Does anyone besides me think the whole LeBron James free agency thing was a little over the top?
I confess to not being on top of the NBA and its policies. I watched some playoff games this year. Actually, I watched more playoff games this year than any year in recent memory. The regular season doesn’t draw much interest from me, not with all the CSI and NCIS shows to watch. Of course as more West Virginia University players enter the NBA, my outlook could change.
Anyway, I knew that Cleveland Cavalier forward LeBron James was going to become a free agent this summer and that there would be no shortage of teams who would love to sign him. The guy is a physical freak. He may lack the grace of a Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan, though he isn’t far behind in that category. What sets James apart from normal NBA players is his strength and speed. The guy is 6-8, 270 with wide receiver speed and I would like to see him on an NFL field against some of those defensive backs, but that is another story.
I catch enough sports radio to know that the sweepstakes for James was limited to about four cities and Cleveland seemed to be the favorite. After all, James grew up in Ohio, Cleveland was his home and they were in a position to offer him more money. But other teams had offers to make as well. Both New York City teams were poised to try and lure James to the Big Apple. Chicago was in the hunt as well.
The one story that became very intriguing in the process was an alleged meeting between Duane Wade of the Miami Heat, Chris Bosh of the Toronto Raptors and James. It was thought that they, all being free agents, were trying to figure out a way to play on the same team.
Talk about loading up!
Well, that would be a loaded team, but if it were that easy to do, more teams would be doing it. Paying the going rate for three players of this caliber makes it virtually impossible for a team to stay under the league’s salary cap and put NBA worthy players on the roster. Wade re-signed with the Heat and Bosh left Toronto for South Beach. That is when many in the media figured the Heat couldn’t afford to bring James into the fold and stay under the cap. Most figured he would return to Cleveland.
The courting period ended last week and I rolled my eyes when I heard ESPN would devote an hour of prime time programming to LeBron’s announcement. That seemed a bit ridiculous to me. I did not then, nor do I know now, who was pushing the idea of devoting an hour to this charade, LeBron or ESPN. Two minutes seemed enough to cover this news.
I had basically forgotten the drama was unfolding live on TV last Thursday when I turned on my TV shortly after 9 p.m. There was James on TV talking. I had missed the beginning of the show. I appreciate his basketball ability, but have never been a fan of his interviews. Nothing I can put my finger on, but I would prefer not to have to watch and listen to him speak.
About 10 minutes into the program James was asked where he was going to play next season. I had been watching for several minutes, well I was trying to listen more than anything as I surfed the net, and thought that question had already been asked, which I mention only to show just how dramatic ESPN was trying to be. Then James said he was going to the Heat.
Fans in Cleveland felt jilted and started burning LeBron James’ jersey and fans in Miami started partying. The rest of the viewing public had to be wondering why they had bothered to tune in. And tune in they did. The showing had an obscene rating. Apparently James, Wade and Bosh made some salary concessions to make the deal happen. James said his decision was made because he felt he could win a championship in Miami before he could in Cleveland.
There is a good chance I will watch the Heat some during the regular season next year, but it will be to follow the progress of rookie DaSean Butler from WVU, assuming Butler can land a spot on the roster.