2nd Update: Man, it's ugly. The NY Times, AP, Sports Illustrated and Washington Post --no doubt among others--join the negative reaction, turning LeBron from hero to villain instantly, and LeBron's ex-boss, dissed by hearing the decision on TV, unloaded on his erstwhile meal ticket, calling him a narcissistic traitor, and accused him of quitting during the playoffs. Here's a sample, from SI: "But James does not have the heart of a champion. He does not have the competitive fire of Jordan, the bull-headed determination of Kobe Bryant, the quiet self-confidence of Tim Duncan, the willful defiance of Isiah or the winning-is-everything hunger of Magic Johnson. He is an extremely gifted player who wants the easy way out."
Update: It's Miami.
So tonight LeBron James is going to announce where he plays basketball next season. On a prime-time television special. About him. For an hour.
I may not be as exercised about it as this guy, but it is pretty weird. Nor have I paid that much attention to LeBron, except to note that he's a hell of a player, and his behavior in playoff games has been odd, to say the least.
But the stakes are beyond NBA basketball. James has apparently announced his ambition to become a billionaire, and if he chooses to leave his current city of employment (Cleveland), that city's economy could take a major hit.
So what will he do? Stay in Cleveland, where his team disgraced itself by quitting in their final playoff games, but where he will rake in the most salary, and be the undisputed King? Or go to Miami, where another star player (Chris Bosh) has joined the superstar Dwayne Wade, and figure to be clearly be the favorite to finally reach the NBA finals and get a ring--but where LeBron will no longer be the sole focus? Or will he go to New York, and become King of the supposed media capital of the world?
If he's serious about winning a championship and Miami can still afford him, he goes there. He is apparently less likely now to go to New York, and while there's a logic to him staying in Cleveland, I'd be surprised by that.
To suggest how really weird this is, apparently none of the teams he is considering knows whether he will choose them. He's not just announcing his choice to the world. He's announcing it to the team he will deign to play for.
For the past several decades, sports stars have made lots of money, comparable to Hollywood stars. What they do is singular, especially in the playoffs. So standards of what is obscene, especially when so many are unemployed and otherwise struggling, do change. But this is getting well into the territory of the disgusting.
So as an NBA fan, I'll want to know what he decides. But I can wait to check it online when I normally make the sports rounds. I hope whatever he decides that LeBron does make it into the finals next year, and that the Lakers kick his ass. Is that just because I'm a Lakers fan? Maybe. But I'll say this: even if he decides on the Chicago Bulls (a longshot now--it looks like either Miami or Cleveland), LeBron James is no Michael Jordan.
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