LeBron James and the ESPN Broadcast of Free Agent Indifference

Imagine being a 12 year old agonizing where your favorite player will land in the most unique free agency period of your lifetime…a fan of the free agent’s current team but excited nonetheless. You could care less of egos or media or fans of teams abhorring the decision process because ultimately where he plays puts him in direct competition with the team they so love.

Your and your friends debate his potential destination while on the court yourselves. Everyone wants to be 23 and calls out “LeBron!” when they take a shot, make a sickdiculous pass, snag a ferocious rebound or smack a weak attempt off glass.

Inside of an individual’s decision, your love of the rock is cemented and anticipation for the next season is heightened. Others who might not be a fan of the player secretly wish and hope he puts on their favorite team’s uniform during the selection show.

Proceeds of the one hour program will go to a charity benefiting children. What’s the problem?

*I added an addendum at the bottom of the piece on July 8th. It’s a conversation I had with LeBron last season.

Yes, it’s different. Yes, this is something we have never before seen. Yes, LeBron James is making teams come to him.

Why not take control of his future? Corporations do it. Sports franchise owners do it. Why not LeBron?

Remember, Barack Obama has weighed in. Despite the World Cup being the preeminent sports story across the globe, anyone within sports earshot has said LeBron’s name at least once.

He will be viewed as an egomaniac by a society kissing themselves whenever they see a pretentious mirror. He will be viewed as an egomaniac by a society hoping when the phone rings it’s another HR department on the line offering more money than they currently earn with their present employer.

Why shouldn’t a player in his sui generis position live every single second of this process as if moments become days and years of memorable spaces of time?

Despite the lack of rings to his pedigree, LeBron has virtually replaced the names of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade from the lips of fans who know they both have won championships.

He is the face of the league.

He was a superstar the minute he stepped into Arco Arena for his NBA game one. Mother high school hummers and scrutinized jerseys three from way back have created an image of indisputable super stardom outside of his incomparable athletic performance.

Why should this decision be made in the small town back yards of slowed down walks of life as yet another old timer casually sips his sweet tea with traditional American mannerisms intact?

I’ve had a major gripe with LeBron James but in this instance…not so much.

Isn’t the system taking advantage of LeBron as he bites the tail of the chasing dog himself?

During a conversation on twitter last night, writer Sandy Dover (we have a tremendous interview forthcoming) said it best:

@michaeltillery LBJ represents youth resiliency, the true essence of free market capitalism & socioeconomic-ethnic ascendancy.

I cannot have said it better. In essence, LeBron represents change. John Wall new NBA dude change. Sports and entertainment change.

Why not be the first of his kind? Why is the NBA once again on the viscous fan and media scrutiny list when boatloads of green sails seamlessly into the ports of other sports as well?

He has the sports world by the balls and generations of his family will benefit as a result. Isn’t LBJ in fact his own corporation? A corporation in control of his own interests?

He’s not a shoot first player, so the egomania moniker simply doesn’t fit. He is one of the most accessible athletes I’ve ever engaged despite an appearance to the contrary.

He’s human!

Buck one or buck billion.

Writers are actually afraid to approach LeBron in locker rooms across America simply because of what they have heard.


This creates a point of contention fans of the game cannot understand because the lines of apprehensive writers become distorted without getting quotes from LeBron himself.

LeBron should have a hand in creating his legacy correct?

Kids are watching. They don’t care about the other stuff.

Isn’t David Stern secretly wringing  his hands together in Daffy Duck hypothetical splendor as two more grand ladies ask “who is this King James”?

One thing of huge note is LeBron has never faded in rockin’ a New York Yankee fitted. If LeBron goes to New York everybody capitalizes and the Knicks are back on the NBA map.

Stern wins.

Just think, would LBJ go through all this hoopla to stay in Cleveland?

Would you be disappointed given the hype of a 1 hour special if he remained a member of the Cavaliers?


I asked David Stern a couple years ago during the playoffs about the traditional franchises in the league playing under the level (including Philly).

The first team he mentioned was the New York Knicks and he looked me straight in the eye when he said it.

James will instantly become the most famous New York Knickerbocker ever and could bankroll his celebrity into unimaginable fortune.

Jeter, ARod, Carsten Charles and LeBron.

He’s making the announcement in Greewich, Connecticut…a mere 15 minutes away from the Knicks practice facility.

Yet and still, Cleveland obviously is not out of this because Ohio is where LBJ rests his head.

Can you imagine being a child of Akron if LeBron decides to stay home? A ten year old from those same LeBron walked streets who very much could muster the ability to dunk a ball in the aftermath of an amazingly excitable announcement.

Ah…the soul model who produces confidence in those not of his name.

He will become an Ohio hero of Craig Ehlo get back proportions if he stays in Cleveland.

Even if he leaves, Cleveland Ohio would still love him because they too in fact would understand the magnitude of the opportunity before him.

He is a NBA executive dream.

Presumably, won’t advertising dollars sky rocket for the 2011 NBA season for a league estranged from its general fan base?

Of course this is about greedy money but it’s also about marketing the sport to a new generation of fans in and outside of the game.

Why the hell do you think Jay-Z is on David Letterman?

Prepare to potentially have your heart broken New York but let yourselves openly think New Jersey could possibly benefit later.

For the record, I’ve said it from the gate that LeBron should sign a 3 year deal to remain in Cleveland so his options will remain open to the possibility of playing in Brooklyn sometime after the arena is completed.

Are you getting the vibe, no one really knows anything about where LeBron James will play next season.

LeBron will be under tremendous scrutiny no matter what he does. Will he see the path of Oscar Robertson, Philadelphia Dr. J, Kareem, Mike or Kobe?

How about none of the above? Will that be OK?

I hope so. After all, aren’t you a fan?

Those neighborhood kids alluded to earlier, won’t they somehow manage tickets when LeBron happens upon their town thus creating memories for themselves and subsequently their children?

This is his life not the impatient ours.

His decision to make his destination known on ESPN is bold but also one that will cement his status from barber shops in Akron to the thick bricks of Lithuania.

We live in such a hypocritical society. A society where cynics have become almost the exclusive voice as if they themselves walk in boss Akron shoes.

You can’t knock his hustle or that of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh who reportedly have decided to play for the Miami Heat.

Akron get your popcorn ready or will he become the King of New York?

It’s one of the two maybe.

Get that money LeBron. You’re 25. Time shines upon you but once and one day you will smile as your grand kids themselves shoot the name of the next generational star with the excited anticipation of a Christmas eyed gift.

This is a new day. Instead of having these shattered shocked eyes locked in unrealistic sports tradition, step back, take a deep breath and accept reality with prejudice if you so choose.

After all, it is in fact your choice.

Addendum: 4:52 am July 8th. Take from this what you will with respect to what he says about Michael Jordan’s off the court legacy…

I had a conversation with LeBron earlier this year about the potential number change. Here it is:

Speaking of the 6 jersey…

The entire three week period I was in Cleveland, I didn’t get the chance to ask LeBron about the number change. I thought it was appropiate he commented on it here (in Philly), given what Doc means to the city. I’d spoken to him earlier in the season about the switch:

MT: Some people are taking the switch as a slight to history…you know Bill Russell, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson…to name a few…to say how come their number isn’t being retired…

LBJ: MJ had more of an impact than anyone off the court in history. His numbers speak for themselves on the court but what he was able to do off the court also inspired (me) to want to play the game of basketball goes without saying. I think Magic, Bird and Wilt were unbelievable but none of those guys did what MJ did off the court as far as inspiring people to want to be great, wanting to be able to fly, jump and do the things Mike did and be in commercials and things like that.

MT: Do you think that has a lot to do with the digital age…the age we are in now?

LBJ: I think it’s all about timing too. When you have great timing, things work out for you.

MT: Are you happy with the evolution of the game so far?

LBJ: Uh…I mean…it’s uh…I think the ’80?s uh…presented better basketball players. I think early ’90?s also. The game…uh..is still great of course. It’s the greatest league that we have in the world. It’s the greatest sport I feel that we have. I feel like over the last few years…some of the guys…you know…GM’s…or whatever…kinda draft or pick off potential sometimes. That’s why you see some young guys taking four or five years to be able to get minutes or play to the abilities that those GM’s or coaches wanted them to be at. I think back in the ’80?s, if you weren’t four years out of college or you weren’t already twenty five or twenty six old, you wasn’t going to get an opportunity. That’s why the game was so much better.

MT: If you look back in history…Kobe…when I talked to him said he pulls from different players in history. Were there certain players you watched and picked up a move or a shot or something like that?

LBJ: Nah…I never picked any shots up. When you think of a fade-a-way you think of Jordan of course. When you think of a skyhook or a running skyhook across the lane you think of Magic. When you think of passing or a no look pass you think of Magic. There’s no one I took game from. There are a lot of people who inspired my game…MJ being one of them…Penny Hardaway being another…and Grant Hill being another one growing up around that time. There wasn’t anyone’s game that I kinda picked and said I want to add this to my game.

This is what LeBron gave me Friday (3-12-10)…

MT: LeBron when I was growing up, I wore #44…Reggie Jackson’s #44…which reminded me and taught me a lot about Hank Aaron. #6 is big in this city. Could you talk about how the potential change to #6 is going to bring awareness to Dr. J?

LBJ: I respect Doc. I respect Bill Russell and all the guys who wore #6 but it’s not because of Dr. J. There’s a lot of personal reasons why I’ve changed to #6. I don’t need to go into it but I’ve worn #6 in the Olympics. I’ve worn #6 when I first started playing as a youngster but, if I can shine a light on Dr. J’s career I’m all for it too but it’s not the main reason why I’m doing it.

27 Responses to “LeBron James and the ESPN Broadcast of Free Agent Indifference”

  1. Origin says:

    Great write up brotha Mizzo. People have to understand that this is bigger then Lebron. The media and the league are behind the scenes pulling strings and helping make this happen.

    I told my wife yesterday after ESPN announced he would do a press conference on Thursday that this had to be planned months ahead with ESPN and Lebron and probably the league too.

    1 hour later websites began to run reports that the press conference had been planned for months. I mean really this isn’t surprising with ESPN. This is the same network that had a town hall meeting in ATL about Vick……….I mean really!!!

    This is a network that doesn’t even discuss the NBA during the season………heck in the last 2 weeks the network, radio station and website have talked about the NBA more then they have the last 5 years combined. The last time the network even discussed the NBA this much was when Ron Artest ran into the crowd or when Carmello slapped a player in MSG.

    Think about this…………..VIck, Vince and Russell situations have been some what put on the back burner to talk about Lebron. Man I never thought in 5 million years that 3 black QBs getting in trouble would be overshadowed by the NBA.

    Anyway Mizzo if Lebron stays in Cleveland I will be shocked. The move by Bosh might have guaranteed him leaving. I tell you what if he leaves and goes to chicago then I might have to play the lottery. Since I have been on the Boozer & Lebron to Chi and the Wade % Bosh to Miami.

    Hopefully Darko and Amare will be the only ones messing up my free agency predictions this offseason….LOL!!!

  2. Dre says:

    Great article. I couldn’t ve said it better myself. There’s a lot of hypocrisy out there and it’s sickening.

    People can say what they want about LeBron and some criticism is justified for sure, but the guy is one of the top players in the game and will go down as one of the best ever, barring unforseen events. Not to mention he sells tickets (99% of the game involving LeBron, road games included) are sold out, he’s only 2nd to Kobe when it comes to jersey sales (it won’t take him long to overtake Kobe), he moves the tv ratings meter so lots of people enjoy watching him playing. Haters can say what they want.

    And I may be in the minority, but I think LeBron is staying put. If not, he’s Chicago or Miami bound. I’m not sold on Knicks and Nets.

  3. Esquire says:

    Nice piece. Its perfectly fine for ESPN to do a Lebron Watch for the past 10 months, but its not OK for him to call a press conference to announce his choice. Yeah…Ok. It is beyond hypocritical for them to criticize him for this, but I suppose that is pretty much business as usual.

    I do think Lebron shot himself in the foot a lil bit here though with how he handled the whole thing. I feel like he made a similar (but not nearly as vocal and even wreckless) mistake that Kobe made when he faced free agency. Basically, how can you convince someone else to come play with you when you seem to have one foot out the door?

    Lebron is pretty much Mr. Ohio. With him seriously thinking of leaving, its tough to talk anyone into coming there. I definitely respect his decision and right to look around and have no problems with it. But from a pure hoops perspective I think the Cavs were a Joe Johnson away from finally getting over the hump and if Lebron had played a bit more coy with how much interest he had in moving on, they may have been able to grab a guy.

    I think you are dead on and Lebron should have done a 3 year extension and made with the sales campaign to get another guy to come to Cleveland. If the team continues to struggle in the playoffs he could then say he gave it another shot and bounce. There would still be critics, but I don’t think it would be as bad. Now, I think he stands to look bad regardless, which is definitely unfortunate but may have been avoidable.

  4. Origin says:

    Great points Esquire.

    I hate that they are getting on him too for having a press conference on ESPN. Then for the folks in the media to act like he is the villain is a joke.

    Folks have press conferences for everything now……….whats so bad about Lebron having one about whether he stays or leaves.

  5. Cliff says:

    This is a great write up. I would like to say that I don’t want to believe that Lebron James would hold a press conference on national television to tell the world he is leaving his home team. It’s bad enough that he would basically kill sports in the Cleveland area. I can imagine how those people in Cleveland are going to feel watching the East Coast media revel in him leaving. I think he’s staying in Cleveland because I can’t see him hurting them like that. If I am wrong and he goes to the Knicks I will lose a lot of respect for him because he could have just announced it and moved on.

  6. Loved this piece. You made some very valid points and I will be passing this post on for others to read. At least he is having a press conference about something positive and not about personal scandals that the media can’t wait to talk about.

  7. Mizzo says:

    Thank you all. Just want to add a different perspective to what you all hear daily.

  8. I do feel bad for a few people involved, including LeBron. The reporters covering the situation for ESPN now have to sit on their hands. That’s not fair. What is someone from FoxSports Cleveland or some other news agency tries to buy a scoop? The suits at ESPN has guaranteed themselves a scoop. But does money talk?
    Stern loves this, I guarantee. Even if LeBron goes to Cleveland. This whole thing made the Knicks relevant again.
    I do feel bad for LeBron. Yeah, it’s his money now, but have you ever seen a job hunt so crazy? Is that worth it? Kevin Durant obviously didn’t think so. I know my job hunts have never been like that, even for .00001% of the salary.
    And no matter where he picks, he bought fans booing him in one city or another. If he doesn’t pick the Knicks, there will be no Reggie Miller respect in the Garden. I bet he will be like Kobe in Philly. Shun Cleveland, and that youngster won’t understand. Mo Williams jerseys just don’t fit as nice.
    Great write up, Mizzo. Just throwing in my 2 cents.

  9. Origin says:

    Jordi great points on ESPN.

    They are also spitting out rumors to flame the fire and get people to watch.

    This is like a reality tv special on VH1…………its all about the ratings.

    Mizzo………..Boozer just signed with the bulls. So 1 down and 1 to go.

    Like I told folks back home in the Chi. Getting Lebron will be easier then getting the blackhawks to win a championship over the last 40+ years.

  10. Origin says:

    KinaGolightly you make a great point.

    Another thing Mizzo as a young dude I watched both MJ retirement press conferences as a Bull. Plus the 2 times he came back……..man this stuff reminds me of those MJ retirements.

    I can’t blame the NBA………..I know they are loving this. First the finals have the best rating since MJ played the Jazz. Now the free agency has been big enough to even kick the NFL training camp and MLB season to the back door.

    Man I actually love this stuff. But hey I like the NBA more then any of the other sports combined.

  11. Alex says:

    I think LeBron has been prepping for this moment for a long time… I mean, in this video you can see that he’s kept his mouth shut, playing his cards right for the last few years. The man’s brilliant.:


  12. […] the Floor « The First Shoe Drops: Amar’e Stoudemire Signs With the New York Knicks LeBron James and the ESPN Broadcast of Free Agent Indifference […]

  13. Mizzo says:

    Thanks for the video Alex. I added it to today’s free agency signings.

  14. Miranda says:

    I can’t remember the names but I was flipping the channel and stopped on First Take (I think) and of course the subject was on LeBron.

    Well the female host was asking this guy about the announcement and he goes on and on about how it sickens him and whatnot and how its ridiculous..and then out of nowhere, she says “well just like Brett Favre”…ROFLMAO….for about 2 good seconds you could have heard a pin drop because he was totally thrown…then he had to say “well him too!”


  15. […] willing to play without Bosh. I think his most likely destination is to play in Cleveland. And, unlike Michael Tillery of The Starting Five, I think LeBron will sign a full 6 year max deal and not play the FA game again. A trade is […]

  16. sankofa says:

    All I am saying about this FREE agency thing is that Curt Flood is an unsung hero.

    And for all the $40 plus million slaves and the money people with the plantation mentality (all those hating on the big 3)

    “So as sure as the sun will shine I’m gonna get my share now of what’s mine”

    “But I’d rather be a free man in my grave, than living as a puppet or a slave”

  17. dsank43 says:

    Great Article. The funny thing about this whole situation is if Lebron was a top high school basketball recruit it would be okay for multi-million corporations (Colleges and Universities) to come and recruit him. Maybe the reason is because he would be a 18 yr old kid just wanting to play ball and thinking short term. However, when he’s a 25 yr old man planning and preparing for his long term future and family, its a problem. I wonder why?? Hypocrtical journalists write articles ctiticizing him , only wishing they were being courted for their services like Lebron. Lebrons a great basketball player and businessman, whats wrong with being both. Oh yea, never read any articles about Farve letting ESPN camp outside on his grass for the 3 yrs, why hes plays the retirement card.

  18. GrandNubian says:

    Great piece mizz……

    I’m hearing (as i’m sure you are, too) some of Lebron’s “source” brothers say that he will sign with the Heat.

    Ray Allen just re-upped with the Celtics. Jermaine O’Neal is also a strong candidate to sign with Boston. That would be a good move because Kendrick Perkins won’t be available to start the season. If Rasheed comes back, the Celtics will have perhaps the biggest frontcourt i’ve seen in some time (KG, Perk, O’Neal, Big Baby, Sheed). Damn, that’s a lot of size.

  19. Mizzo says:

    Thanks family.

    I still think Alicia will be singing with Hov tonight.

    Too much to turn down and playing with Flash would distort his legacy…unfortunately.

  20. TC says:

    Great piece Mizz. I didn’t heard all the stuff, but I can imagine what the talking heads and sports talk hate jocks were saying. Envy.

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