It has reached the point, almost at the speed of text, where you start to believe that even people in outer space are starting to believe that LeBron James just might have one more move left in him, and that the move is going to be to Los Angeles after he plays one more year in Cleveland. It would mean that this time around he gave the Cavs the same four years he gave Miami before he went home promising to deliver a title, which he sure did.
And if L.A. is going to be the next stop for him, think about just how much crazy, La La Land stuff will come into play with a guy, James, who really started the current arms race in the NBA -- even if he says he didn't -- by leaving Cleveland the first time to go work for Pat Riley, formerly of the La La Land Lakers and still the big boss in Miami.
You remember all of that like you remember your screen name, LeBron having that cheesy television special and finally telling people he was taking his talents to South Beach. Only now people don't think he's going south. They thinking he's going west, first chance he gets.
And that might mean Jerry West.
West: Who just made a big deal with the Clippers for what he calls the last great adventure of his extraordinary basketball life. Or it might mean LeBron goes with Magic Johnson, who runs the Lakers now, and with whom West -- and Riley -- won championships when it was West calling the shots with the Lakers.
If all these intersecting narratives are making you dizzy, join the club. But it is hardly impossible that LeBron might eventually make the same move out of Cleveland to throw in with either West or Magic that he made to throw in with Riley, who used to be in Los Angeles with, well, you know, West and Magic. And one of the reasons that he might make this move -- if he makes it -- is because he's decided that he can't win more titles in Cleveland; because in his great heart he's convinced himself he can't beat a Warriors team for which West was an extremely high-profile executive board member before he decided to go home to L.A.
There is no guarantee that any of this is going to happen, of course, even though there seems to be a bad moon rising in Cleveland now that David Griffin is out as general manager, and LeBron put out that tweet that basically said that if nobody else appreciated Griffin's work with the Cavs that he, The King, sure did. By the way? If you're keeping score at home, we are soon going to be talking about two general managers and two coaches with the Cavs since LeBron decided to once again take his talents back to Lake Erie.
If you want to know the force of LeBron's brand, and the force of his immense star power even after he lost the NBA Finals in five games, here it is for you: As we approach the NBA draft, the Celtics and Sixers have already made one deal and Phil Jackson is floating the chumpwit notion of making a deal that might involve Kristaps Porzingis, but the guy everybody is talking about is LeBron. One year after Kevin Durant shocked the world by signing with the Warriors as a free agent and turning them into the Guardians of the Galaxy, people are already speculating what LeBron might do as a free agent a year from now. The guy can throw shade on the whole NBA draft almost without saying a word.
In so many ways, though, Jerry West is almost as intriguing a player in all of this speculation as LeBron is. Because what if in the same career as an executive, West has a hand in bringing LeBron James to the Clippers after making a trade for Kobe Bryant (after the Hornets originally drafted Bryant) and then later brought Shaquille O'Neal to play with Kobe?
West has already established himself as one of the great executives of all time, whether he can pull off a deal for LeBron in 2018 or not. He is a righteously extraordinary figure, not only an iconic player who played in nine NBA Finals in his career with the Lakers -- but also the iconic player who then went on to build a Hall of Fame career for himself as the Lakers' general manager. John Elway is trying to be that kind of executive with the Broncos, a franchise that has been to two Super Bowls while Elway has been in charge and won one.
West? He already is that kind of executive. And a guy who understands, truly, even better than LeBron does, what it is like to go up against a team that is better than yours when it is time to play for the title. Out of those nine trips to the Finals, West's Lakers only won once, going up against Bill Russell, the greatest winner of them all, year after year. LeBron has now made eight trips to the Finals and has done better than West did, putting together a Finals record of 3-5. They come out of different NBA worlds, the two of them do. But not entirely different experiences.
West never left Los Angeles. LeBron has left Cleveland once, and could do it again. And now, as he wants the Cavaliers to somehow find at least one star player who might be a difference maker against the Warriors, he will be working with a new general manager. Not only that, how do the Cavs attract the kind of star they need if the whole world knows that LeBron might be about to say goodbye to Cleveland in a year?
There is always the idea that the Knicks might be in play. But then you have to wonder what kind of appeal that would have for him, since LeBron has already played high school basketball.
This is what West told Broderick Turner of the Los Angeles Times about Kobe Bryant's workout for the Lakers in 1996:
"The one thing that you could see in all the drills was how competitive he was and how knowledgeable he was about the game. The thing you could not ignore was his enormous skill level. He was clearly, I mean clearly, head and shoulders above the people that we had brought in -- just completely head and shoulders."
It was the same way with LeBron James once when he was the kid coming out of high school head and shoulders above everybody else. Now he is 32, going on 33. He wants to win more titles and now has to ask himself if his best chance to win them is in Cleveland. Jerry West's only chance to win again is in L.A., where he's going to be a lot more than an executive board member for a team playing in the same building as do the Lakers. Who are run by Magic now. Who won with West in L.A. before Shaq and Kobe did.
Maybe the whole thing with LeBron is a crazy dream, for both West and Magic. Like the dream sequence in "La La Land." But if you're not going to dream out there, where are you going to?