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Friday, July 09, 2010

The LeBron James Show

What should have happened last night on ESPN was that LeBron James took the microphone, thanked every team for cooperating completely with him during his process, announced that he wanted to have fun playing with friends and winning titles and that Miami happened to be the place where Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are, and then thanked Cleveland profusely for all of the opportunities and all of the support, as graciously and humbly as possible given the fact that he was bound to disappoint his hometown. I didn't agree with LeBron's process or his (now total) self-absorption, but I would have done the same thing that he did -- go to Miami with great players and try to bring home titles.

Instead, he created a spectacle that was almost as bad as what Rocky put on during training for his first fight with Clubber Lang in Rocky III. All that was missing were celebrity spectators, long mink coats, cigars, a ring announcer and dancing girls. What was about as bad was the fawning that ESPN did, and the back-drop of the Boys & Girls' Club of Greenwich, where I hope that the kids there learned some positive message about character as opposed to a mixed one about stardom and spectacle.

A few other points:

1. New York, generally, are being sore losers about LeBron. I saw one headline (perhaps the Post that called him "LeBum," and another lead article saying that the best city in the world didn't really need him. The Knicks were classy, but the Knicks' organization has been a joke for over ten years, especially during the Isiah Thomas' reign, so the city and its fans should be careful about dissing LeBron when the prized franchise has run itself so poorly for a long time. I'm sure that the prospect of playing alongside Eddy Curry was really enticing. The Knicks did make a good run, and I'm sure that the ability to hobknob with monied people who could help enhance his brand would have excited LeBron. But, in the end, playing with Amare Stoudemire just wasn't enough, especially when you can play with Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade.

2. The Bulls still will be a good team, now that they just added Carlos Boozer to a strong rebounding team. Boozer. Rose. Noah. Not too bad.

3. What intrigued me all night was what Kobe Bryant must be thinking. I told my wife that he was probably storming around his house like an angry bull, not angry with Coach Phil or with any of his teammates, but angry that somehow LeBron and Wade were referred to as the two best players in the game and he wasn't mentioned. I'm sure he's thinking, I've won many more championships than those guys, and boy am I and my teammates going to show everyone next year that we'll repeat and repeat again, because I am the best player in the game. Kobe will use this as a motivator to stick it into the teeth of any team that tries to get in the Lakers' way. Don't count the Lakers out, not by a long shot.

So there you have it, the headline-stealing NBA in the middle of a steamy summer. The Heat now have the bullseye on their backs, not only in terms of what game every opponent will get up for, but for all of the free agents with limited skills who'll want to populate the roster and try to get a ring. They still will need a 1 and a 5, and they'll still need LeBron and D-Wade to demonstrate that they can play together. Remember, the analogies to the Celtics "Big Three" are not totally on point, because Messrs. Allen, Pierce and Garnett did prove that they could complement each other. It remains to be seen whether a regulation-size NBA court can accommodate both Dwayne Wade and LeBron James.

But it will be a lot of fun watching -- the show on the court, that is.


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