Picture LeBron James plotting after the NBA Finals. He sits in a conference room at Klutch Sports, the agency that reps him, Starbucks in hand, sporting a T and Nike sweatshorts. Rich Paul, his agent, sits by him with Evernote open on an iPad. An intern stands at a whiteboard, taking notes.
The King and his crew brainstorm the pros and cons of his options—stick with the Cavs and remain the hometown hero; build an empire in Los Angeles or New York; join the league's next dynasty in Philly or Boston; take his talents back to South Beach; chase a ring in 2018-19 with Pop or Chris Paul?
LeBron calculates every decision, on and off the court, with the precision of a machine. As fans finally learned the resolution to this years-long saga Sunday —LBJ is headed to the Lakers on a four-year max contract—we've attempted to provide a peek inside the 33-year-old's head as he made his decision.
To do so, we established 10 categories and ranked eight potential suitors across the criteria. These rankings yielded a LeBron Match Score. We applied double weight to three categories—LeBron's connections to the team, the legacy boost he'd receive for winning a title there, and the lifestyle the team's hometown would afford him—as reports indicated these were his top priorities.
A high score means the destination aligns well with LeBron, and a low score means it aligns poorly. A perfect situation would receive an 8.0 overall, meaning we ranked that team No. 1 in all 10 categories. If we ranked a team dead last in all 10 categories, that destination would receive a 1.0.
Some of the rankings are objective measurements, but others are our subjective opinion. In debating where to position each squad, we cross-referenced every report we could find about LeBron's free agency—like the ones about him disliking Houston and prioritizing his family's comfort over basketball. This method is far from flawless, but it is a step closer to understanding the thought process that led to LeBron James ultimately settling on the Lakers.
Below is the breakdown by team. You can check out the full rankings across each category at the bottom of this post.