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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

LeDecision and LeFallout...



Well, my friends, the decision is in. And now that I've had a week to digest and dissect the clubhouse leader for "Decision of the Century", I'm finally ready to unveil my oh so anticipated analysis upon the masses...

Over the past several years, I've made it a point to go against the now standard one hour media cycle and actually try and think about major events like this before I offer my full opinion, at least in print. For the King's announcement, I made no exception. Now after a solid few days of thought, I feel I finally got my mind wrapped around this one. I've looked at it from all angles, sought all sorts of opinions, compared it to similar events in history and now, I've properly condensed all that information into a succinct little blog post. And better yet, I've got it even more narrowly compiled into a little something that I like to call a thesis statement. Yes, my friends, a thesis statement...

Lebron James free agent signing, with the Miami Heat in July 2010, forever changed the way business was done in the NBA.

And to keep with the succinctness. Here are the 3 main reasons why:

1) Taking less than market value on the eve of a negotiations for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, James and his wingmen have damaged the Player's Union and the ability of it's member's to get fair market deals. If the other side can always answer with "Well not even LeBron makes the maximum...", well, that's just not exactly a position of strength when it comes to negotiations...

2) The collusion-like interaction between the 3 premier free agents essentially exposed a loophole in the "free agent" system that, if invoked by other elite players (paging Carmelo Anthony), could lead to a lopsided dispersal of talent. Granted that could lead to a field of fewer but better teams, something I've always said was necessary to restore at least my interest, but in the short term it's more likely to decimate more than a few of the league's less than profitable franchises. And let's be clear, it's not technically collusion because they were all free agents, but believe me when I say their perceived manipulation of the system will not go unnoticed...

AND


3) "The Decision" itself, and the special programming and hype surrounding it, have introduced a form of self promotion that will no doubt be replicated by athletes across all sports in years to come. And unfortunately, probably by all the wrong people (I'm lookin' at you, Darrelle Revis, and not just because you're in a photo with a bunch of my buddies in Las Vegas this past weekend). The 7.3 Nielsen rating ESPN received for the show is only going to go further towards encouraging other athletes to do the exact same thing when their turn at free agency rolls around. No matter what David Stern may have said...


So there it is, kids. That's why I think the LeBron James signing will forever change the way business is done in the NBA. Now, it's on to how I actually feel about it. That was all show "business", and now it's time to deal with the show "friends" aspect of this whole dilemma. AKA. How poorly Lebron handled this...

Of all the parties involved in "The Decision", the only one I really see coming out smelling like the proverbial rose here is the Miami Heat and their fiscal benefactors. They actually get to reap the financial benefits from having the newest "Big 3". Other than that, I really don't see another winner here...

Wade? Bosh? OK, they don't look all that bad in all of this, but they're hands aren't exactly clean in all this. But Lebron? The Cavs? The Player's Union? They all took serious hits here, ones from which I find it hard to believe any of them will be able to recover...


First and foremost, there's Lebron himself. His image. Not since (and not really before, either) Alex Rodriguez, has a player gone from universally revered to 50/50 LOVE/HATE in this sort of instantaneous, overnight fashion. The way he handled the whole process, right up to and including him not calling the Cavs before announcing his decision, justifiably has cast him in a dark light in the eyes of many fans of those very teams that were courting him. Oh, and if you didn't notice, those teams that he spurned (NY, NJ, CHI, LAC, CLE) happen to dominate just a few of the bigger markets the NBA has to offer. Yeah, so it's safe to say there are going to be a few additional hostile environments these 3 can add to their slate over the next few years...

I mean, I get what he was doing with the move, and I can even sort of respect his willingness to take less money to increase his chances of winning, but to handle it the way he did just doesn't make any sense to me. IF he's taking less money for a chance to win rings and thereby strengthen his brand, fine. Go for it. But at least have the decency and respect to inform the teams you've been dealing with of your decision a few minutes before you tell the rest of America...

I mean, did he really not think that was gonna rub people the wrong way?! And I don't wanna hear how it would have leaked and ruined the freakin' TV special, either! That's why you don't have a freakin' TV special, you Teddius Maximus! That's how the system works, dammit! All stories like this get leaked! Why? Because there's always some media whore or entourage member with a secret they can't keep and a bill they can't pay. That's why. Then everyone plays the confirm/deny game for a little while, and then, after a little more fanfare, there's an official announcement. That's how it works, man. That's business, right there. He tells the Cavs thanks, but no thanks, and while sure it might still get leaked, at least there isn't as deep a sense of betrayal. I mean who knows after seeing what Cavs Owner, Dan Gilbert, wrote. But had Lebron acted that way it only would have gone to making Gilbert's remarks look all the more out of line. It's like, there's a right and wrong way to dump a significant other, and the way Lebron treated his suitors was far from what Emily Post would have suggested. Essentially, he dumped the Cavs on FaceBook. And since they've yet to answer the call for the "Dislike button", Gilbert had to take to the newspapers. Not that anyone can blame him for his reaction, even if only half of his allegations are true, just should have known better than to put it on blast. But hey, another millionaire that probably got that way by shooting his mouth off, speaking his mind and going against the norm. So what the Hell do I know?...

And while many of you will say that winning will save his image, and I'm sure you're right, we're going to have to let him finishing tarnishing it first before he can ever start to rebuild it. It's all but fully out there now that LBJ had made a decision before Bosh signed with the Heat days earlier, but James himself said he was swayed by advice from his mother the morning of his announcement. Hmmmm. Maybe that's why he didn't sound like his usual cool and collected self. Maybe he was trying to slip us a fib. Maybe he thought that would be enough to prevent the burning of any bridges. "Oh, I would have told you, but I just decided while I was drinkin' from that bubbler in the Boys & Girls Club". Right. But hey, he is only 25. Maybe he thought it would work. I know there were a lot of things I thought would work at 25 that didn't. Tedslist.com, for instance. Yeah, I had a waayy better idea for that URL, I'll tell you what...

Which leads me to my conclusion. Those same English teachers that were lauding my for my use of the thesis are now condemning me for "announcing" my conclusion, but I digress...

What I take from Lebron James signing from the Heat is this. It was a potentially very shrewd and ballsy business decision, handled in a very unprofessional and immature manner. Simple as that. Did he and his cohorts manipulate the system? Sure. But it was there to be taken advantage of, and it's their right to do so. Will it work out in the long run? Well in terms of the Heat and his legacy, I would guess NO. Anything short of 2 titles in the 6 year window will be considered a failure, and seeing as I still view the Lakers as the best team in the NBA, and I figure at least 1-2 other Super Teams will be created in that time span to challenge them, I don't really see them bringing home more than 2. As for the NBA? Will everything work out for them? Well as I said before, I think this day will go down in history as the day the first domino fell in changing the way business is done in the NBA. As usual, it will be up to the fans to determine whether that change is for the better or for the worse...

We've dealt with "The Decision", now all that's left to do is sit and await "The Fallout"...

And there you have it, kids. A new RoochNation nickname is born. From hence forth, Lebron James will no longer be known as "LBJ" or "The King". From this day on, he'll be known simply as "Fallout Boy". And not after the gay band, either...


"George Burns was right: Show biz is a horrible bitch goddess." - Bart Simpson

And we just WITNESSED show biz, for all the good and bad it has to offer...

Now, with the newly ordained Fallout Boy in our rearview for the time being, let's take a little peek at the Sox as they hit the halfway mark, along with a few other potent potables to round out the week...


(photo courtesy of BostonDirtDogs)

Red Sox Update
Overall:
51-37, 3rd place 5 games back of NYY in AL East

There are two things that have really surprised me about the Sox through the nominal first half of the season. Nominal, as NYY's radio man, John Sterling, would point out, because while it may be the All Star Break, we've already played past the 81 game mark in the season. But that's just symantics. If I were to stay here all day writing about how John Sterling views the world, well let's just say I'd probably end up 3/4 of the way through a good bottle and 9/10 of the way through all of your patience...

So the two things that have really surprised me about the Sox first half have been the lack of of people watching the games, and the lack of people I can name actually playing in the games. It's a freakin' MASH unit, out there. I've even gone to the lengths of creating a drinking game out of it. If you can't name the guy at the plate before they tell you, then you have to drink. Pretty ingenius, huh? You'll be wrecked by the time they get to Gustavo Molina! Who?! Exactly!..

But fun drinking games and impressive play by no-namers aside, 5 games back at the break is still 5 games back at the break. I'll admit it's been an enjoyable 1st half based on pure entertainment value, but 5 games out in the East, 3 out of the Wild Card, and a laundry list of injuries, isn't exactly a stellar resume when you're more than halfway home. It doesn't mean it's time to pack it in, by any means, it just means that it's pretty obvious that another half like this one just isn't going to get the job done...

If players can come back healthy, that should be enough to carry them into the Wild Card, but I still think they're going to need to add another bat to give them any real chance at making noise in the playoffs. Let's just put it this way. If the Yankees were thinking of adding Cliff Lee and they're 5 games up, then any team 5 games back is going to have to keep their eye toward improving their roster as well if they want to compete. It's just common sense...

So despite the seemingly uphill battle the Sox face in the 2nd half of the season, I'm still upbeat and optimistic. Should this current band of misfits actually hold it together and get the Sox to the playoffs, that would be a story for the ages. But as entertaining as that would be to watch, I'd still rather they do it the traditional way, with their stars making the plays in the biggest and most important moments...

Props to Papi for winning the Home Run Derby last night, and here's to hopin' he doesn't now go through the traditional 2nd half dive most champions tend to take. Oddly enough, I have a feeling it's not going to effect him...

News + Notes

As I was typing this post the news came down of the passing of New York Yankee's legendary owner, George Steinbrenner. The man was a character, a pioneer, an amazing business man, and the perfect villain for an entire generation of Red Sox fans. RIP Big Stein. It's the end of an era, and you will be forever missed. Baseball, and it's fans all over the world, owe you a great debt of gratitude...you crazy, calzone lovin' bastard...


On a less somber note, Mad Men Season 4 finally gets underway later this month, with the premeir slated for Sunday night, July 25th, @ 10 o'clock. So you can stop watching that predictably craptacular abortion of a show known to the masses as Entourage, and head over to what is hands down the best drama to hit to small screen since a gang of Northern Jersey Italians used to frequent the Bada Bing. They're airing all the previous seasons right now on AMC, so you still have time to catch up if you'd like. Me? I'll be using that spare time to polish my sterling silver cigarette case and iron my debonair suits. After all, I'm the Don Draper of this bitch. And you best be rememberin'...


Also on the entertainment front, I've actually pegged my chances at 30% that I go see the new Leonardo Dicaprio movie, Inception, at the movie theater. Which is a damn high %, I might add, seeing as the last time I saw a movie in the theater was American Gangster (2007) and before that it was The Departed (2006). Matter of fact, to get me any higher than 30% would probably take Leo, Denzel and the Coen Brothers, doing a movie about the Red Sox (a jheri curled Denzel as Pedro, pelase?), so to say that Inception is right at that threshold should tell you how good I think it looks...

Hey, could just be a great trailer and a great cast, but the HBO behind the scenes special says otherwise, so hopefully I'll be giving it a look. Maybe even in IMAX. Oooooooo. Hey, might as well go all out in my 3rd movie in 5 years, right?..


And there we have it, friends. Another edition of the Nation come and gone like so many soccer fans over the last week, yet without the annoying hum of their wanton sex horns. I hope you can find a little All Star Break in your life this week, and I hope that should I ever leave Attleboro, that you don't burn my high school basketball jerseys on my way out the door...

Have a great week, peeps! Roll on, Summer. Roll on...


Teddy Williams...
Kaiser Soze...
Rollo Tomasi...
Enrico Palazzo...
100..

I'm out!

#$>

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