Watch Joe shoot bombs, watch the net snap. Envision yourself at the defensive end, having Rudy Gobert behind you, swatting away shots, initiating the break, allowing you to get a few steps down the floor for easy transition baskets. Imagine allowing hustle players such as Royce O’Neale and Jae Crowder to dive for loose balls, to haul the garbage, while you work your wonders, doing what only the King can do.
You’ve got the superstar trifecta — LeBron, Donovan and Rudy, with none of the ego outside of your own. And a supporting cast that will do whatever — mop the floor, clean the glass, bust heads — needs doing to bring the prize home.
You’ve got Quin Snyder, one of the brightest minds in the game, a brighter mind than anyone in Cleveland or L.A., a mind worthy of your respect.
You’ve got a fanbase that will scream their guts out for you, as soon as you’re theirs. A fanbase that will embrace you, but leave you alone in your private moments, a fanbase that will one day come and take pictures of themselves at the foot of the statue of you that will be erected after the work is done.
It makes so much sense, your LeBron-ness.
Joining a rising team that would rise without you, but that with you will rise to the absolute pinnacle of the NBA. There’s no extra elasticity needed to stretch the imagination that far. It’s plain to see.
And L.A. — and all those plans you have for producing movies and television shows and records and such — is only 700 miles away, a short flight from Salt Lake International. Half of Utah is made up of Californians, anyway. When Sundance is going, the biggest film stars flock here. Come lounge and eat at Bob Redford’s place.
You want to be you, LeBron. You want to do something different. You want to cut a new path. Your path. You don’t want to follow in the footsteps of others. You want to be an original. You’ve won rings in the past, but nobody has ever won a ring in Utah.
This team, this franchise, this state is waiting. Waiting on you.
All you’ve got to do is dial up Dennis Lindsey. He’ll take your call.
Shock the world, LeBron. Shock the world.
Forget L.A. That’s Magic’s town.
This is the place. They’ve got a monument here that declares that very thing. This is God’s country. The Promised Land. There’s already a prophet here. But there’s room for a King.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone.