Thursday, July 08, 2010


That's the new nickname for LeBron James btw -- LBJ. It's better than The King or whatever, and frankly anything we can do to take that moniker away from the clown president of the 1960s is a good thing in my book.

So the LBJ business in an absolutely full swing here, as anyone could have predicted once LeBron announced that he would reveal his future plans during the first ten minutes of a nationally-televised program on ESPN at 9pm ET on Thursday night. It's an unprecedented step, and one that will certainly be a fitting end to the spectacle that has been the 2010 LBJ Free Agency Tour. With five teams officially in the running according to the James camp -- the Bulls, Heat, Cavaliers, Nets and Knicks -- and with the money essentially pre-determined in each case given the salary restrictions in the NBA, tonight's decision is expected to be mostly about where LeBron feels he can best win a title. Or make that titles. The thing is, with so much uncertainty still going in the NBA right now, it can be very difficult to really figure out exactly where that means he is going.

One thing is for sure in my mind, and as far as I can tell, I may be the only person on the earth who sees this so clearly: LeBron is straight up making clowns out of the media right now, and he (or his camp) is doing it on purpose. Right now anybody can click over to and see the top story that LeBron is leaning towards the Heat. There is little doubt that the whispers all through Thursday will be about LeBron going to Miami, heading right up to shortly after 9pm when all will be made known. But I listen to a good three hours of sports radio every day given my commuting situation, both local New York shows as well as national shows like ESPN Radio, Mad Dog Radio and Fox Sports Radio, and I can tell you that without a doubt, three days ago, the Bulls were said to be the clear frontrunners in this thing. Word was leaked that LeBron was very impressed with the Bulls' moves this offseason, including the hiring of the Celtics' longtime defensive coordinator as the new head coach, and now they have added Carlos Boozer as well this morning, and LeBron was said to absolutely believe that his best chance to win many titles lied in Chicago.

Then move ahead to Tuesday, just two days ago. After all indications from LBJ's camp on Monday pointed to the Bulls, suddenly we woke up on Tuesday morning, LeBron announced that he would have this 9pm media special on Thursday to announce his decision, and LeBron's camp leaked whispers that he would be broadcasting from within his home town of Akron, Ohio. Suddenly, it was obvious to everyone -- including mostly all of those same people reporting that Chicago was the frontrunner just a day earlier -- that LeBron was staying with the Cavs.

Then there was Wednesday, again just one more day later. Early in the day it was leaked by a couple sources close to LBJ that he was leaning towards the Knicks. Then LBJ's people let it be known that espn had booked the Boys and Girls club in Greenwich, Connecticut from 7-10pm ET for the press conference. So suddenly not only was LeBron not broadcasting from his home town or from Ohio at all, but he was coming to the New York City suburbs to make his announcement. Anyone who listens to sports radio like I do knows that on Wednesday, LBJ's camp made it such that all the whispers, all the gossip, all the signs were that he would be coming to New York.

So to review, on Monday LBJ's camp clearly indicated a lean towards Chicago. Then on Tuesday his people manipulated the facts around his media announced to clearly suggest a lean towards Cleveland. Then on Wednesday, additional facts were made known along with a few reports in well-placed New York sports media sources from sources close to LBJ that James was leaning towards the Knicks.

And now I'm supposed to believe that LBJ is leaning towards Miami on Thursday? Are you kidding me?

All these idiot reporters are showing is what mega effing pawns they are for the people who control them. You ever hear that old saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me?" Well here it is in action. LeBron's people clearly have spent this entire week making a new city the alleged favorite for LBJ to go to every different day of the week. They're laughing about it, right now they are, I guarantee you. They're probably sitting around a table in a plane somewhere drinking a bottle of Dom Perrignon, reading the homepage and watching SportsCenter over and over and over again. This week has been media manipulation at its silliest, and somehow, some way, the morons in big positions in sports media in this country don't see how plainly they are being played.

LeBron is most definitely not "leaning towards" Miami right now, not any more than he was "leaning towards" Chicago on Monday, Cleveland on Tuesday, or New York on Wednesday. Miami is a major attraction for LBJ just as those other three cities are, and he will be making his final decision probably up until late this afternoon or early evening if I had to guess. Here's a quick rundown of each city's chances given what I think I know:

1. The Nets. There is absolutely no reason for LBJ to ever go to the Nets. They are playing in Newark or some shit for the next few seasons, they have no real strong NBA history or tradition, and they'll always be the also-ran to the Knicks in New York, and about 7th or 8th down the list in popularity of sports teams in NY metro. And worst of all, while teams like the Heat, Bulls and Knicks have all signed some big free agents over the past few weeks to help attract LBJ to play there, the Nets have somehow managed to just sit around and sign nobody, while most of the big prizes have by now been claimed by other teams. In fact, just about the only possible reason to think LBJ might ever consider going to the Nets is that his people who have so blatantly clowned on the media this week have deliberately avoided any mention whatsoever of the Nets. By this point the Nets are such a clear fifth wheel in this race, that the only chance they could realistically have is if LeBron was always going to go there and just wanted to shock everybody by deliberately ignoring them all week just to throw off the scent.
Odds of LBJ to the Nets: 2%.

2. The New York Knicks. The big pro's for going to the Knicks in LeBron's eyes are first and foremost that he has always loved New York City, has secretly always dreamed of playing in Madison Square Garden on the country's biggest stage, and has even sort of told people over the years that he would love to play here someday. In addition, the team has been so bad for so long at this point, that even a modicum of success there would make LeBron the most loved athlete in a town that is getting close to losing its longtime sports icons in Derek Jeter and Mariano Rivera. If LBJ can win even a couple of titles in New York, he will basically be an all-time basketball legend for centuries, hands down. No other city can necessarily make that kind of a promise. Also, LeBron wanted the Cavs to bring Amare Stoudamire to Cleveland to play with him two seasons ago, but the Cavs would not despite LBJ's repeated expressions of his desire to play with the guy from Phoenix with the surgically-repaired knee. And make no mistake, the Knicks' just having signed Stoudamire this week to a 5-year, $100 million contract is at least as much to get LBJ as it is to get Stoudamire, and I am sure LeBron has not lost his desire to play with one of the best big men in the game today. The big con's for LeBron to come to New York, however, are that the team is pretty damn bad right now, and they have been run ineptly for a long, long time. The owner has shown a penchant for making poor decisions with respect to team management, and has shown absolutely no competence whatsoever for bringing in successful teams to run his franchise over time. Current Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni certainly has not wowed anybody during his two years at the helm either, leading two sets of crappy players to give up around the midway point two years in a row for the biggest embarrassment in all of the NBA.
Odds of LBJ to the Knicks: 28%.

3. The Chicago Bulls. The pro's of LBJ going to the Bulls are simple and obvious: Derrick Rose, more or less the best young point guard in the game today, plus now Carlos Boozer has been signed up for the next several years as well, meaning LeBron is guaranteed of a solid core of great NBA players for the foreseeable future. Throw in some of the young stars on this team as well and you have got arguably the best all-around team to give LBJ a shot to win a title right away. Some argue that the aura of Michael Jordan in Chicago might also be an attractive challenge for LeBron to try to return the title to the Windy City, but I think overall that has got to be seen as a negative by James if not by his camp in general. I mean, Chicago is pretty much the only city in America where Bron could go and average 33 points per game over the next two years and win back to back titles, and still not be considered the best player on that team in this generation. From one egomaniac to another, I say the recent success of Michael Jordan in Chicago is the big thing weighing against LBJ's decision to start the next phase of his NBA career there.
Odds of LBJ to the Bulls: 18%.

4. The Miami Heat. The Heat of course were the subject of that rumored, then struck down, and then reconfirmed story from last weekend on that reportedly had LBJ meeting in Miami with Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh to discuss the three players uniting for a run at a few titles down in the land of South Beach. Obviously, the huge plus in LBJ's eyes of this move is getting to play with two bona fide NBA stars in Wade and Bosh, both of whom have indicated this week that they will sign with the Heat and would even consider signing for slightly less than the maximum to get all three players down there. Miami is ultimately the only team in America that has the financial wherewithal to sign three players like Bosh, Wade and LBJ -- thanks mostly to getting the Larry Bird exemption for Wade's contract -- and that along with the very real possibility of Pat Riley coming out of the owners' box and back down to the sidelines to coach this team are without a doubt a huge attraction for James and his camp. There are not many negatives to making this decision, as Miami is without a doubt one of the handful of funnest cities in the country, and a great place for LeBron to see and be seen. The two possible con's that come to mind are first, that the Heat will literally have only four players signed to contracts once they bring in Bosh, Wade, LeBron and get rid of Beasley (point guard Michael Chalmers is under contract for this year already). The rest of that team would have to be stocked with basically a bunch of NBA minimum guys in order to afford paying what these three stars would require, and that maybe a source of frustration at some point against other deep teams in the playoffs. And the other negative -- although not one that I bet LeBron would be willing to put much stock in sitting here right now up in his plane dousing himself in champagne -- could be that it may be more difficult than it seems for LeBron, Wade and Bosh to play together. It's not just about sharing the ball, although that could be a problem since Wade and LeBron in particular are both used to getting so many touches in every single game they play -- but also sharing the spotlight. Right now, the Miami Heat are Dwayne Wade's team, and they have been for some time. There's no way of knowing if LBJ would ever be able to break through that tradition and take over leadership of the team in the way that Wade has. LeBron may not deal with being second fiddle to Wade all the time, and Wade might not deal well with it if LeBron comes in and takes over as the clear leader of the team either. Ask yourself this: what's going to be going through LeBron's mind in the middle of next season if Wade is averaging 31 points per game while LeBron is averaging just 22? It's definitely something for LBJ to think about at least in making the most important decision of his career so far.
Odds of LBJ to the Heat: 31%.

5. The Cleveland Cavaliers. The argument to stay with the Cavs is as easy as any of those on this list: It's his hometown, and they are his team. They've always been his team, and LeBron is still at heart strongly an Ohio boy. Oh, and his team had the best record in thre regular season this past year in the East -- better than the Bulls, better than the Celtics, and better than the Magic. Better than everybody. With LeBron, the Cavaliers are already proven to be the best team in the East, it's his hometown team, and on top of all that they can pay him the most money under the Larry Bird salary cap exemption. So why leave? It is unclear if LeBron believes he can win under that ownership and management team anymore. LeBron clearly does not want to go through any more seasons like his last two in Cleveland, and I think it was clear to anybody who watched the 2010 NBA playoffs that by the end of the conference semis, LeBron had given up. You could see it on his face, and you could see it in the way he played in those last two games. LeBron has serious doubts about the Cavs as a franchise right now. On top of that, LBJ would not even return Tom Izzo's calls, even one time, when Izzo was considering taking over the team's "reins" (you assidiot) a few weeks ago, which in my eyes definitely signified a lean away from returning to his hometown team. Ultimately I think the Cavaliers are the easiest team to explain if LBJ decided to go that route, and it might also be the slight sentimental favorite among NBA fans who are not fans of the particular teams or cities involved.
Odds of LBJ to the Cavs: 21%.

We will know the answer tonight around 9:05pm ET on ESPN.

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Blogger lightning36 said...

Your percentage for the Nets was too high! I can see no logical reason why he would sign with that team.

I think your analysis with the Bulls is spot on. If LeBron is all about ego, brand, and legacy, the shadow of Michael is a big negative. If he really wants to win now, though, this is the best place.

If he goes to Miami they will have an awesome 1-2-3 punch. But how would they mesh?

Although the future NBA money/labor situation is in doubt, I still believe that he will sign with Cleveland for three years and then bolt if things don't work out. But, if he stays in Cleveland, he will have a tough time getting to the finals since the competition will be tougher.

I wish I had these kind of decisions to make.

10:08 PM  

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