What is LeBron thinking?
As long as the Celtics are in the thick of things, I have some mild interest in what goes on in the NBA. After that, not so much.
But, as a sports fan in general, I have been relentlessly subjected to the circus that is the LeBron James free agency. And, frankly, I feel like the guy who has to deal with what comes out the south end of the elephants. On one level, I blame this on the celebrity sports media, also known as today’s sports journalism. Listening to ESPN Radio over the past month has been almost nauseating. They push this story, because it produces ratings, I guess. LeBron has been most willing to take part in this devil’s handshake from the start. I don’t know if he enjoys all the attention or is just happy to benefit from it. Tonight comes the full fruit of this soul-bargaining deal (though which side is the devil and which is trading its soul is a little unclear). Tonight ESPN features a full-hour, prime-time special devoted to James’ announcement about what jersey he’ll be wearing the next five seasons.
If LeBron James announces he’s staying in Cleveland, the whole thing will have just been great theater. But the speculation is that he will be signing with the Miami Heat. If that’s what James goes on TV to announce tonight, it will be one of the most classless acts performed by a sports star since Michael Vick electrocuted his last dog. Cleveland fans will rightly ask why he had to do this on national television? Is it for the money? If so, how much more does he need from this deal? If not the money, does LeBron truly need more publicity, more attention? This would make him one of the world’s truly great narcissists, especially after all the attention he already gets.
James is entitled to choose to play wherever he wants and for whatever amount of money he can get. I think the people of Cleveland would understand this, even under the cloud of their great disappointment. But if he rubs their noses in this decision on national television for no other reason than a few dollars and an hour’s worth of prime time attention, he will rightly be reviled by all of Ohio, and certainly by me.
This is why I would be surprised if tonight’s announcement is anything but James telling the world he is staying home. Anything else would be so utterly self-centered he’d even be risking lucrative endorsement deals. I mean, who would want to be associated with such a human being?