Thursday, July 08, 2010

Goodbye LeBron?

Apparently, LeBron James is going to use his one hour prime-time special tonight to announce he is joining Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami (which I kind of doubt, but I will get to that at the end of this little excercise).  While this is extremely disappointing for Cavs fans, I am too tired right now to properly gauge the emotional weight of this decision.  Instead, I am just going to do a grab bag list of random topics related to this stunning news.

1. ESPN radio host Jason Smith is an idiot. 
 I've always found him to be misinformed, unfunny, and too eager to rely on a tired sports radio cliche to make his point (which, without fail, is also a sports radio cliche).  Tonight, however, the Up All Night host went from being inept and boring to being borderline dishonest. 

In response to tweets he received wondering why ESPN would report news that undermines a prime-time special running on their own network less than 24 hours away, Smith proudly proclaimed that ESPN was a news source first, a TV network second (I'm paraphrasing; Smith could never make a point in such a succinct manner).  Smith said that it would be immoral (again, I'm paraphrasing) for ESPN to bury a scoop as hot as Chris Broussard's breaking LeBron-to-the-Heat news in service of driving up ratings and suspense for the LBJ special, and he actually has a point there.  It would be pretty slimy for ESPN to sit on such huge news, especially if their own reporter broke it. 

The problem, however, is that Chris Broussard didn't break the news.  Alan Hahn at Newsday did.  While I do have enough respect for ESPN that I don't think they would have ignored Hahn's report leading up to tonight's LBJ special, I do think it was awfully disingenuous for Jason Smith to get all sanctimonious about ESPN's journalistic integrity while he simultaneously ignored Alan Hahn's hard work.  The moral of the story:  NEVER LISTEN TO JASON SMITH 

2. What does this mean for the Heat? 
 For starters, LeBron, Bosh, and Wade (along with the only two players currently on the Heat roster, Mario Chalmers and Michael Beasley) give Miami enough players to start a game.  The All-Star trio also gives the Heat 3 of the top 20 players in the league, and 2 of the top 5.  The last team to have 2 of the top 5 players was the early-aughts Lakers, and things went alright for them.  For this Miami team, however, I have trouble seeing things going quite as swimmingly. 

Eric Spoelstra has a long way to go before he can command the respect of three alpha dogs like Phil Jackson can, and while Pat Riley certainly may move down to the sideline at some point, I still think the delicate psychological touch Jackson brings to a team will be missing.  The role players in Miami are far inferior to those Lakers teams, as well, largely due to the fact that the Miami role players are currently league minimum roster holds on the league's balance sheet (the aforementioned Chalmers and Beasley excepted, of course, unless they end up getting moved to Toronto in a sign-and-trade for Bosh).  While I'm certain some veterans desperate for a ring will sacrifice dollars to play with the new big 3, is that really anyway to build a team?  As the Celtics showed in this year's postseason, chemistry can go a long way, and I have a problem envisioning a team comprised of two alpha dogs (Wade and James), an upper-tier second banana who is going to demand touches (Bosh), and a roster full of mercenary vets is going to gel into a well-oiled machine in time for the playoffs. 

3. Bosh as the third wheel does intrigue me. 
Other than pick-and-rolls, how often is a play going to be called for him?  From the few times a year I've seen him play, he seems more of a face-up guy than a post player, so he isn't even going to get the touches down low that Wade and James can't handle (at least not yet, in James case).  Does Chris Bosh seem like the kind of guy who is still going to find a way to put up 15-18 points, pull down 8-10 rebounds, and provide a tough interior presence on defense, ala other famous third wheel such as Horace Grant, Dennis Rodman (who didn't provide that much scoring, but more than made up for it with his tenacious rebounding and defend-anyone-on-the-floor defense), Karl Malone (2004 Lakers version, playing on a team who probably would have beaten Detroit in the Finals if he hadn't messed up his knee), and your pick of Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom (depending on which of them is healthy and/or motivated).  I don't really see it.  In fact, what I could see happening is Wade being the alpha dog, Bosh acting as the second option, and LeBron emerging as some sort of uber-version of Rodman, Malone, and Pippen, with just a dash of Magic Johnson thrown in.  I don't know what becoming the greatest third scoring option in NBA history does for LBJ's legacy, but at least it wouldn't be boring.

4. The losers.

Chicago Bulls:  The Bulls gave away Kirk Heinrich and their first round pick to sign Carlos Boozer.  While it isn't anywhere near as disappointing as the summer of Ron Mercer and Eddie Robinson, Bulls fans had to be expecting a little more than a 70-game-per-season glorified garbage man.

New Jersey Nets:  Despite all the fanfare that accompanied the new Russian owner and his jet skis, it looks like the Nets are going to have to settle for either the lesser free agent options available (they are so lesser that I can't even think of a single one right now) or sitting on their cap room until next summer.  At least they have some young pieces in the form of Brook Lopez, Devin Harris, Terrence Williams, and Derrick Favors, which is more than can be said for the...

New York Knicks:  Yes, they get to pay Amare Stoudamire and his microfractured knee and his detached retina $100 million over the next 5 years, but is Amare plus Toney Douglas, Wilson Chandler, and Danilo Gallinari a playoff team?  Donnie Walsh and Co. did a great job selling Amare on the potential of the 2011 free agent class (to the point where Amare flirted with tampering violations in his recruitment of pending free agents Carmelo Anthony and Tony Parker), but will they be able to sell any of the actual 2011 free agents on Amare?  At least Anthony Randolph is on the way, hopefully to run the most ridiculous set of pick-and-rolls with Amare the world has ever seen.

Cleveland Cavaliers:  While the NBA will once again be irrelevant in Northeast Ohio, at least owner Dan Gilbert had the foresight to change the color of the seats from that hideous aqua blue to a more muted burgundy wine.  Now your HD TV won't explode when you're watching a half-filled Q Arena cheering for Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison to reach .500 on the last day of the season.  This one's a little too depressing to think about.

5. Is this actually going to happen?

I have serious doubts, mostly grounded in the fact that LeBron went to an awful lot of trouble to set up this absurd prime time special and to keep nearly his entire inner circle from knowing his intentions to only have the news leak 19 hours before he was going to make the announcement himself.  Perhaps I'm clinging to a false hope, but this smells like an intentional leak to keep people off his track.  My money's on my buddy Chad's predicition:  he's retiring from the NBA to pursue a career as the Browns' number 2 receiver (behind Carlton Mitchell, of course).

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