Category Archives: Basketball

Donald Sterling’s Word Hole

As the current controversy swirls around Donald Sterling, many people are surprised he could be bounced from the NBA for making racist statements when he is a horrible human being who has done many horrible things over the course of his horrible lifetime. In his basketball dealings, the Clippers owner has consistently treated his players like chattel. In his other businesses, he’s even worse, as he did his best to impose racial quotas on his Los Angeles real estate properties and celebrated beating lawsuits brought against him by elderly widows.

For many, Sterling’s potential demise stemming from something he said in a secretly taped phone conversation feels unsatisfying, like Al Capone going to prison for tax evasion (or maybe racist tax evasion). He said some hideous words—the reasoning goes—but they were just words, which pale in comparison to his past actions.

Such reasoning fails to understand the character of what our world has become. In the 21st century, we have little else but words.

If you’re fortunate enough to live in the First World (the arena where the Sterling mess is being discussed in earnest), chances are you spend your day dealing in total abstractions. Rather than make tangible objects, you arrange words and send them to other people, who read them and arrange their own words in response. Or you interpret data into recommendations for possible future actions for someone else higher on the chain of command, someone you may never see.

If your job does involve making something, it is probably an app or a web site or something else that is, at its core, a carefully arranged series of ones and zeroes. The highest paid, sexiest jobs in our universe hinge on the writing and interpretation of huge blocks of letters and numbers and symbols we call code.

More and more human interaction is performed through some kind of electronic intermediary (the Internet, or some form thereof), free from physical contact and other sensory input, sometimes even free of any sort of context. As our world has grown increasingly abstract, the abstract has increased in value.

Words—abstract expressions, as opposed to action—mean more now than they have at any other point in human history. There was once a wide gap between saying I’m going to punch you in the mouth and actually doing it. The distinction between the two narrows more and more every day.

In such a world, an action is not as important as an event. An event is something that allows people to react publicly (on the internet) in the abstract form of words.

Donald Sterling made two fundamental mistakes that are indicative of him being a product of the 20th century (or, based on his racial politics, maybe the Dark Ages). His first mistake was assuming there’s any such thing as a private communication. His second was making his racism an event. He did so by condensing his horrendous views into a bite-sized chunk that could be easily disseminated and reacted to in the abbreviated channels in which most of us now interact.

In a world in which most of us get our news from condensed media like Twitter, Facebook, or frantic texts from friends and relatives, an event is not important unless it can be quickly understood and engender an immediate reaction across a wide swath of people. Such events have to possess as little ambiguity as possible, and allow people to construct outsized emotional reactions.

The events that have traction in this world are ones that allow uninvolved observers to climb atop soapboxes and adopt stances that bestow upon them a feeling of abstract righteousness. Something will stay in the news as long as it permits people to feel their reaction to it means they’re making a stand, even if that stand consists exclusively of tweeting about it once a day.

These abstractions push aside events that are, materially, far more important. A civil war in the Ukraine is kind of a bigger deal than anything Donald Sterling said, but a civil war has way too many complicating factors to afford any casual observer the luxury of feeling they’re on a side that is totally “right.”

An “important” event also has to emerge, progress, and reach its endgame in a timely manner. The missing Malaysian Airlines flight was enormous news for a few weeks, due to the weirdness of the mystery and human sympathy for those on the flight and their families. Then, it became clear that the story’s resolution was nowhere in sight. Now, as far as the internet is concerned, that story is as over as a TV series that never figured out its own denouement.

Had Sterling’s remarks left any room for interpretation, he could have continued owning an NBA franchise no matter how many employees and tenants he harassed. Instead, he said something so cartoonishly racist it ripped through the internet at lightning speed. It both allowed people to stand firmly against a specific person and a specific thing, and it seemed to point to a specific, imminent conclusion; i.e., kicking Sterling out of the NBA.

Should the NBA’s official reaction to Sterling’s words drag on for any length of time (which it almost certainly will), the internet will be happy to move on to another target of outrage, confident it did its part in getting rid of him. Even if Sterling remains a franchise owner, we will at some point stop talking about him after having talked about him at length for what seemed like a really long time, and that will be sufficient punishment in some people’s minds. If no words are spent on your behalf in this abstract world, do you even exist?

Ray Manzarek, Bill Walton, and Greg Ginn Walk Into a Studio…

waltonUpon hearing of the passing of Ray Manzarek, my first thoughts were not of The Doors or Jim Morrison, but of the keyboardist’s role in one of the weirder albums ever released. The record was called Men Are Made In The Paint, a spoken word project by Bill Walton in which the former UCLA great and NBA analyst shared his thoughts on the game of basketball at length. At great length, in fact, because Men Are Made In The Paint is a double album, clocking in at almost 2 and a half hours of Bill Walton’s witness protection voice talking about hoops.

This is bit odd, but a Bill Walton spoken word album is not especially strange in and of itself. What puts Men Are Made In The Paint over the top is who Walton made the album with, and who released it.

If you’re a former punk rock kid of a certain age, you no doubt remember the little catalogs that came in every SST release, printed on Bible-weight tissue paper and strategically folded so they could hold listings for every record that label put out yet still fit between the CD and booklet for Damaged or Double Nickels on the Dime. One of my former bandmates swore he would one day own every single item in that catalog, and so he made it a point to learn every last release printed thereon, memorizing the backlist of obscure bygone groups like Tom Troccoli’s Dog and Fatso Jetson.

While studying the catalog with talmudic dedication, he discovered a tiny section for something called ISSUES RECORDS. Its only listing was Men Are Made In The Paint. The existence of a Bill Walton double album should have been crazy enough, but it was made doubly (quadruply?) crazy by the fact that Greg Ginn was somehow responsible for its existence. My friend, who worshiped Ginn, would often point to this as a sign of his quixotic genius and proclaimed this thing must be worth listening to it because Ginn deemed it so.

Continue reading Ray Manzarek, Bill Walton, and Greg Ginn Walk Into a Studio…

Why LeBronenfreude Is Okay

As much as I wanted the Mavericks beat the Heat, I also dreaded it, because I knew it would bring out the holiest of the holier-than-thous in the sportswriting racket, ready to leap all over LeBron James because he had not earned it yet. I’m assuming such people dislike him in large part because of the way he left Cleveland, which brings up a thorny sports-related issue I’ve discussed on this site before: If you think an athlete did something that makes them a bad human being, saying that a loss on the playing field/court is “just deserts” for that offense implies that a win would have redeemed the offender.

LeBron James is nowhere near as awful as some of the examples I’ve cited in the past. Really, his only “crime” was to turn his back on the established narrative of his career. If you want, you can add toying with Cleveland’s emotions to the list, plus rubbing salt in the city’s collective wound by celebrating his move to Miami like a 45-year-old creep who just divorced a woman his age and snared a trophy wife. All crummy behavior, to be sure, but not as bad as guys like Ben Roethlisberger or Michael Vick, whose failures to win championships were seen by some sportswriters as “payback” for their off-the-field deeds, an attitude that suggested winning would have forgiven them their trespasses.

So in the immediate aftermath, I cringed at the thought of such pieces on LeBron. I even considered feeling sorry for a 26-year-old billionaire who had so many expectations resting on his shoulders. Not to mention that obsessing over what he did or did not do during the Finals served to diminish what the Mavericks accomplished. By concentrating on LeBron’s “failures,” you essentially say that Miami lost the series more than Dallas won it, which seems extremely unfair to everyone involved. Then there was the narrative of the Mavs being a “team-oriented” squad while the Heat were a “superstar” one, which is usually sportswriter code for “we’re rooting for the white guy.”

So there were a few reasons, initially, to not want to join in piling on LeBron. Until he opened his mouth, that is. Then I realized all the haterade was justified. Maybe even necessary. Because the truth is, he is one eminently hateable human being.

First, it was his postgame press conference response to questions about the hate that’s heaped on him, and how that makes him feel. Now, there’s no easy way to answer this. It’s the kind of question for which a million different responses can come across as whiny or insensitive. Luckily for us, LeBron left no room for ambiguity. He exposed his soul by giving the absolute most head-slappingly douchey answer possible.

All the people that was rooting on me to fail, at the end of the day they have to wake up tomorrow and have the same life that they had before they woke up today. They have the same personal problems they had today.

As bad as that looks in print, it was even worse when voiced. It was not an off-the-cuff remark spoken without thinking in a moment of weakness and frustration. The ease with which he said these words indicated they were thoroughly premeditated, a line he either rehearsed or believes in his heart of hearts.

Now, do people who actively root for the failure of others have problems? Yes, to varying degrees, depending on how deep and sincere those wishes are. And I suppose anyone’s life appears to be full of “personal problems” compared to someone who will never have to worry about money. But to actually say something like this out loud, that only people with crappy lives dislike you, that takes a colossal amount of ego and self delusion. About the same amount that would make you call yourself “King James” when you’ve yet to win anything, I guess.

Not long after this insanity, he tweeted that the Heat didn’t win because “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.” Amazingly, after years of comedians joking about athletes blaming God when they lose, someone actually went and did it. It wasn’t LeBron who failed to show up in the fourth quarter of every game this series, but God.

Also, note the use of the phrase “The Greater Man.” I’ve never heard that used to mean “God.” People usually say, “The Big Man Upstairs,” or something like that. The use of a comparative word (Greater) implies that LeBron thinks he’s on a plane comparable to The Almighty. You know, not quite as big as The Creator, just a few ticks below.

To top it all off, we find out on Monday that LeBron didn’t talk to ABC or ESPN because, according to Jack Ramsay, “James felt the network didn’t report “The Decision” accurately.” That goes beyond chrome-plated balls. That takes gonads made of pure adamantium.

How the holy hell could ESPN not have reported “The Decision” accurately?! They gave LeBron an hour-long infomercial and asked him exactly zero hard questions! ESPN could not have treated him more reverently. The network has LeBron in the same space in their pantheon as Brett Favre (pre-dick pics), someone whose every move will be obsessively followed but never questioned. What more could LeBron want from them? The Oprah soft-focus-lens treatment on every dunk?

I wonder if LeBron is trying to play The Heel, because I can’t think of another reason why he would say such inflammatory things otherwise. Well, except that maybe he’s still a spoiled child whose had nothing but sycophants and enablers in his life for so long that he has zero perspective.

LeBron has been told he’s The Best for so long that the words have no literal meaning to him. LeBron James is The Best. The Best is LeBron James. Everything else in his life must be redefined to fit into these parameters. Those who deny his Bestness do so only because they have personal problems. If he is denied a championship, it is because of an act of God. If “The Decision” makes him look like a creep in the eyes of some, it must be the faulty reportage of the network that carried it, even though said network gave him complete creative control.

If you believe this might be a form of mental illness, you’re free to reserve judgment. Otherwise, hate away.

Jim Dolan, Master Negotiator

jamesdolan.jpgHow did I get this Carmelo Anthony deal done? Cuz I’m a god damn champion. I mean, not in the sense that I’ve ever won anything. But I am a champ at getting things done. Sure, they may not be the right things, or I may not do them correctly, and I may abandon them midstream to leave a mess for someone else to clean up. But the point is, I do them.

When you go into negotiations like this, you have to show no mercy. Show the eye of the tiger. Be hungry like the wolf. Make sure the look of love is in your eyes. You march into that room, and you say to the man on the other side of the table, in no uncertain terms, “I need to make this deal desperately and no price is too high.” If they walk away from you with a mix of pity and disgust, lunge at their ankles so they can’t leave the room. Crawl if you have to. That’s how you show ’em who’s boss.

I learned to negotiate the same way I learned to play the blues: By watching the greats. With the blues, I observed the greatest artists ever, those masterful interpreters of song, Dan Aykroyd and Jim Belushi. When you listen to those guys, you understand just how much soul and suffering goes into the music, and also sunglasses. To learn the art of the deal, I watched Aykroyd and Belushi, too. Those guys can sure negotiate their way around a mean mouth harp solo.

For those naysayers out there, nay all you want. We had to make this deal now. The Knicks are two whole games over .500. Cash in all those chips now, baby! The team as it was constructed before had a ceiling of maybe 50 wins. Carmelo Anthony easily makes us a 52-win team.

I’m confident we can get Carmelo to sign an extension. The Knicks play in the greatest arena in the world, Madison Square Garden. Not only is it in the middle of Manhattan, it is in the worst, most expensive, and most unlivable part of Manhattan! Our arena is packed to the gills every day, with commuters dashing desperately for the next train to Piscataway or Levittown. You can’t put a price on that kind of exposure! Plus, there is a Pretzel Time in our sub-basement. ‘Nuff said.

If things get dicey with signing Carmelo, I’ll just bring in my good buddy Isiah Thomas to seal the deal. He’s got a real window into the way these young stars think, since he used to be one, too. I mean, that’s what I hear. I didn’t pay too much attention to basketball back then in the early 90s or whatever.

Plus, we’ve got way too much cap room right now, and I could use Isiah’s help figuring out how to waste it as quickly as possible. I’d like his take on this Latvian point guard I’ve got my eye on. He’s 5’9″ and 335 pounds, but I think he’s got spunk. (“Spunk” is the name of a rare lung ailment indigenous to his region, though I hear it’s treatable.)

Some people don’t like this deal because they think it means the end for Donnie Walsh in the Knicks organization. Nothing could be further from the truth. Donnie has done great things for this team and I want him with us going forward. As long as he’s cool with me making crazy trades all the time and running the draft and undermining his authority in public on occasion. I’m sure he’d have no problem with that. Oh, and we’re probably moving his office next to the Pretzel Time in the sub-basement. But other than that, no changes.

I know not everybody’s not gonna like this deal, and to those people I say, “suck it.” No, seriously, I say “eat it.” No, on second thought, I like “suck it” better. If you don’t like it, why don’t you go run your own basketball team? I put in the work, people. I made sure I was born with several billion dollars to a dad who owns a major cable monopoly. If you whiners had just pulled yourself up from your bootstraps, you could’ve done that, too.

The Knicks are gonna do great things this year. As for next year? Life’s too short to be worrying about tomorrow, man! Live every day like it’s your last. That’s what I do: commit insane deeds with no thought for the future. Can’t argue with the results! I mean, you can, but don’t, okay?

What Should LeBron Do?

What should I do?

Should I tell you I made mistakes? Or should I just imply it was my teammates’ fault? That always worked before.

Should I paraphrase Maya Angelou and implicitly compare her narrative of black struggle in America to me getting a shit-ton of money to play in Miami? Classy, huh?

Should I go to Chris Bosh’s housewarming party? He just had a thing at his place last week and I brought a nice bottle of wine. That should be enough, right?

Should I just sell shoes? Because that’s basically what I’ve been doing so far and it’s worked out pretty good.

Should I be who you want me to be? Because I don’t change myself for nobody. Except Dwayne Wade.

Should I get Thai for lunch? I just had it yesterday but I’m still feelin it, you know?

Should I stop listening to my friends? C’mon, they’re my friends. If your friends asked you to stop listening to your friends, would you do it? I would. That’s the kind of friend I am.

Should I go on this whitewater rafting trip with Delonte West? I think it’s gonna be really awkward.

Should I be the villain? If so, I want a really big office with a shark tank. A villain ain’t nothin without a shark tank.

Should I really do this Miami Vice segment with Don Johnson, even though I was like negative-three when that show was canceled?

Should I carry Dwayne Wade’s bags into the locker room? And should I let him make me wear a bellhop cap when I do it?

Should I destroy a pristine professional-level basketball court with a bulldozer? Is that a big enough let-them-eat-cake moment? What if I burn a gold-covered Dead Sea Scroll?

Should I be who you want me to be? Because if it’ll get me 5 extra bucks, I will totally do it.

Transcripts from the LeBron Tapes

Don’t think for one min that I haven’t been taking mental notes
of everyone taking shots at me this summer. And I mean everyone!
— @KingJames, 8.10.2010

lebronnixon.jpgKing James: You take a fellow like this Michael Jordan, I notice–he is always creating something, isn’t he?

Bosh: He incidentally is on–you shouldn’t get involved in this, but he’s on our list, too.

King James: Good.

Bosh: They’re going after a couple of ex-ballers. They’re going after Charles Barkley, too.

King James: Like what? Have they been making any money on the outside?

Bosh: Those two? You kidding me? We think they might have something on them, yeah. I think we can finally get [NBA commissioner David] Stern to admit he really suspended Jordan for gambling that time when he pretended to play baseball. Just want to harass them. Just give them a little trouble.

King James: Exactly. Pound these people.

Bosh: Just give them something to worry about.

King James: It’s routine.

Bosh: Yeah. Oh, that’s right, you talked to [Dwayne] Wade today, too. He was trying to dig up some dirt of Kevin Durant. I can’t even remember why.

King James: That subdued extension announcement of his. No ESPN special. No dry ice. Nothing. Just tweeted about it, like he’s trying to out-humble me. Pissed me off.

Bosh: Should we sic Jim Gray on him? The man’s loyal.

King James: Gray? He ain’t no attack dog.

Bosh: Are you kidding? Dig you see him rip apart Corey Pavin?

King James: Alright, but do it through the proper channels. We can’t have this shit coming back to me.

Bosh: Of course.

King James: [inaudible] Delonte West?

Bosh: He was traded with Sebastain Telfair, then released by the Timberwolves. Haven’t we done enough?

The Unbearable Lameness of Chris Paul

Yesterday, Barry Petchesky at Deadspin wondered why Chris Paul’s public and prolonged demand to be traded from the New Orleans Hornets was not getting the same amount of “outrage” as LeBron James’ Decision/Hank Scorpio-esque unveiling in Miami. There is a very simple reason: While Chris Paul’s gambit is a total dick move, it is also totally lame.

The NBA free agent frenzy is, for all intents and purposes, over (the fact that Tracy McGrady is the most coveted remaining free agent would indicate so). The weeping and gnashing of teeth over L’Affaire LeBron has subsided, at least until the basketball season begins anew. With football training camps opening within the next week, NFL talk is starting to dominate the sports talk-o-sphere (C).

In other words, there’s no damn reason at all to be hearing from Mr. Paul. But clearly, he saw what LeBron did and stomped his feet and thought, “I shall not be out-douched!”

You could argue that what Chris Paul did was worse than what LeBron did. After all, LeBron’s free agency was anticipated by every human being on the planet for years (at least that’s what ESPN says). As crappily as he handled the whole thing, everyone and his mom (especially your mom) knew he might leave Cleveland. Paul’s demands to be traded, on the other hand, came out of nowhere, and were seemingly motivated by little more than LeBron’s histrionics.

However, while LeBron certainly deserves scorn, Paul only deserves laughter. Because what LeBron did, when he did it and how he did it, was a supremely shitty thing to do. But what Paul idid is just funny.

Coming on the heels of LeBron’s move, Paul’s machinations had the feeling of a shameless attempt to exploit a fad that’s already passed. It’s like releasing a third or fourth lambada movie in 1990. Or rushing into the studio to record a swing album in 2001. Or pretty much the entire Golan-Globus filmography. If LeBron is Rambo, then Paul is Cobra.

The overall lameness of Paul’s move is accentuated by the fact that he didn’t have a leg to stand on. The Hornets had neither the incentive nor the imperative to trade him. Paul couldn’t opt out of his contract. Basically, he had zero power in this situation, but operated as if he was in total control. Depending on your perspective, that either takes an enormous amount of balls or an amazing lack of brains.

Paul seems to realize this now; on Monday, he had meetings with the Hornets, and made statements afterward that indicated he was throwing in the towel. Because when it comes to the offseason, no one wants to be the free agent equivalent of Delta Force 3 or Death Wish 5.

LeBron to Cleveland: Drop Dead

lebronnyy.jpgNow that I’ve made my decision to go to the Miami Heat, I have a special message for my fans back in Cleveland: I hate you, every last one of you. Your town was like a noose around my neck, and you and your stupid love and admiration was the tightest loop of all.

How much do I hate you? I strung you along for weeks, letting you think the Cavs were still in the running for my services. I scheduled an hour-long TV special about my decision, to make everyone think “there’s no way he’d do something like that and rip Cleveland’s heart out”. And that’s exactly what I did. Oh man, that was sweet!

Did you think I was actually going to stay? Jesus, are all of you that stupid?! I’ve been counting down the seconds to free agency since the day I was drafted. I’ve been bigger than that town since the day I was born. I said was a Cowboys fan. A Cowboys fan! I wore a fucking Yankees hat to an Indians playoff game against the Yankees. How could I have made my contempt for you dumbasses more obvious, without literally shitting on every single on of you?

You know why I disappeared in the playoffs this year? Because the thought of winning a championship for you people made me gag.

Am I bigger than Miami? Of course I am. If a better situation than Miami comes along, I’ll opt out of this contract so fast you won’t believe it. But at least Miami won’t give a shit when I do. That’s what makes this deal even better for me: I gave up Cleveland–a city that loves its teams even though they break its heart over and over again–for Miami, one of the worst sports towns in America. Oh, irony, you taste so sweet upon my lips!

God, I feel so free! You can’t imagine what this is like. And you will never know what this is like, because you’ll stay in that horrible town of yours until you drop dead of a heart attack or fall into a burning lake or however it is you people end your miserable lives.

This weekend, I’m off to party in South Beach, another place you’ll never be. I’m going to film this entire party on expensive HD cameras, put the best footage on a DVD, and mail copies to every single one of you. Then, I’m gonna send a guy to each of your houses to force you to watch it at gunpoint.

But first, I have to burn all of my Cleveland clothes, and take a shower to wash the stink of Failure-Town off my body.

LeBron James and the Beginning of the End

lebron.jpgLeBron James’ one-hour ESPN special–THE DECISION–marks a sea change in sports, media, and sports media. And none of these changes are good.

I struggled to think of something snotty or sarcastic to write about this event, but the more I wracked my brain, the more I came back to this simple fact: This is not funny at all. This is deeply, deeply fucked up.

Yes, LeBron is donating advertising proceeds for this thing to The Boys and Girls Clubs (how much of the total proceeds remains to be seen). But that just sugarcoats what this really is: An enormous figure in a certain field buying a glorified infomercial on the number one news outlet for that field. ESPN is supposed to be a news organization, and this pretty much destroys any objectivity and credibility they have.

It’s certainly not the first time ESPN has kowtowed before a huge star in a certain sport. They cover each agonizing Brett Favre retirement saga with unquestioning reverence. Despite whispers that Tiger Woods might not be the best guy in the world, ESPN never had any tough questions for him until his personal problems became un-ignorable.

Such glossing-over and looking the other way is unremarkable in sports media. There’s always been an undercurrent of Hero Worship amongst sports reporters, and most of them would rather keep locker room access than lose it by asking pointed questions. But to actually allow an athlete to, for all intents and purposes, buy time on your network to erect a monument to himself? That brings this to a whole other, creepy level.

LeBron has chosen ESPN to be the stage for this exclusive show, which makes sense, since he’s been their lead story every single day since the NBA Finals ended. But what kind of favor does that buy? What happens when a news network becomes so invested in a certain person that person can not fail and can not be made to look bad? If you took a peek at FOX News between the years of 2000 and 2008, you might have an idea.

And yes, of course, the stakes are much, much lower for anything LeBron will do with his life than the things that FOX News covers on a daily basis. It’s not a perfect analogy, but I think you can see parallels, no?

What is the purpose of this event? The purpose of this event is to be an event. THE DECISION has nothing to do with the NBA, or basketball, or even sports, really. It is just another spectacle in the never-ending summer blockbuster that is LeBron James. He’s not a competitor–he’s a conglomerate. There are many athletes in many sports about whom you could say the same, but LeBron is the ne plus ultra.

There’s always been something unseemly about LeBron James the Public Figure, something unapproachable and removed from mere humanity, right down to his nickname: King James. What is his biggest ad campaign? We Are All Witnesses. There is no interaction between LeBron and the rest of the world. We must simply stand back and watch what he does, because we could never hope to touch his regal garments.

Even when he gets goofy, it’s weirdly insular. Like the ads from a few years ago, where he played different members of a fictional LeBron family. It’s still LeBron playing with himself. Only LeBron is good enough to be with LeBron.

Whoever LeBron signs with, this special will be a celebration of nothing but himself. We’ll get the obligatory soft-focus interview, with softball questions about how tough this all must be for him. Slo-mo shots of LeBron throwing the chalk dust in the air (ironically, in front of adoring crowds he will, in all likelihood, now turn his back on). And then he’ll hand the rose to some lucky team, and ESPN will get to EXCLUSIVELY dissect the move and what it means for the NBA–while never mentioning the fact that the NBA is a joke for allowing this grotesque spectacle to happen.

And for what? So a “legend” can feel more legendary. So a guy who received $90 million from Nike before he bounced a single professional dribble can extend his brand to that 0.0001% portion of the globe that doesn’t know him already. All from an athlete who has said lots of things about marketing over the years (like how he wants to be the world’s first billion dollar athlete), but precious little about winning anything.

This is the worst part of all of this: The sport’s highest-profile player has zero interest in winning anything. The whole point of sports is that everyone playing is trying their best to win. If you don’t have that, what do you have? LeBron is not a basketball player. He’s a multimedia superstar who plays basketball. He would be doing the same thing if he played baseball or lacrosse or was a professional pillow fighter. Winning doesn’t matter to him because in his universe, he has already won.

I don’t care how humble LeBron’s origins are. This is as bad as if Donald Trump bought an hour of prime time to eat diamonds (which I guess is what The Apprentice is, in a way).

THE DECISION gross and decadent and monstrous and just plain wrong. I can imagine ancient Roman gladiators deciding who they would kill in the arena with such trumped up pomp and ceremony. It makes me ashamed to be a sports fan, and a little ashamed to be an American.

This is definitely an Alien vs. Predator situation: No matter who wins, we lose.

Negotiations Continue with LeBron’s Jersey

lebronjersey.jpgPHILADELPHIA, PA — LeBron James’ jersey, the most sought after free agent jersey in the National Basketball Association, continues to conduct meetings with interested teams today. The media has descended on Mitchell and Ness headquarters in Pennsylvania as LeBron James’ jersey tries to come to a decision. It is the most highly anticipated free agent jersey signing since Kobe Bryant’s jersey switched its number in 2006.

In the 48 hours since the NBA’s free agent signing period began, LeBron James’ jersey–arguably one of the most famous jerseys in all of sports–has already met with the Miami Heat, the Chicago Bulls, the New York Knicks, and the New Jersey Nets. The Los Angeles Clippers and Cleveland Cavaliers will conference with the jersey at some point today.

With all teams expected to offer LeBron James’ jersey the maximum amount allowed by the NBA’s salary cap, other incentives will come into play in the jersey’s decision. The Nets have pitched their red, white, and blue color scheme, while the Heat hope that their wide array of home and away uniform styles will intrigue the jersey.

The Golden State Warriors have not been considered a serious suitor for LeBron James’ jersey as of yet. But some insiders feel that if the team was able to clear some cap room, they could enter the hunt. Golden State could be an interesting destination for LeBron James’ jersey, despite a dearth of on-court talent and a front office in rebuilding mode, because of the team’s array of sweet throwback unis.

“Can you image LeBron James’ jersey in one of those sick ‘The City’ tops from the early 70s?” asked one league GM. “They’d fly off the shelves. It’d make the Warriors unstoppable, from a marketing standpoint.”

Meanwhile, in Beaverton, Oregon, the buzz around LeBron James’ shoes has been far less brisk, but is expected to pick up once LeBron James’ jersey finally comes to a decision.

“Once LeBron James’ jersey signs, I expect to see a scramble for the next tier of free agent merchandise,” guessed another league GM. “LeBron’s shoes, Dwayne Wade’s jersey, and Chris Bosh’s sweatbands would go next, I think. And other teams may hope to avoid this drama next year. I hear the Nuggets are trying to work out an extension with Carmelo Anthony’s sleeve thingy.”