7 07 2010

What, you didn’t expect me to call it LeBronGate, did you? The LeBronanator will make his hour-long special on ESPN tomorrow night, and I’m happy for him. It’s what he needs and I suppose it was an inevitable part of his free agency. You can read here from a true LeBron expert why the hour-long ESPN special shouldn’t be a surprise.

You think that if Alex Rodriguez had been a 24-year-old free agent this past January instead of in January 2001 that he wouldn’t have used a LeBron-like stage to announce his free agent choice? The guy practically disrupted a World Series on his own a couple years ago just to announce, through his agent, that he was re-signing with the Yankees for $100 billion.

You think that if Shaquille O’Neal had been a 24-year-old free agent now rather than in 1996 that he wouldn’t of set up a press conference from the HOLLYWOOD sign in L.A. to announce his impending contract with the Lakers? Please. He would’ve owned the spotlight now, just like a young Alex Rodriguez, just like a young LBJ. It’s LeBron’s right to announce his intentions however damn well he pleases. Only he better understand that the way he’s doing it will put even more pressure on him to win a ring soon — very, very soon.

I won’t watch the ESPN special tomorrow night and it’s not just because I don’t have cable at my apartment. (Can you believe that?) I just have no interest in watching an hour-long program for a 5-second answer. I can track that on Twitter anyway.

What really grinds my gears, as the great Peter Griffin would exclaim, is that LeBron and his camp want people to think there’s a genuinely good-natured element to the conference in the form of a charitable donation. All advertising money made off tomorrow’s ESPN special is supposedly going to support the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, at LeBron’s request. If the guy is feeling so philanthropic, then maybe he should make a private donation with his money, not others.

Another layer to this perplexing free agent process is the reporting performed by ESPN’s Chris Broussard last night. He stated that independent sources told him ESPN would possibly air LeBron’s decision at 9 tomorrow night. First, as the Dan Patrick Show astutely pointed out on today’s show, why can’t Mr. Broussard walk up the stairs of his own company and ask his bosses what the hell is going on? Second, why is ESPN leaving its reporter out to dry? By making Broussard claim independent sources are informing him of a possible upcoming program on the network for which he works, ESPN is eroding Broussard’s credibility by making him look as if he’s not informed of his own employer. And it comes at a time when many are questioning the motives of reporters in jackhammering each other for free agent scoops.

Back to LeBron, I feel that if he’s going this far in announcing a decision, he better go all the way. Have a hat from each team he’s considering on a table. Throw up a highlight video of his first seven years in the League playing on loop on a flatscreen behind him. Get his family and friends beside him and gather a group of fans from each team he’s considering to sit on a makeshift bleacher section. Finally, just to display his social media savvy, have the camera focused on LeBronpalooza while he Tweets his decision into his cell phone, where his 255,000-plus followers can read his final answer. It better be worth it.

(I’m rooting for the Knicks or Nets since I live in NYC)




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