Andrew Murawa is an RTC columnist.
Two summers ago, Lebron James held the attention of basketball fans as he pondered the big “decision” about where he would continue his career. After playing his first seven seasons in his hometown of Cleveland, James was a free agent and being pursued by numerous NBA teams who had spent years freeing up space under the salary cap in order to be able to make a pitch for his services. As we all now know, after much deliberation, James opted to turn his back on the Cavaliers and other suitors in favor of taking his “talents to South Beach” to play alongside superstar Dwyane Wade as well as all-star forward Chris Bosh.
On Wednesday, college hoops fans get “The Decision” times two, as the nation’s two biggest recruits – Nerlens Noel and Shabazz Muhammad – will both announce which college campus they will be taking their talents to next season. Noel is considering Syracuse, Georgetown and Kentucky, while Muhammad garners the attention of fans across the country as he considers UCLA as well as Kentucky and Duke, already having eliminated schools like UNLV, Arizona, Kansas and others from consideration. At this point, depending on whom you ask, either the Bruins or the defending champion Wildcats are the favorite, with the Blue Devils seemingly a distant dark horse, but until his name adorns a National Letter of Intent to one of those schools, it is all guesswork.
To avoid rehashing the guesses of those with partial information, we’ll compare the choices in Muhammad’s hand to the teams that “King James” considered when he made his fateful decision in July 2010.
Lebron : Cleveland Cavaliers :: Shabazz : UNLV
Why this analogy works: When James signed with Miami, he crushed the hopes of Cleveland fans who had hoped that the hometown kid would stick around to continue trying to build the Cavaliers into a long term winner. James grew up in Akron, just 45 minutes south of Cleveland, while Muhammad will graduate from Las Vegas’ Bishop Gorman High School this spring. But, just like James and Cleveland, Muhammad will forsake his hometown to ply his trade elsewhere at a bigger and historically more successful program. And, in both cases, if either player had landed with either one of these teams, those teams (the Cavs and the Rebels) would have been very good teams but not quite the favorite to take down the championship.
Why this analogy is flawed: The Cavs were apparently a significant possibility in James’ decision until very late in the process, while the Rebels faded from consideration some time ago.