Weekend Winner: The LeBron Combo

Illustration for article titled Weekend Winner: The LeBron Combo

In sports, everyone is a winner-some people just win better than others. Like John Calipari, who is allegedly being shopped around as part of a package deal with James.


You've heard this one, right? Supposedly William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley has contacted the Bulls, Nets and Clippers, telling them that they can land LeBron if they're willing to install Calipari as coach.

This one has all the elements of what makes basketball wheelings and dealings so delightfully sleazy. It's got a star's almost laughably large group of hangers-on, the NBA's top backroom power broker, the only coach who has had Final Four appearances vacated at two different schools, and allegations that look for all the world like tampering.

But that's just how things get done in 2010. And this one seems to pass the "If-Then" smell test. If there were one player so desirable teams would be willing to essentially cede some front office control to, then it would be LeBron, right? If there were one almost mythical figure with the pull to make this happen, and the gall to try in the first place, then it would be Worldwide Wes, right? And if there were one coach ambitious enough to be willing to ride a player's coattails into the league, then it would be Coach Cal, right?

For his part, Calipari says he'll be coaching at UK next year, and dismisses these current rumors out of hand.

And if LeBron's picking his coach, why Coach Cal? He hasn't won a title, even with the top freshman talent (supposedly steered to him by Wesley). He hasn't proven he can succeed in the NBA. Sure he's known as a player's coach, but Mike Brown had the nice-guy schtick down pat, and look where that got him.

The only reasonable explanation is that this would be a display of LeBron's power. The most sought after free agent ever, flexing his muscles and showing he can land perks that no other free agent could. Maybe Wesley and his entourage have convinced him this is a good idea, a way to reassert his dominance after it took a hit on the court against Boston.


No matter if it's true or not, you know any of the teams in position to take the package deal would do so in a heartbeat. If it means landing LeBron, they'd be willing to put a scarecrow on the bench as coach (the Clippers did it for seven years). So the fact that we're even talking about this being in the realm of possibility? Well, I'd say LeBron's got nigh-unlimited bargaining power. The Knicks need to counter with an offer to name the team after him.