Despite the promise of significantly more cash, Cliff Lee turned down the New York Yankees to play with his buddies in a city he likes better.
And despite promises that he’d be the king of the greatest city in the world with endless endorsement potential, LeBron James rejected the New York Knicks in favour of playing with his pals in the gorgeous young town of Miami.
This hasn’t happened before. When New York teams want something, they get it. They can almost always blow competitors out of the water financially, and superstars have typically been enamoured with performing under the bright lights where legends are made.
But Lee and LeBron bucked the trend. What gives? LeBron’s situation is a bit more understandable. He wanted to play with his friends and was sick and tired of the pressure of carrying a team on his own. He’ll still rake in over $110 million and mistakenly thought that he’d assembled a dynasty in Miami.
But Lee? The Yankees thought they had him in the bag. Everyone thought Lee was chasing every dollar, as so many free agents do. That meant the Yankees had the clear advantage, and everyone in baseball thought he would sign there, until he didn’t.
Has New York lost its luster? That might be a stretch. This is probably pure coincidence and if you put 10 big-name free agents in a room right now, nine would likely still take the money and come to the Big Apple.
But if you think the New York clubs aren’t a little surprised by this growing trend, you might be mistaken. If we’ve learned anything from LeBron and Lee, it’s that there’s no such thing as certainty when it comes to free agents. And there’s certainly no guarantee that New York’s money and fame are trump cards any more. The Knicks should try to make this deal sooner than later, or New York could end up watching another superstar slip through its fingers.
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