Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Most Ridiculous Thing You'll See Today

This week, we were all (like it or not) witness to one of the most bizarre (insane also works here) sports spectacles in this country's history. I'm not talking about the over-the-top nature of a Super Bowl, or even the bombastic lead up to a Wrestlemania.

I'm talking about the signing of a free agent.

Something that happens dozens of times a year in every sport was turned into one of the strangest sports scenes I've ever seen Thursday night during an hour-long "special" broadcast live on ESPN.

In a months-long courting period that included campaigns like this one in major cities around the country, NBA mega-star Lebron James waffled between taking his talents to the Knicks, the Bulls, and the Heat and staying in his hometown of Cleveland to continue playing for the Cavs.

Instead of a press conference, King James decided on an absurd, faux talk show setting at a Boys and Girls club in Greenwich, CT, of all places. The day before his announcement--his announcement that he's teased for months now--he was reportedly seen house hunting in Greenwich (which would lead one to believe that he was leaning towards the Knicks at that point), and he is supposedly attending a wedding in Miami on Saturday night.

News reports and sports "experts" speculated endlessly about a decision that, I think anyway, was made months ago, and was incredibly transparent. Still, ESPN was able to squeeze every last dollar out of the non-event, and hype their own one-hour show--which they dubbed "The Decision"--non-stop all week long.

All that build up, and Lebron had to travel to Greenwich to announce that he was going to Miami to play for the Heat.

Had he scheduled Miami, then ESPN could not have made a buck off the announcement. Airing from a "neutral" location, basketball's biggest star turned free agency into a sideshow, a useless guessing game, and, frankly, the most pretentious thing I've ever seen an athlete do.

And that's saying something.

And just when I thought it couldn't get any more bizarre, I saw this on the Cleveland Cavs' home page.

A letter--in some weird comic book-y font, no less--written by the Cavs' owner, blasting the player that made him an absolute fortune over the past seven years.

Now, sure, i kinda was hoping that James decided to stay with his hometown team, but how can you blame the guy for wanting to go to a team with a better chance at winning a title?

Anyway, as ridiculous as all this's still not the most ridiculous thing you'll see today.

This is.

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Happy Saturday, everyone!


Scott said...

I don't think it's too ridiculous; if, say, Michael Jordan or Larry Bird had become free agents in their prime, there would have been the same kind of fuss.

From what I understand, the whole reason for announcing it at the Boys & Girls Club is that a very large chunk of the money raised from promoting the decision being aired there is going to go to either Boys & Girls Club in general, or that specific one. I think that's fine, honestly. He could have milked it more and done it somewhere else to make more money for himself, so good on him for giving some to charity. And while we're on the money topic, he's also taking a salary cut to go play with friends and win; he could have had a higher salary by staying in Cleveland OR by going to New York...

The font is MS Comic Sans, known as the sign of bad taste worldwide.

AJG said...

I'm no basketball expert (seriously, for a "sports guy" I know baseball and that's about the extent of it!), but I'd think Jordan went through free agency with the Bulls.

Though, in his case, there was certainly no reason to leave.

Still, I absolutely agree that the "right" move for James was to leave Cleveland. A player willing to take less because he wants to win is rare today (read: almost non-existant), and I give him credit for that.

I just can't get over the way in which he did it, though, with the Vitamin Water commercials airing with each break, and the vending machine right behind him on the stage.

I'm all for the money going to charity, certainly, but I think ESPN and James made out incredibly well.

I read somewhere that ESPN got a 7 rating, which is unheard of for cable TV.

I just couldn't help thinking, "wait, this guy plays a game for a living, and we're giving him this much attention?"

But I guess that's our culture, and it won't change any time soon.