I’m all for rooting against the new look Heat, but it is worth saying that a lot of the anti-LeBron commentary of the past couple of days bespeaks a major anti-labor bias in our popular culture. The guy had an offer from one employer and a competing offer from another employer—he took the offer he preferred. Is that really so terrible? Does he really have a moral obligation to work for Dan Gilbert’s for-profit firm indefinitely? Would you like to be told that if you get offered a better job, it’s unethical for you to accept it? I wouldn’t.
What would be best would be for the NBA to do away with the absurdity of the maximum individual salary. Let some team offer James such an astronomical sum of money that it’s not feasible to add other quality players. Let some team pursue a counter-strategy of assembling 7-9 evenly matched players. Let someone offer a star player an equity stake in the team and a low salary.
Meanwhile, recall that Gilbert had the option of trading Wally Szczerbiak’s $13 million expiring contract before the 2009 trade deadline to improve the quality of his team, increase the odds of Cleveland winning a ring in 2009 or 2010 and increase the odds of LeBron James choosing to resign with the Cavs. He chose not to do so. It’s his team, he can do what he wants. But his employees aren’t obligated to continue working for him past the expiration of their contracts if they’re not satisfied with the way the organization is run.