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Chicago is the worst destination for LeBron James

The rivalry between the Heat and the Bulls has steadily been building over the last several years with the disappearance of a playoff-worthy Knicks and only a passing hint of bad blood between state rivals Magic. Things got worse last week when the Chicago media and fanbase were predictably quick to immediately hit back at claims from their once loved hometown son Dwyane Wade after his recent comments questioning the Bulls loyalty. I guess it was a slap in the face to them after the daily nonstop media coverage fawning over a team that looked as bad as any lottery team in the NBA for long stretches of the season. But this isn’t really about any of this silliness. It’s purely about common sense. Chicago is a potential nightmare scenario for LeBron James. His reputation, career and image could take a huge hit if he believes the propaganda and is convinced to take on the impossible task of returning the Bulls to their former glory. It’s a perfect storm for various reasons. Essentially all the supposed positive benefits of playing for the Bulls have the potential to blow up spectacularly in King James’ face. Proximity to Cleveland If the Cavs latest collapse in the playoffs and the subsequent blame laid on his feet is any indication, a move to Chicago will only magnify any future failures his career with the Bulls will surely have. Think about it. James has always had this "hometown" crutch where any of his struggles trying to single-handedly will his team to victory have at least come with a certain respect for his effort in giving his town a championship. (Ironically, Derrick Rose has enjoyed this same benefit in his short career even though he hasn’t even sniffed the Eastern Conference Finals.) He can forget about that as soon as he ditches his hometown team for supposed greener pastures 340 miles away. The pressure from the media and the fans will see to that. Already it’s at a feverish pace a month before free agency begins. Just try to envision how it would get as soon as Jerry Reinsdorf and John Paxson would present James with his new Bulls jersey. There will be no honeymoon. James will be immediately criticized for leaving the Cavs to a rival and nothing short of a ring that very first year in Chicago will be more than enough ammunition for the media and fans to vilify him. Or does he forget what happened when the Cavs lost to the Celtics and his fans booed him? That won’t be anything compared to what awaits him in Chicago when they inevitably lose again in the first or second round of the playoffs. The Bulls roster is good, just not good enough You’ve heard a million times about how good the Bulls roster and how all they need is LeBron to complete the team and raise it to championship glory. Don’t believe the hype. Rose and Noah aren’t good enough to win one championship, let alone the impossible task of eclipsing the six rings that Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen won. A supporting cast including Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng isn’t even much better than the Cavs team that James would be leaving. So why even leave if that’s the case? At least James would get some respect for gallantly staying in Cleveland and sticking it out to win a ring (just like Jordan and Kobe post-Shaq did). What’s going to happen to his stature in the NBA when he’s losing in Chicago for the next 5-6 years and other stars are winning championships during those years instead? A common knock against a potential combo of James and Wade is that they both need the ball to be effective. So how does that change with Rose on board? What is he going to be doing on offense without the ball while James is dribbling that makes this team a dynasty waiting to happen? A lot of people like to knock Michael Beasley around but what exactly has the number one overall pick two years ago shown that he is indeed the best player out of all the options for James to pair up with for playoff glory? The reality is that the Bulls are (barely) good enough to squeak into the playoffs out in the East but there’s little else after that. Look at the stacked teams who went deep in the playoffs and you’ll see how the Bulls would have no chance to beat any of them four times in a series. Noah at 6-11 is a nice player but the Bulls have no one else taller than him currently on the roster unless they have a burning desire to bring back Brad Miller. It’s just basically a collection of swingmen and guards that all measure between 6-3 to 6-8. That’s not going to cut it against the likes of a team like the Lakers with Pau Gasol, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum. If you’re going to tell me that comparing the Bulls to the Lakers is unfair just bear in mind that you’ll need to get through the best to get a ring. And that’s not going to happen on a roster like this one. What’s worse is that because the Bulls are already a playoff team the pressure for James to deliver a ring is immediate. If he chooses to play for the Knicks, Nets or Clippers he’ll be revered for rescuing these perennial losers if they at least can make the playoffs (which shouldn’t be a problem with him on the roster). There’s nowhere to go but up with these teams but with the Bulls and these lofty expectations from the media, fans and the President of the United States the onus to deliver a ring will be immediate. Nobody will be realistically expecting James to win it all with the others instantly and with that comes sensible expectations about what he can do with his new teams. What you see is what you get with Chicago. There will be no more cap space if James is signed but the Nets and Knicks would at least have the cap space flexibility to construct a roster around him. Michael Jordan and his legacy If Jordan’s statue outside the arena won’t be a daily reminder for James to aspire to then his six championship banners and retired jersey will while he’s playing inside. There is a zero chance for James to catch up to Jordan’s accomplishments in Chicago so trying to play under his shadow and the media glare won’t be much fun for someone who has a history of shrinking when times get tough. Jordan will forever be associated with making the Chicago Bulls a winner. If James were to be lured there, he’ll forever be remembered as a failure when compared to #23 and what he was able to achieve. This is also why Dwyane Wade should stay away as well but at the very least he already has a ring and an NBA Finals MVP trophy to fall back on. James does not have that luxury. What’s worse, if you put the Jordan era aside the city has hundreds of collective losing years between the Cubs, Blackhawks, White Sox ('05 champs) and Bears ('85 champs). That's as many championships as the young Florida Marlins have won on their own. Good luck with appeasing those hungry fans! If James wants to win he should sign with the Miami Heat. If he wants to be a global sports icon he should have taken up soccer but being showered with attention in New York is a close second. But if he wants to come up frustratingly short of a ring every year then his only choice is Chicago.