Random thoughts abound during LeBron’s ‘decision’

One of the most anticipated hours of sporting television has come and gone, and when it was all said and done, NBA megastar LeBron James switched allegiances from the Cleveland Cavaliers to the Miami Heat (or the Miami Heats, if one were to believe the trending topics on Twitter shortly after last Thursday’s announcement).
James’ one-hour special, dubbed “The Decision,” could end up being a defining moment for sports television.
It was just so . . . weird.
The special was an unprecedented event in professional sports circles, which is almost a little surprising considering this particular circle counts NFL receiver Terrell Owens (who once performed a workout routine at a media conference on a driveway outside of his home) as a member.
But I digress, as I am wont to do.
To hold a television special was a curious choice, especially since James counted five or six viable suitors in large media markets and was certain to disappoint all but one of them.
If Cleveland was dropped into the ranks of the heartbroken, it almost would be worth counting them twice, considering that James is a hometown lad and had put in seven years for Cavs’ fans.
But not to worry!
When the special was announced, several pundits figured it was a sign that James was staying in Ohio. After all, he wouldn’t turn his back on his hometown on national television, would he?
While the content was, of course, going to be edge-of-your-seat enthralling (at least the 15 seconds James would take to break the news), many were curious to see how ESPN was going to fill an hour.
Would James save the news for the end after 58 minutes of build-up and hypotheses (which were sorely needed)? Or would he get it over with right away and then let the analysis begin?
Word broke Thursday that the announcement would come within the first 15 minutes, and that seemed like it would be just about right. It would allow for a little suspense to build but, hopefully, retain the casual fan tuning in to watch a pop culture phenomenon.
Chances are sports fans will remember exactly where they were when they saw LeBron James announce he would be taking his services to South Beach. I, for one, was at home on my couch—and I shall never forget.
And on that couch, I was multi-tasking, taking a bit of a running diary as the special presentation progressed. Here is the aftermath, although some/all of the punchlines may have been written after the fact (alas, if only I were instantly witty):
8 p.m.—ESPN shows footage of James entering the Boys and Girls Club in Greenwich, Conn. about 15 minutes earlier. He’s wearing a red-and-white striped shirt to the press conference.
Count out the Knicks (blue and orange) and the Cavs (more of a burgundy). L.A. Clippers’ fanatics, rejoice, you’ve become the odds-on favourite!
8:03 p.m.—ESPN’s Chris Broussard and Jon Barry both call Miami. But only because everyone else is.
Way to piggyback off someone else’s story, guys.
8:04 p.m.—Mike Wilbon says that it’ll be hard for James to leave Cleveland after all they’ve been through. Like all those handful of playoff rounds together.
8:05 p.m.—Host Stuart Scott announces the fallout from “The Decision” will make front and back page headlines. Seriously, back page headlines.
He wasn’t wrong (e.g., this column) but it was like James saying, ‘Yes, I’ll sit down with both the Heat and the Clippers.’ Only one matters.
8:06 p.m.—Announcer mentions that Cleveland hasn’t won a pro sports title since 1964. Wow.
That’s not even joke-worthy. That’s double my lifetime and I’m, like, old.
8:08 p.m.—Barry thinks that James joining the Chicago Bulls “would make the most sense.” Broussard says Miami would win the East (“don’t care what nine guys they put around them”), but agrees that Chicago would be a better fit.
I disagree. If James signs in Chicago, the only guys they could afford to sign to go with him are Kyle Korver.
8:11 p.m.—ESPN shows James photo-shopped into the home jerseys of each of his suitors. I kind of wish that they’d ended with dreadlocks and a Hawaiian shirt, Ricky Williams style.
Or a Kontinental Hockey League jersey. Or a Birmingham Barons jersey. They’re options, too!
8:24 p.m.—Talking to hand-picked interviewer Jim Gray, James admits that he decided “this morning.”
What if he’d overslept and was dopey upon awaking? Could the Clippers really have been an option after all?
8:27 p.m.—“You still a nail-biter?” asks Jim Gray, leading into asking James for his team of choice.
“Do you believe in miracles?” it is not.
8:27 p.m.—James picks the Heat.
I don’t get chills like I normally do during significant sporting moments. Bad karma.
8:39 p.m.—“Hopefully the [Cleveland] fans will be respectful . . . but I don’t expect that to be.” Smart cookie.
8:50 p.m.—James is talking in the third person . . . “I wanted to do what was best for LeBron James and what would make LeBron James happy.”
I almost expect James to be sliding into a Dave Chappelle “I’m Rick James” sketch.
8:56 p.m.—Gray asks James which phone call or text message since the announcement has made him respond most strongly (because James apparently now has enough money for technology to read text messages to his brain).
9:03 p.m.—One lucky fan asks how James might do in a game of “Horse” with U.S. President Barack Obama.
That was the best (i.e., most TV-friendly) question that producers could find. Seriously.
Thanks for that gem, Mike L. from Roseville, Calif.
9:06 p.m.—James stresses the commitment to the Boys and Girls Club. “We might have another LeBron,” he gushes.
As the special winds down, I think North America is ready to operate a collective boycott of the Boys and Girls Club.

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