This is insane. I’m just putting that out there. The fact the LeBron is scheduling a one hour special to announce his free agency decision is just crazy. But it’s the biggest sports story in America, and I cannot help but watch it. I know I’m not alone in this sentiment. So without further ado, a running diary of the most compelling, unnecessary spectacle in free agency history.
(All times are Eastern Time)
8:59- Sportscenter anchors are taking turns asking when LeBron made his decision. My guess is everybody at the worldwide leader is so excited that they get to broadcast this event.
9:01- I can’t believe I’m hearing this. It sounds like Optimus Prime was on hand to give a grandious monologue to open the spectacle. One minute in and this is already weird.
9:04- ESPN’s Chris Broussard notes that Miami is the leading choice for the LeBron. I’d like to hear it from James, not four experts at a roundtable.
9:05- Raise your hand if you’ve heard all of these stats before. Thought so. I would rather watch Jordan Crawford dunk on LeBron for an hour than hear four experts tell us what we already know.
9:07- And it’s LeBron. Dressed casual but classy. He looks genuinely nervous. Remember this moment.
9:11- And here’s what LeBron looks like in various uniforms, according to ESPN. They didn’t bother to include the Clippers. Sorry Clips fans. It’s not too late to jump on the Lakers bandwagon.
9:14- The wait is over. LeBron is signing with Vitamin Water. Terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed.
9:15- There’s a World Cup?!?!?! Is LeBron playing?!?!?!?!
9:16- Who are Chris Broussard’s sources? I’m legitimately curious. Do we have time to parade out all of Broussard’s sources in this HOUR-LONG SPECIAL? Meanwhile LeBron is in “The Chair.” We have to take a break for more Vitamin Water.
9:21- We will now interrupt these commercials to hear the most hyped free agency decision ever. Thanks a lot guys.
9:22- LeBron looks really nervous, forcing laughs, shifting his eyes, raising his eyebrows. He knows the difficulty of this decision. I think we’re learning a lot about him right now.
9:24- LeBron claims he can count the number of people who know his decision, “on one hand.” Is President Obama on the list? Apparently he just informed the team he selected.
9:27- I love the dead silence of the room. You can literally hear the air conditioning.
9:27- And the Heat are the winners. There we have it. It’s over.
9:28- How does LeBron think he will fit in? “It’s not about sharing. It’s all about everybody having their own spotlight.”
9:29- LeBron graciously acknowledged Cleveland. I gotta say, the guy seems genuinely broken up about leaving.
9:30- “What will the fan’s reaction be and will you still live…in Akron?” Hilarious pause. We needed some comedy.
9:32- LeBron discusses the toughness of the decision. He discussed it with his mom, he thought about how he let people down. Everything seems genuine, but do we really know for sure?
9:33- And LeBron is off. Back to the roundtable. Where is Broussard? Is he sobbing in the green room? Is he with his “sources”? Where is he?
9:36- A shot of dozens of Heat fans going crazy, followed but a shot of Cavs fans going crazy (but not in a good way). I personally feel bad for the whole city of Cleveland.
9:37- LeBron thanks the whole city of Cleveland. Something tells me they’re not interested in his gratitude.
9:38- Can we get a shot of Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade pouring champagne on each other? Please? No? Shame.
9:39- LeBron does not expect a welcoming reaction from Cleveland. At least he’s realistic.
9:40- “Championships are championships.” LeBron James sums up his opinion. He wants a title and he does not think he can win one in Cleveland. Maybe it’s that simple. Maybe.
9:41- LeBron claims he was attracted to the Clippers. Ok, that’s definitely not true.
9:42- Michael Wilbon just basically flat out asked why LeBron didn’t join Chicago. I’ve got a feeling he is not taking this well…
9:45- LeBron tells us that a team is not just three guys, but also the owners, GMs, coaches, players, janitors, ticket salesmen, people selling concessions. I only made one of those things up.
9:47- Apparently LeBron is taking less money to sign with Miami. I suppose there is something to be said for that. But why isn’t anybody mentioning the low taxes in Florida? Anybody?
9:50- A video of LeBron’s jersey burning in Cleveland. Wow. James knows the impact this is having. Does he care? I can’t say. But he knows.
9:52- Lebron is off camera again, but reportedly has another announcement to make. Hopefully it involves laughing at the dejected Clippers ownership.
9:53- Computer simulation predicts the Heat will go 66-16 next year. How did they fill out a roster for the simulations? I think that if I’m gonna watch an hour long, unnecessary special, I at least deserve these kind of answers.
9:55- Apparently the Knicks are disappointed, but they respect LeBron’s decision. And what if they hadn’t respected it? Would Stoudemire be outside the building with a baseball bat? By the way, where’s Mikhail Prokhorov? I want Mikhail Prokhorov!
9:58- We’ve repeatedly heard LeBron and Wade discussed as two of the three best in the NBA, which reminds me, do you think Kobe is chuckling maniacally at the aspect of playing the LeBronWadeBoshes? I think he’s jacked. This will be fun.
That wraps up the LeBron special. A few thoughts:
1) It was completely unnecessary. I don’t know why we needed an hour long special to do what a special edition of Sportscenter could have done. It was absurd. But there’s a clear reason in my mind as to why LeBron did it. After all of the hoopla surrounding Wade and Bosh, he had to have the last laugh. The fact that he announced the special just as Wade and Bosh announced their plans to join the Heat seems too fabricated to be a coincidence.
What does this mean? It means that LeBron has no intention of taking a backseat to anybody. He wants to be the star of the Heat off the floor, even if he’s talking about how he’ll be selfless on it. I now see that LeBron genuinely wants a title, because he would have been more worshiped had he stayed with the Cavs. But he wants it on his terms. The hour long spectacle was an announcement of that desire.
2) I despised the special as a whole, particularly the roundtable which rehashed every LeBron storyline that we’ve been bombarded with for weeks. That said, I enjoyed LeBron’s on camera moments, particularly his announcement interview. I have no idea how he feels inside, but on the outside, he was classy, smooth and genuinely seemed to feel bad about leaving Cleveland. To a Cleveland fan, that sincerity does not mean anything, and I certainly understand that. But I was hoping that if LeBron was leaving the city that loved him unconditionally, he would do it with some poise and dignity. And I think that he did.
3) I think LeBron will regret this to a degree. He talks about how Cleveland is where is heart is and all of that. But honestly, I don’t think Cleveland will accept that, and I don’t blame them. They feel betrayed, and I don’t blame them. This is a rift that will not heal quickly, and one that may not heal at all. He may meet boos when he returns to Cleveland. I hope that, instead of calling the fans ungrateful for the seven years he served them, LeBron will take a minute to consider how much his departure devastated the fan base. I’m not saying LeBron leaving Cleveland was the wrong decision, but it has severe consequences, and those are his to bear. He should not look at the anger in Ohio and not understand why they are angry. That would just be being oblivious.
4) This changes the entire landscape of the NBA. Suddenly, despite the fact that they have not played a game together, Wade, Bosh and James have stolen the thunder from the two time defending champion Lakers. But Kobe Bryant no doubt thinks his boys are the best, and they probably still are. The fact is, LeBron, Wade and Bosh cannot win a title by themselves. They will probably dominate the regular season, resulting in dozens of, “The Big Three is Too Good to Fail,” stories. But unless the Heat can get some savvy veterans to fill the role player spots, I do not think they will win the title. I think the Lakers have plenty left in them to win again, and the hype surrounding the Heat will merely fuel them.
However, the Eastern Conference is all shaken up. The Cavs are done; there’s no way they rebound from this to make the playoffs. It would be a miracle. Toronto is even worse off; now they’ve lost their best player, their identity and any shot at a playoff berth. With Cleveland out of the way, I think the Bulls, padded by Carlos Boozer can snatch the Central Division title. They seem ready.
Meanwhile, the New York Knicks are no doubt humiliated, having struck out on the three top free agents after gutting their roster for cap space. That said, there is hope. With a strong trading piece (David Lee) they have a legitimate chance to sign and trade for some complementary pieces (say, an actual point guard). Add in some wily veterans, and the Knicks will suddenly be quite improved. Not enough to make any noise in the Eastern Conference, but maybe enough to make the playoffs. It’s not much, but it’s progress.
Finally, the Southeast Division features the most compelling rivalry in the conference. Wade, Bosh and James against Howard and the established Magic? I do not know who will come out on top. I think the the Heat will be able to win out in the regular season, but without somebody to handle Howard (and Bosh is certainly not that guy), I’m not quite ready to pick them to beat them out for a Finals berth. I need to see Wade, LeBron and Bosh play together before I’m ready to pick them to win the East.
Nevertheless, the league is changed. With their new trio, the Heat are now the most intriguing franchise in the NBA, and nobody is really close. I have no idea what will happen to them. They could win several rings, they could win none and be utter disappointments. The possibilities are all over the map. But in one week, the NBA has been changed. And for LeBron, now that he’s with the best two teammates he’s ever had, the stakes have been raised. Time for him to earn the name King James. Fasten your seatbelts.
Tags: Chris Bosh, Cleveland Cavaliers, ESPN, free agency, Lebron James, Miami Heat, New York Knicks