As I touched on in my last post, midnight tonight will mark the beginning of the most anticipated free agency period in NBA history. Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Dirk Nowitzki, Paul Pierce and, oh yeah, LeBron James will test the market, looking for their next big paycheck. The Knicks, my team of choice, have had July 1 circled on their calendar for about two years now, hoping that the bright lights of New York could lure LeBron James (and more) to the Big Apple. As we have neared that fateful date, however, the Knicks' chances of signing a marquee free agent like James or Wade have seemed to dwindle. Talks of LeBron and Bosh heading to Chicago to team up with Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah have heated up. Here's a story that, if true, would put a nail in the Knicks' coffin and make this Bulls #6 jersey a reality.
I heard the following from ESPN's Chad Ford (no, not actually from him face-to-face but on a podcast). Apparently, after every game Michael Jordan played in Chicago, he would go to Gibson's Steakhouse for a post-game meal. MJ would sit at the same table, with the same waiter. Every game. When LeBron heard that Jordan used to do this, he decided to follow suit. Whenever he plays in Chicago, LeBron goes to Gibson's and sits at the same table as Jordan did, with the same waiter as Jordan had. This is not a guy trying to run from Michael Jordan's shadow; this is a guy trying to embrace it. Hell, the dude has worn Jordan's jersey number for the past seven seasons--the comparisons come with the territory.
Granted, there's a huge difference between sitting at the same table as the best player of all time and trying to follow in his footsteps by signing with "his" team. But here's the rub. Ford went to Gibson's to check out this table and see if he could get a scoop from the waiter. This waiter was allegedly a confidante of Jordan's and has since become somewhat of a confidante to James. Ford asked the waiter if he has any insight into where LeBron will sign. The waiter responded, "He's coming to Chicago. He already asked me to reserve his table."
So for what it's worth, Jordan's/LeBron's waiter seems sure that LeBron will be playing in Chi-Town next season. As much as it pains me to say it as a Knicks fan, Chicago makes the most sense of any possible destination. He gets a championship-caliber roster around him (something he doesn't have right now in Cleveland), he's close to home (and we all know how much Akron means to LeBron) and it's not as blatantly a money-grab or a desire for superduperstardom that a move to New York would entail. At this point, I'd be surprised if LeBron DOESN'T go to the Bulls. Well, at least Carmelo Anthony is a free agent next year...