While LeBron James addressed reporters before Thursday’s game against the Bulls, Shaquille O’Neal walked past and whispered, “Five million if you do it right now.”
LeBron laughed and said, “No way.”
Shaq shot back with, “Ten million, final offer.”
Whatever they were talking about, James did not accept the challenge.
On Friday, the Cavaliers will make their one and only visit to Madison Square Garden this season to play the Knicks. Naturally, much of the pregame discussion was about the chances of James jumping to New York as a free agent next summer.
I figured it was a good chance to ask, “What about the Bulls?”
“I’ve thought about playing everywhere,” James answered. “Every team in the NBA, I’ve thought about playing at one time in my life.”
“Even the Clippers?” someone asked.
“Everywhere. At one point in my life, I’ve thought about playing for every NBA team," James continued. "All of them.”
James is expected to opt out of his contract and become a free agent next summer, same as Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and a number of NBA stars. The Bulls plan to have enough cap room to chase a major free agent.
As the chat continued, James emphasized that he’s planning to keep his options open and is not about to commit to the Knicks, Cavs or anyone until the time comes.
“I’ll say the same thing every time,” James said. “When July 1 gets here, I’m going to approach it like a businessman and approach it the best way that fits LeBron and his family.
“But I’ve been a Cav for seven years now and I’ve never given any indication of leaving. For me to say, ‘I’m not going to be a Knick and I’m going to be a Cav.’ Or ‘I’m not going to be a Cav, I’m going to be a Knick’ – I’m not going to do that right now because I did a three-year contract for a reason. That was to leave my options open.”
James did say one line that might be telling. Many have speculated that he won’t look at the Knicks because he has a better chance of winning a title with the Cavs. But really, any team with James becomes an instant title contender.
If the Cavs were sitting here with Mo Williams, Anderson Varejao, Anthony Parker, Delonte West and a couple of centers who might be in their final NBA season – would anybody be saying Cleveland is a place where LeBron has the best chance of winning?
“ I feel like it doesn’t matter where I’ll be, I’m good enough to try to help the team win basketball games,” James said. “I’m looking forward to winning an NBA championship here. It’s going to be a long season and I can’t think about hat’s going to happen July 1 or after that when I decide what I’m going to do.”
TYRUS PLANNING TO PLAY
Bulls forward Tyrus Thomas caught a commercial flight to Cleveland this afternoon and apparently is ready to play.
He was checked out by Bulls team physician Kathy Weber before making the trip. He expressed confidence that he doesn’t have swine flu, but had some rough moments the past two days.
“It was bad. Like death,” he said. “Nah, it was bad, helpless. Fever, chills, vomiting, couldn’t eat. But I’m better, so…”