Forget all the usual guesses about where LeBron James should go play this summer. How about something ... original? How about Charlotte? Take it away, William C. Rhoden!
Most athletes are destined to be overtaken by the next new thing - unless they become Babe Ruth, Joe Louis, Jackie Robinson or Ali. The only way to achieve such stature is to do something bold and timeless, like taking an unpopular stand or making an unpopular move. For you, LeBron, that would be leaving Cleveland to join forces with Jordan in Charlotte. Jordan wins his first N.B.A. championship as an owner, you win your first as a player. Then another. And another.
Well, it would be unpopular, so I guess Rhoden has that going for him. But original? Pfft ... we can do better. Here are some places LeBron really should be considering this summer.
Boston: Speaking of following in the footsteps of legends - why not Boston? Larry Bird? Bill Russell? Red Auerbach? LeBron would become the next great sports hero in the greatest sports town in the world. NO ONE DENIES THIS!
Charlotte: Because of MJ.
Chicago: Because of MJ.
Cleveland: It's not Detroit!
Dallas: LeBron and Mark Cuban would be a match made in heaven, and I could think of no better stage for LeBron to play than in Cowboys Stadium.
Denver: LeBron could totally become the first player-coach since Russell here. I mean, come on, Denver's coaches don't even run anything anyway.
Detroit: LeBron's presence would bring Pistons fans back to the games and singlehandily restore the crippled Detroit economy. Then, LeBron could become a world hero!
Golden State: New owner, great fanbase, new energy - what better place to go to be beloved?
Houston: What better way to become the next big thing in China than to team up with China's most popular athlete?
Indiana: It's basketball heaven in Indiana, don't you remember? If LeBron goes to Indiana, he can restore that proud tradition.
LA Clippers: It's LA, he'll get to be the rival to Kobe Bryant and the Clippers will literally let him do anything he wants.
LA Lakers: It's LA, he'll get to play with Kobe and Phil Jackson, and the Lakers will win the next ten titles.
Memphis: The Grizzlies will lose Rudy Gay, which clears the way for LeBron to sign there and play with O.J. Mayo, a guy who I'm sure would get along well with LeBron.
Miami: Come on now. D-Wade. South Beach. No state income tax. It's a no-brainer.
Milwaukee: Uhh ... nevermind, I got nothing here.
Minnesota: LeBron could convince Ricky Rubio to come and prove to everyone that he can play with an elite pass-first point guard.
New Jersey: He'll get to play for Mikhail Prokhorov, a young core that includes an elite center and several promising young players and in a market that's basically New York. It's everything New York offers, but with what likely would be a better team.
New Orleans: LeBron could rescue Chris Paul's career, convince the team to open their checkbooks and revitalize a town that's been so beaten down in recent years.
New York: This goes without saying.
Oklahoma City: Could you imagine LeBron and Kevin Durant as teammates?
Orlando: No state income tax and Dwight Howard makes this an attractive spot. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Philadelphia: Here's a city that needs a star, and LeBron would be that star to follow in the footsteps of Dr. J, Moses, Barkley and Iverson.
Phoenix: Beautiful weather, Steve Nash, Amare Stoudemire and a top-notch training staff that'll keep him healthy.
Portland: The best fans in basketball combined with several great young pieces and a billionare owner.
Sacramento: Just imagine the devastating basketball experiment of putting LeBron with the guy once called the "LeBron of point guards."
San Antonio: A winning organization with a great coach and the ultimate team player in Tim Duncan. LeBron wants to win, doesn't he?
Seattle: LeBron could pick four high school prep stars from Seattle, start playing in a semi-pro league and eventually create enough momentum where the NBA would have no choice but to let Seattle get it's team back. Then, LeBron will have really created his own legacy.
Toronto: It's north of the border, but pro athletes love it there. Plus, Chris Bosh.
Utah: They have crazy fans that would love LeBron even more unconditionally than Cleveland fans, if that's possible.
Washington: He'll get to hang out with President Obama, the only other person who might be more famous than him.
You're welcome, newspaper columnists. I've just given you your hook for your next original "Where will LeBron James go this summer" column.