If you’re a sports fan, you are under obligation to enjoy the LeBron James saga. Larger and more tedious than Brett Favre’s annual flip-flopping. More pervasive than Tiger Woods’ fall from grace. Now, an announcement special even more anticipated than the Tiger press conference.
If you tell me you’re not the least bit interested in where James signs, you either don’t like the NBA or you’re lying. And if you don’t like the NBA, why on Earth are you reading this post?
In the Tweets, the ticker updates and the endless speculative columns, you have to get a sense that you’re watching history unfold. In this case, it’s the NBA’s history.
More importantly, it's future.
In the midst of this maelstrom of information, a sobering fact: We know nothing.
While this is a universal truth in life, that there is more value in acknowledging our limits than in exceeding them (and subsequently getting out of our comfort zone), it’s virtually unbelievable in the 24-hour news cycle of the year 2010. Yet it is undeniably the case.
We have journalists ridiculing other journalists for representing speculation as fact. As if sources (verified or not) are ever anything more than a publicist’s word away from storytellers. Insiders and outsiders alike are essentially walking blind.
Interestingly enough, very few journalists are claiming to have anything more than an opinion. When we hear anything more than an opinion, we question the information.
Think about the last time you heard sources were reporting something and you were that quick to call B.S. on it. The only thing I can think of that matches it is when we hear that a popular athlete (like Lawrence Taylor) is being accused of committing a crime.
The level of media control we are seeing in NBA free agency is on a level that should make us believe in conspiracy theories.
This kind of control is essentially equivalent to that which Tiger Woods used to have (and to an extent, still does).
The President of the United States of America can’t hide something like Watergate or a sex scandal, but we know virtually nothing about our stars’ personalities or behavior off the court unless it becomes a legal matter. It’s unnerving.
To a small degree, we are learning tidbits of information about the athletes involved in free agency.
Chris Bosh can’t stay off of Twitter throughout this process. Yet he has offered absolutely not a nugget of information on his feed. His media presence and access is being carefully controlled.
Dwyane Wade is having a documentary crew follow him throughout the courtship process. While a few rumors have arisen regarding his interest in other teams, Wade has been the no-brainer of the whole free agency drama. Anything linking him to a team other than the Miami Heat has seemed more contrived than a Hollywood summer offering.
And then we come to James. The self-appointed King.
We will hear a lot of criticism for James over the coming days. That he, like Favre, embraces the drama of it all. That he craves attention more than your average toddler. And especially that he is shameless in his marketing.
It does appear a certain way when someone starts a Twitter account in the biggest week of his off season career and signs on for a one-hour ESPN special.
It’s a bit ridiculous to blame it all on LeBron’s gargantuan ego.
The same ego is a creation of the media’s promotion of James when he was still a kid. It’s a byproduct of the consumers (yes, us) buying into the hype.
Even the most vehement Michael Jordan critics can agree that the NBA as a league felt different without him.
Kobe Bryant was beginning to emerge as the heir apparent.
Then there were whispers of a high school talent so great he’d make us forget about 'His Airness.'
From a jaw-dropping, physical talent standpoint, James has delivered. He evokes memories of Jordan or Barry Sanders with his highlight-reel plays in almost every game.
From a championship standpoint? Well, that story has yet to be written.
Before you blame ESPN for completely over hyping Thursday’s announcement, LeBron coordinating with them to do so and Wade and/or Bosh for trying to squeeze their way into the conversation, take a step back.
You know you’re going to be just as curious as the rest of us when it airs.
We created this.
As a reminder: So did the same media who, over the coming days, will condemn LeBron for acting out on the ego we all fed.
And you know you're just as excited for the conclusion, the NBA ramifications and the championship picture as I am.
After all, you read this far, didn’t you?