Everything about this 1-hour “decision” special isn’t terrible. I won’t go so far as to say that. But I will say that in its current design, it is of poor taste. There are a couple of reasons for this.
- ESPN should not have ceded its advertising spots to LeBron James.
- James, pending his exodus, is pissing on the citizenry of his hometown.
It really is outrageous that ESPN has surrendered some journalistic integrity in order to secure exclusivity with James. Only because surrendering their advertising spots, this can be seen as a sort of pay-to-play situation. And that’s really what it is. It’s the equivalent of Paul Pierce coming to the Boston Globe, telling us he wants to blog, then asking for all the advertising money. That’s no bueno.
I don’t care what he does with the money, he still has control of the money. And if he has control of the money, one can logically conclude that he has control of the business. In less than three months, he went from being a puppet to being the puppeteer. Call that an extreme assessment, but as the saying goes, if there’s a perception of impropriety, there probably is.
Besides that, it’s nice that James is donating the money from those spots to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. A most worthy cause that’s close to me as well. He gets bonus points for not being a douche bag about it.
I think I’ve said this a number of times publicly (mostly on Twitter), but I’ll say it again: I really hope James stays in Cleveland. It’s his home. He’ll be rich there ($30 million more if he stays). If he has learned anything through this process, it’s that comparable talent (i.e. Shaquille O’Neal) will go to Cleveland to be with him. He doesn’t have to leave, unless he wants to.
This is where I put on my best Adam Sandler voice in “Happy Gilmore” while yelling at the golf ball. “This is your home. Your hoooome! Are you too good for you hoooome!”
I’m looking forward to ESPN not being dominated by NBA free agency after today. Not only has the channel morphed into ESPLeBron, but it has seriously lacked on its coverage of other worthwhile events. Namely, the Tour de France. Where’s that news?
Lastly, some parting thoughts here before the “special”:
If LeBron leaves Cleveland, the city will be crushed. But not to the effect that ESPN has made it out for us to believe. It’s more like that girlfriend/boyfriend you had that said they really needed to think about where you two stood, then took too long to get back to you, and then semi-surprised by saying they were through. You had the feeling. You had an inkling of what was to come. You were already bracing yourself. But you didn’t want it to happen. Afterward, you felt relieved because you knew what to do next. And that’s simply move on.
If LeBron goes to Miami, as many experts are expecting, they’re still not the No. 1 team in the NBA. That title belongs to the Los Angeles Lakers. If he goes to Chicago, that team will not be No. 1 either. Nor will New York or Cleveland. (More like, definitely not New York.) Wherever he goes, there will need to be a mechanism in place to help the players mesh to each others styles. It will be a chemistry issue that may be resolved quickly or take some time. But right now, I’m concerned that LBJ is not as coachable as some teams hope he is. Or need him to be. After all, he didn’t do so well listening to Mike Brown. How can he do well listening to Eric Spoelstra?