Lebron James signing with the Miami Heat is the best thing that could have happened for hockey in Chicago.Actually, it doesn’t really matter where James ended up–so long as it was not with the Chicago Bulls.
Think about it. Right now the Chicago Blackhawks are the “Number Two” team in Chicago, right after the Bears. Football is so popular in Chicago, that only a dynastic performance by another Sports team would unseat them–like the Chicago Bulls did in the 1990s when they won 6 NBA titles (And yes, “Sports” is a proper noun in Chicago.)
If the biggest free agent in NBA history signed with the Bulls, it would elevate their status to at least that of the Blackhawks. And if Lebron led the Bulls to one or more NBA titles, then they could easily unseat the Bears as the team in Chicago.
Besides, a raving egotist like LeBron would only draw attention to himself–and thus to the Bulls–and away from the Blackhawks and hockey.
The ‘Hawks earned all the attention they are getting in Chicago right now. They won the Stanley Cup. They have a marketable group of young players signed for a long time. And they have legions of new fans.
LeBron James being on the Chicago Bulls would have negated those factors.
In order for hockey to succeed in the Windy City, the Blackhawks have to be great, and all the other sports teams here need to be bad. That is the harsh reality of Chicago Sports. Hockey will continue to grow in Chicago, but only if the Blackhawks remain competitive and the other Sports don’t provide any big distractions.