LeBron's TV spectacle a fitting end to outlandish free-agent process
In those anxious, heart-stopping moments before
But ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, as much as we are tingling with anticipation about LeBron's decision, to be announced in a one-hour ESPN special cleverly called "The Decision," you do realize that we are staring into the abyss. Because think of it: What will we do when "The Decision" has been, you know, decided? How will we fill the empty hours, the endless, malaise-driven days when there is no longer video of LeBron arriving at his basketball camp, LeBron posting delectable tidbits on his Web site, LeBron tapping out messages on his new Twitter account? We got nothing. An irritating war, something about an oil spill down South, a crumbling job market. But, man, that stuff is hard to tweet about.
Sure, there are a couple of free-agent mysteries still to be solved, a
All right, let me stop right here. I have not been immune from the protracted free-agent pornfest. I've made a few phone calls and dropped a few hints to sources that I would love to be the one to announce LeBron's destination, get my name on that endlessly spooling crawl across the bottom of the TV. But all the while I've been a little heartsick, half-angry and half-sad at the devolution of this process, what it says about the NBA, the cult of celebrity that has overtaken our country and the whole out-of-whack state of sports journalism.
Look, Wade is a great talent and he won an NBA championship in 2006 practically by himself. (Along with a few whistles that put him at the foul line a few thousand times.) But his diva act has been way, way over the top -- bringing your own documentary crew to a free-agent negotiation sounds like a story in
And while Bosh is a solid player, the attention foisted upon a guy who at this point is about the 100th best interior player in NBA history defied belief. In his seven seasons with the Raptors, Bosh led them to exactly two playoff appearances, both of which resulted in first-round exits. If you were starting a team right now, is there anyone -- outside of Wade and Bosh -- who would pick Bosh over
But the big story, of course, was LeBron, who, drunk on the magnificence of his own LeBron-ness, is utterly clueless of how ridiculous this whole process has been, the monumental amount of self-importance attached to scheduling a one-hour show when you have zero championship rings and, at last glance, were seen folding like a beach chair against the Celtics in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Magic coach
But given the media's mindless acquiescence, why
What this plugs into, needless to say, is our obsession with celebrity, the idea that the sizzle is absolutely more important than the steak. I guarantee you that once Wade and Bosh (and maybe James) actually put on a Miami uniform and begin the difficult process of trying to win a championship, there will be zero interest outside of NBA fans and journalists. The story is not about making the Heat better or about the inner workings of an inside/outside combo; it's about the tweets and the marketing and the seductive dance and the chest-pounding drumbeat of me-me-me, or, in this case, we-we-we.
Despite the amount of publicity being generated for the NBA, I can only imagine how embarrassing these weeks must have been for the old-schoolers in the league office. The commissioner fines Mavericks owner
What I kept longing for was the offseason of 2000, the free-agent summer that truly shaped what happened in the NBA for the next decade. Oh, you don't remember it? That's when
As I write this, there are still about 12 hours until this newest reality show hits the airwaves. Still time for 100 more crawls, 1,000 more educated projections, a million more tweets. I'll probably watch "The Decision," because, like so many others in my business, I am a prisoner of the process. I told my wife to buy the popcorn, and I'll bring the Pepto-Bismol.