Thursday, July 08, 2010
Upon Inspection of Speculation
Lebron James will announce his new team later tonight. Maybe I should avoid writing and just wait a few hours to hear his announcement, but the process leading up to this moment has been too ridiculous to not comment on. But this blog post isn't about my prediction as to where he'll go, I'm more intrigued by the drama of this whole mess. It really feels like somebody wrote this story, but if that is the case, then all of the speculation is a big waste of mental energy. What's so special about this story? Track with me if possible.
So the biggest class of free agents ever hits the NBA market a couple weeks ago. They're all meeting with various teams, and a few key players (Lebron, Wade, and Bosh) jump out ahead of the pack and into a spotlight. Even though Joe Johnson, Amare Stoudamire, Carlos Boozer and other players are available, we don't hear much about them in this story until they've actually signed a deal. There's no drama with those latter players, they're actually quite quiet about their business meetings.
But the big three are vocal (OR amazingly silent when they want to be) about who they're meeting with, when, and where. The where is particularly interesting to me. With the exception of Cleveland, the big three are looking for teams in Chicago, the New York area, Los Angeles, and Miami. These are the biggest, most culturally and economically vibrant cities in the country. The top markets. It almost seems pre-planned, doesn't it? The free agents in Dallas, Oklahoma City and Atlanta resigned relatively quickly and without hoopla, so the fans in those places can just wait for their season to start. But millions of people in the biggest cities in America are still waiting for a decision from Lebron James. They've been wondering for weeks, and even though plenty of moves have been made, there's still no idea. Even on the day of the announcement, no idea.
How can a secret like this be kept? I mean, who wrote this script? Is the NBA the new professional wrestling? Russian billionaires, Jay-Z, Spike Lee, and Lebron James. What a cast. How can this be real? How can all of the sports experts across the country have nothing to hang their hats on? How has all remained mere speculation?
And there's the key word: speculation. We in the big cities have been trying to create reasons as to why Lebron will come to our particular team. We all hope that it's because either he wants to win (Chicago), wants to make money (Cleveland), and various other answers that also involve making money (Nets, New York, Miami). But, seriously, this has been playing out a little too perfectly.
The day before Lebron's announcement, Wade and Bosh announce they'll both be playing in Miami (sounding like a pretty big temptation for anyone who wants to compete for championships). But also, the Bulls sign Carlos Boozer, while leaving enough salary space to still pay for Lebron today. He's hosting his announcement show near a New York Knicks facility, but also in Jay-Z's neighborhood. But, again, this is all speculative information. Everything mentioned in this paragraph could mean nothing. Maybe one of those sentences will be relevant after Lebron makes his decision, but all of the others will disappear.
And that's why all of this speculation is a waste of mental energy. If it's really true that NOBODY knows what Lebron will decide tonight, the past week of guessing games has been useless. Has it been entertaining? No, it's been a waste.
Watching Lebron James play basketball is entertaining. He's the most athletic player in the league, maybe the greatest athlete in the entire world. But that means he shouldn't have to turn basketball into pro wrestling in order to make the game fun.
Wrestling doesn't really require any speculation, you just have to sit back and enjoy the show. Sometimes throw a middle finger in the air for some reason, and boom, you're a fan. There's no telling what will happen in wrestling, unless you're one of the writers. The writer has to do the thinking, the fan can just turn his brain off and yell.
If it wasn't Lebron, somebody wrote this free agency story. Somebody planned this long ago, and it has been playing out according to a perfect timetable. And like all good stories, the ending will have a twist. Whatever Lebron does tonight will not be what we expected. That's what good writers do. Through the storytelling process they hide what was there all along. And once we see it at the end we smack our foreheads like we should've seen it all along.
The only other possibility is that this nonsense actually has been legitimate. All of the business meetings have been sincere attempts on each individual's part to find the best deal available. And every single deal has preceded Lebron's decision simply because the King hasn't made up his mind yet. If THAT'S the case, then the speculation is warranted.
And this is what's so interesting to me. I honestly can't tell if this has been written, or if it's legitimate. How can this be? In the age of Twitter, how can we really not know yet? It's like I'm watching Ali G for the first time all over again. "What is this? Who is this guy? Why is this on TV?"
Should I be speculating? Or should I just assume it's a part of a big entertainment machine built for drama? It makes me hate and love Lebron all in one weird emotion. If he can orchestrate buzz like this, whether it's real or not, (and without leaking a hair of information!) he's a man of the times unlike any other sports figure in the world. He's a great basketball player, but he might also be a brilliant dramatist. Maybe he'll end up in Los Angeles after all...