Wednesday, July 07, 2010

LeBron Overdose

There has never been any lying or anything around here. I'm not a huge NBA fan. No matter how hard I try, there is always something -- bad basketball, egomaniac players, loud music/sound effects/PA people, deplorable officiating -- to drive me to watch something else.

That said, I took a mild interest in this free agent signing period. Bottom line is that there are a lot of big-time players who were on the open market, and it made sense to think at least a couple of them were going to change teams.

It appears former Toronto Raptor Chris Bosh is the first big domino. Reports have him signing with the Miami Heat to join Dwyane Wade, though Wade himself has yet to sign with the Heat (Baron Davis/Elton Brand all over again?).

(Joe Johnson and Amar'e Stoudemire might argue the "first big domino" point, but they don't have much to stand on.)

Anyway, that leaves Cleveland's LeBron James. Will he sign in Cleveland again, or take his act to New York? Those are about his only options.

Reports have his decision being announced Thursday during a one-hour special on ESPN. This is comical from all sides.

LeBron has basically set himself up as the biggest name in sports. No one is denying his talents, but the guy has won precisely zero games in the NBA Finals, and his team has gagged their way out of the playoffs the last two years, losing series to significant underdogs. Meanwhile, here's James, playing up the free agent drama, passing himself off as an obviously-not-retiring NBA version of Brett Favre.

With all due respect to his ability on the court, has this charade hurt him on the open market? After all, no one likes an ego. Instead of playing himself up as the ultimate team player, LeBron is promoting himself at every available opportunity. While this might be smart marketing, he's a basketball player, not a brand. How will his new -- or old -- teammates handle this me-first behavior?

And shame on ESPN. The network that changed sports could probably claim some semblance of responsibility for LeBron's out-of-control ego. But instead of letting someone else feed it by giving him a one-hour special to announce his free agent choice, ESPN jumps in with both feet.

With this special on Thursday night, you know what the entire day of programming will be.

8 AM: LeBron
9 AM: LeBron
10 AM: LeBron
11 AM: LeBron
12 PM: LeBron
1 PM: LeBron
2 PM: LeBron
3 PM: Outside The Lines -- LeBron
3:30 PM: College Football Live -- How good would LeBron have been at Ohio State?
4 PM: NFL Live -- Could LeBron play in the NFL (Part 287)?
4:30 PM: LeBron is Burning
5 PM: Around The LeBron
5:30 PM: Pardon The LeBron
6 PM: LeBron
7 PM: LeBron
8 PM: LeBron
9 PM: LeBron's Unnamed One-Hour Ego Trip

This probably wouldn't be an issue, but ESPN is likely to ignore numerous legitimate sports stories to spend an entire day speculating about what LeBron James is going to announce in an hour-long show that doesn't really need to be more than about 30 seconds long.

That ESPN would agree to do this shows how little journalistic integrity still exists at the "Worldwide Leader." On the bright side, I'm sure ombudsman Don Ohlmeyer won't get any e-mails about this or anything.

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