Friday, July 9, 2010

Thoughts on the LeBron James Sideshow

The NBA season ended a month ago, but you wouldn't have known that from all of the media frenzy surrounding LeBron James in the last few weeks. James is widely considered the NBA's best player, apparently by those who don't count winning in the playoffs as a necessary quality for a great player. In seven seasons with his hometown Cavaliers, James has never won a championship. Over the past couple of weeks, James has been playing entire cities (Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Miami, among others) against one another, as he dangled before them the possibility of his regal presence. Last night, sports hype reached an all-time high (low?) when, in in a live telecast on ESPN, James announced that he was moving to Miami, where he will team-up with a couple of other superstars worthy of his company.

When Michael Jordan retired for the second time in 1999, I too left the NBA, feeling that there was not much left to see in a sport whose talisman had come and gone, and which was increasingly dominated by spoiled prima donnas. With all due respect to Kobe Bryant - clearly the greatest player of the post-Jordan era - I have not missed it. I've watched bits and pieces of games, but I have not watched an entire game since "His Airness" won his final championship against Utah. Like him, I feel like I went out on top. And the LeBron James soap opera confirms it.

In one, albeit perverse, respect, the James sideshow has piqued my interest. As with all teams that try to literally purchase a championship through the free-agent market - for soccer fans, think Manchester City or Chelsea in the EPL - I now have a strong interest in seeing Miami fail. Call it schadenfreude if you will. And, by the way, I would likely have felt the same about the Bulls, had the King bestowed himself on them.

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