Friday, July 2, 2010
By Frankie O
Just in time for the most American of holidays, those of us who follow sports with unbridled passion are getting a heaping dose of the dynamic duo of the American sporting world. Can you venture into any form of media these days without avoiding the LeBron saga? The amount of attention that hes getting is making Brett Favre blush. The funny thing about this is, Im being asked more questions about NBA free agency than I was about the ENTIRE NBA season! And why not? It combines two of our favorite things: speculation and big time bucks.
The beauty of the constant speculation and opinions being offered is that until LeBron decides, nobodys wrong (operative word being YET!). Who wants to debate the misery that is the Cubs when the pipe dream of LeBrons eminent arrival can dance like sugar plums in the heads of the Chicago sports fan, still intoxicated from the Blackhawks run of a lifetime? (Has anyone else been traded in the last 5 minutes?) Ive always joked, when asked which was my favorite of the teams that I rooted for, that it was always the one that was in their off-season because they at least had hope. Same way here. As long as we dont know, and no one does know, its fun to dream of what can be, like when you waste your money, again, on a Mega-Millions ticket. For now, the LeBron saga has no escape hatch. On radio, TV, or the internet, its 24-7 on whos going where and why, and whos not going anywhere, and why. And also for now, unlike with Favre, Im not fed up with it (YET!).
Like I said before, this past NBA season had a decided lack of interest. People are still fans, but I just dont think that they care as much. I think that one of the reasons is because of the restrictive NBA salary cap, the lack of movement of some top players deprives the NBA of a shot in the arm in cities with struggling teams or teams that are close and need that final piece. It seems that when teams are bad that they stay bad for a long time, until the weight of a bad contract can be lifted. Can you say Ben Wallace? While especially in baseball and football there are ways to deal with a bad contract, theres not a lot of wiggle room in the NBA. Before the season starts, we already know who the major players are, so just like with any NBA game, you just have to tune in at the end. So the prospect of a half-dozen marquis players changing teams, with the possibility of some of them pairing up together is very enticing. Then you have my favorite part of this whole drama: the wild-card. While everything I listen to is pretty straight forward, Chicago and Cleveland are his probable destinations, I would like to think, that with so many moving parts in this game of musical chairs, that something strange could happen, something that no one expected. Thats why one of my favorite things to do while discussing this at the bar is to bring up the crazy Russian theory. That would be the owner of the New Jersey Nets, billionaire Mikhail Prokorov.
This dude is worth BIG-TIME money. Im just thinking out loud here, but I dont think he became the 39th richest person in the world, according to Forbes, by finishing in second place a lot. Hes taking on some risk buying into the league, but is he just another Donald Sterling, content to be the joke second team of a major media market? Do you think co-owner, rap mogul Jay-Z, would buy into that? For both of these guys, everything they touch turns into gold, LITERALLY, would they settle for less here? Doesnt every athlete want to be a musician and every musician an athlete? If you wanted to get into music, wouldnt you want to have Jay-Z close by? And despite the 70 loss season of last year, there are some nice pieces in New Jersey in Brook Lopez, (The Big man in the post every winning team needs.) Devin Harris and Courtney Lee. First round draft picks Derrick Favors and Damion James are extremely talented and well thought of. These guys are better than anything the Knicks have, plus playing in Newark or Brooklyn would still mean that youre a player in the largest media market in the world. Also as an aside, I love the hiring of Avery Johnson as head coach. Hes a great motivator and a winner. So does LeBron to New Jersey seem that far fetched? And thats the beauty of playing this game for us fans, until its over, almost anything can make sense. Come into the bar over the weekend and on Saturday Ill tell you why he definitely is staying in Cleveland and on Sunday why hes going to the Knicks. Im just doing my best to keep the hype machine going and the beer taps flowing!