LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron.
In the history of American sports, there has never been a spectacle quite like the mania surrounding the impending NBA free agency of LeBron James.
For those who have spent the past year traveling in the Andromeda galaxy, the Cleveland Cavaliers star officially becomes available to all bidders Thursday.
It is amazing how long the tentacles of the quest to attract the 25-year-old basketball superstar have reached.
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College basketball has seen not one (John Calipari), but two (Tom Izzo) of its most visible coaches prominently featured in the wooing-of-LeBron speculation.
The 2010 NBA draft turned out to be an afterthought to the pursuit of LeBron. Two teams, the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat, dumped first round picks for basically nothing in order to maintain maximum financial flexibility in order to vie for LeBron.
Quality NBA veterans Kirk Hinrich (Bulls) and Jamal Crawford (Knicks) have been traded in recent years to create salary cap space to chase LeBron. So have promising young players Jordan Hill (Knicks) and Daequan Cook (Heat).
Even the President of the United States, Barack Obama, has put in a pitch for James to play for the Commander-in-Chief's hometown Chicago Bulls.
It's good to be the King.
Whether LeBron-palooza is good for basketball or even American sports is open to debate.
The oldest axiom in team sports is that no one is bigger than the game they play. During the summer of LeBron, can anyone really maintain that with a straight face?
Historically, professional sports' biggest advantage over big-time college athletics is that in the pros the deal-making is out in the open, not done on a secretive black market as in college.
The pursuit of LeBron has brought whispers of all kinds of back-room moves that flout David Stern's tampering regulations as blatantly as any overzealous college booster has ever done to the NCAA rulebook.
Still, King James-mania sure is a heck of a show.
The teams in financial position to sign LeBron include the Knicks, Nets, Heat, Bulls and Clippers. Because of NBA rules, the most money is available to him if he resigns with his old team, Cleveland.
So will LeBron make a "basketball decision," looking solely for the spot most likely to yield the elusive NBA championship(s) he has yet to win in Cleveland?
Is LeBron looking primarily to use this career move for marketing purposes, most interested in aligning with the team owner who can further James' stated goal of becoming an iconic global brand?
The New York Times quoted an anonymous NBA executive on Sunday saying that LeBron and Toronto Raptors forward Chris Bosh are believed to be a free-agency "done deal" to go to the Chicago Bulls.
It has been widely reported that Worldwide Wes, the basketball power broker William Wesley, is advocating for LeBron to play in the Second City.
In Miami, Pat Riley and Co. have cleared enough cap space that it is thought the Heat have room to re-sign Dwyane Wade and also add LeBron and Bosh there.
If this is a global marketing move, the New Jersey Nets may have the ace in their new majority owner, Russian billionaire playboy Mikhail Prokhorov.
If LeBron chooses the Knicks, he could be King of Broadway.
Should he pick the Los Angeles Clippers, LeBron would, well, be crazy (poor Eric Bledsoe) unless Donald Sterling sells the team.
Or LeBron James, son of Akron, could stay in northeast Ohio and re-up with the Cavs.
Poor Cleveland. A city that hasn't won a major pro sports championship since Blanton Collier coached the Browns to an NFL title way back in 1964.
Losing LeBron would be a cruel blow to the city with, arguably, the largest sports inferiority complex in America.
I fear Cleveland is going to lose out on this one, too.
Whatever the King does, a LeBron-fatigued nation hopes he will do it quickly.
Until then, the sound track of American sports right now remains:
LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron. LeBron..