Thursday, July 8, 2010

So Who's This LeBron Guy Everyone Keeps Talking About?

Now, I certainly wouldn't be the first person to say that they're tired of this outrageously unnecessary and vain "Decision" special ESPN is airing tonight. I probably won't be the last either. But, uh, I'm tired of this outrageously unnecessary and vain "Decision" special ESPN is airing tonight.

And not just because the screen graphic they made for it is absolutely ludicrous.

No, I'm just tired of it because I've had enough, just like some other major athletes who have been debating their future lately. What was at one point expected to be one of the most cataclysmic, history changing moments in the NBA has become an obscene horse and pony show, and at this point, I don't think I'm out of the majority by saying I just want it to end. Granted, as a Knicks fan, I do want it to end with my team getting the golden calf, but since no one seems to have any clue where on Earth LeBron is going, at this point I'm worn out and done with the suspense.

I want an answer.

But more than an answer at this point, what I want is to be entertained. Thoroughly. If I've had to wait through all these days of irritating round the clock coverage on LeBron that has been nearly as irritating as when they had a health watch running for Barbaro, well, there better be a payoff at the end. And not the kind of payoff I'd get simply from hearing LeBron is a Knick.

I'm talking about something truly fun.

At this point James is not simply a basketball player. He's an entertainer. He'd have to be to make such absurd poses and wear such ridiculous outfits in public. Maybe if we're lucky, he'll come out tonight dressed like an extra from the 1994 Des'Ree classic "You Gotta Be". Then we can have a Calvin Klein photo shoot.

Or maybe he'll come out wearing the same coat he has on in this ad. We can only hope.

Least likely to me seems that he'll wind up wearing this when he takes the stage, though it'd make me awfully happy. More likely, he'll come out in a fine suit and then put on one of those obnoxious College Football Signing Day type setups where he sits behind a table with each school he's interested in attending before he triumphantly picks one hat to the cheers of all his high school class mates.

If that winds up being the case, we could get some particularly solid entertainment if he picks one team and then winds up stuck in Kevin Hart-Type situation when he found out the L.A. Clippers never actually offered him a contract. Now that would be good TV.

Ok, let's be realistic here. That's probably not going to be what we see on TV tonight, particularly if LeBron winds up announcing his decision beforehand on his own website. Of course, it's probably more realistic that he stays in Cleveland to sign with the Browns. Either way, all of us are annoyed that we're being suckered into watching this craptacular lovefest, and yet we're all still going to watch.

At least it's created some good comedy fodder from the interwebs.

In any event, rather than rant about just how annoying all this bullshit is, I may as well just give some idea of where I think the jackass is going. Particularly since Chris Broussard changes his mind every four hours or so. Of course, Broussard isn't the only ESPN talking head who doesn't seem to have a clue, just the most irritating.

All that said, the obvious candidates appear to be Cleveland, New York, Miami and, maybe, Chicago. While many sources are now saying Miami is the place, so he can team up with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade to form something of a super team, this seems, to me, a bit ridiculous. Not because they can't all fit together under the cap. They can. But doing so probably requires them to fill the rest of the bench out with minimum salaried players, the result of which will either be, an extremely mediocre supporting cast or no supporting cast at all when they can't find enough quality minimum-salaried players to the make up a full roster.

As for Chicago, the allure of chasing after Michael Jordan's legacy is the major carrot the Bulls have put out there, but I don't necessarily see that as a selling point, particularly when the recruitment process has seemingly been more adversarial than cordial. Why on Earth would taunting and a guarantee that you will never be loved like Jordan appeal to any free agent?

And then we come to New York, which, perhaps as a bit of wishful thinking, is where I think LeBron will wind up tonight. Now, there are some obvious reasons why this would seem the likely landing spot. LeBron has an obvious love for New York, as shown by his regular wearing of a Yankee hat at nearly all times. Moreover, he has the chance to establish a strong legacy by rescuing a moribund franchise from the brink, as well as do so with another premiere free agent by his side following the Knicks' signing of Amar'e Stoudemire this week.

And there's the money. New York brings in the obvious media spotlight that makes money a major consideration, with the Knicks' own studies showing that LeBron's earning potential in New York is well over a billion dollars and certainly greater than in any other city.

But what really has me convinced are the circumstances surrounding the announcement itself. LeBron's "Special" tonight will be broadcast from the Boys and Girls Club of Greenwich, CT, which just happens to be a short drive from the Knicks' training facilities in Greenburgh, NY. Of course, if you listen to Broussard, James has picked Greenwich because it is neither Cleveland/Akron, nor New York City, which would have made his choice obvious. This would indicate that Broussard apparently knows naught for New York geography, since Greenwich, CT is just as close to New York City as Akron is to Cleveland. I should mention that some detractors point out that LeBron has to be in New York this weekend anyway for Carmelo Anthony's wedding, but to them I point out this:

LeBron James is, uh, rich. And doesn't need to be in New York two days early to be at Carmelo Anthony's wedding. He can fly in whenever he damn well pleases.

So there you have it. LeBron's whole charade is pretty irksome and long, and tiresome, particularly since I don't think he'll stay in Cleveland, which, to me, seems to be where he clearly wants to be. But at least it's given us something to talk about for a few days -- something even more interesting than the sport itself -- and when this chapter is published in NBA history and our kids read about, you'll know you were there. It may not actually be "college signing day crossed with JFK's assassination," but it's certainly something noteworthy in our sports, celebrity and media obsessed culture.

And we are all witnesses.

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