Big Urban-Planning Issues: How Do We Get LeBron?

Dare to dream.Photo Illustration: Getty Images, Courtesy of the New
York Knicks

It’s been a bad week for massive urban-planning projects. First came news that Madison Square Garden would be renovating instead of moving into the Moynihan Station megadevelopment across Eighth Avenue. Then various reports indicated that Atlantic Yards is in trouble — specifically the Nets arena, slated to be the first building completed, might not be done for six years. This news, obviously, has huge ramifications for the city’s economic competitiveness, its housing market, its neighborhoods. Yeah, that’s all huge — but how does it affect the important stuff, like basketball?! NBA megastar LeBron James can opt out of his contract in the summer of 2010, and since he’s currently treading water with inferior teammates in Cleveland, many speculate that he’ll look to get more wins (and, just as important, more exposure) elsewhere. Both the Knicks and Nets have been mentioned as options if either of them is able to get its budgets in line to make a bid, but the Nets’ theoretical candidacy was premised mainly around the assumption that their glamour quotient would increase exponentially with the move to Brooklyn. If the stadium’s not going to be done till 2014, the odds on LeBron’s joining the team have to suffer (especially with the Knicks rolling out more easily achievable plans to spiff up the Garden fairly quickly). In the end, the Nets might be left looking a little lonely — and maybe the Knicks won’t even need Donnie Walsh so much as just a sprinkle of our homegrown models and bottles to lure the golden boy our way. —Ben Mathis-Lilley