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The Decision and the Deal

So, where were you when LeBron made the Decision? It certainly was one of those momentous times rarely seen in the human experience. Years from now, people will remember exactly where they were when the NBA’s Bestest Player Ever made his fateful choice, much like they do for other seminal events such as 9/11 or the Kennedy assassination. Or not.

I had no interest in where LeBron James chose to receive millions for playing basketball. The next time I actually watch a game featuring him from start to finish will be the first. I haven’t watched more than snippets of any NBA game in years, much less one featuring the self-absorbed man-child best known for dominating regular-season performances, but who always seems to come up small in the crunch time of the playoffs.

I was, however, transfixed by the spectacle surrounding what used to be the routine shuffling of NBA prima donas from one city to the next. ESPN really out did itself this time, devoting an entire evening’s worth of programming to LeBronapalooza. My favorite moment came during the three-hour LeBronCenter preceding The Decision. Anchor Linda Cohn, wearing an orgasmic facial expression that brought to mind teen-aged girls in close proximity to the Beatles back in the 60’s, announced that ‘All America’ was on the edge of their seats in breathless anticipation of where LeBron would play. Actually, Linda, I was in my recliner in a pose about as far from the edge as could be obtained.

By the time the entire on-air staff of the Entertainment and LeBron Programming Network had weighed in on the ‘twists and turns’ of the ‘Amazing LeBron saga’ I was rapidly losing interest. When Jim Gray began probing career lows by attempting to drag out the proceedings for at least a couple more commercials by interviewing the semi-literate James [in keeping with the general tone of the show, ESPN parent Disney should have had Mickey Mouse hosting], I was wishing for the entire spectacle to be done. After all, ‘CSI: Miami’ was on my DVR and I find the babes that Horatio always has around him a far greater South Beach diversion than anything the Heat might accomplish.

LeBron is not the first person to ever decide to leave Cleveland. The city has long been the poster child for the declining Rust Belt. He is very likely not the first to decide to relocate from Cleveland to the more temperate climate of Miami. Most making the trek, however, do not have entire evenings on ESPN devoted to the decision.

For all of the accolades and praise heaped upon the Great LeBron James, it was occasionally pointed out that the guy has never actually won a championship. Critical times in most any NBA playoff game involving his former team always involve James folding like a lawn chair. His most memorable moments always seemed to have involved him sulking off the court following yet another loss. The little matter of his having failed to actually win anything was generally glossed over, however, in the LeBron-fest to which we were treated.

Exactly when did an ability to generate a media circus and draw attention to one’s self supplant actual winning? We are informed that ESPN’s over-the-top homage to the ‘Best Player Never To Win A Championship’ garnered higher ratings than did the Lakers-Celtics Game 7 [Well, I didn’t watch Kobe win another ring]. I have an instinctive and healthy dislike for any player or coach who runs his mouth and lusts after media attention like Tiger does skanks. When did this become a greater measure of success than the actual winning of championships?

Recently Kentucky coach John Calipari received much media attention with his claim that having 5 Kentucky players chosen in the first round of the NBA draft, 4 of them one-and-done players, constituted the ‘greatest moment’ in the history of the Wildcat program. As those who had played on and watched the multiple championship teams produced by Adolph Rupp, Joe B. Hall and even Tubby begged to differ, it was exceedingly hard amid the hype to notice that the number of NCAA championship teams produced by Calipari currently numbers 0, although he does lead the country in the all-important category of most Final Four appearances vacated.

Getting a bunch of players drafted might assist Calipari in garnering television face time and assist in his convincing other wunderkinds to spend a few weeks in fairly-close proximity to the Kentucky campus before heading off to chase NBA millions and his landing another job when he runs away after the NCAA investigators show up as they always do, but I’ll take winning.

Which brings us to the ACC’s new television deal with ESPN. It is a whopper, almost doubling the current take. It will enable ACC AD’s to pay for quite a bit of stadium bling, further inflate coaching salaries and afford all of those ‘other’ sports about which Boss Hoo Craig ‘Tubby, all it took was algrohing algroh to bring Mike Smith back in line’ Littlepage likes to crow. The cash will be useful.

One does have to ponder, though, exactly what is ESPN paying for? Unlike the deals previously signed by the Total Sports Leader with the SEC and Big Twelve For Now that guarantees those two leagues most of the prime spots on both the mother ship and the Deuce, the ACC’s deal carries no football guarantees other than Labor Day and a handful of Thursday night games.  Unless ESPN has vastly overpaid for a bunch of ACC games on the Net-only ESPN3, it does seem like a ton of money for not a lot of games.

Then, while watching the over-the-top LeBron- fest, it hit me. When was the last time we had witnessed such an incredible and inane amount of hype? That would be last year before the Virginia Tech- Miami football game, when ESPN lost all sense of proportion and dignity in declaring the Canes the Backest Team Ever the week before they were splattered all around the walls of Lane Stadium.

Since, surprisingly enough, ESPN tends to generate the largest amounts of hype for properties it just happens to televise, the network of Goofy were paying for the rights to bring celebrations of Canes’ Backness to entirely new levels for the next dozen years. They certainly couldn’t scream out the Backability of the Canes for a team that would be televised on Fox, now could they?

Prepare for an entire month of August devoted to the Backness of the Canes . There will be LeBronapalooza-styled celebrations of the Canes being Back every night of the week. Even LeBron will be asked to weigh in with his opinion of the Canes being Backer than Back. The Entertainment, LeBron and Canes Network will again Back over the top.

This, of course, is good news for fans of Virginia Tech football. We have noticed over the last 15 years or so that the more ESPN hypes the Canes as being Back, the worse Tech beats them. Tech’s football roll should continue.


  1. Greg — July 12, 2010 #

    Jim!!  You left out the most important point.  Now, the great Right Reverend Racist Jesse Jackson has checked in, adding his always poignant commentary.  In his never-ending world of white hater, Jesse has now compared the Cleveland owner as a slave master and LeBron his slave.  Of all the #^&*% crap!!!  Comparing a multi-million dollar prima donna to a slave is worse than ridiculous.  Where would we be without the Right Reverend Racist Jesse spewing his reverse racism all over the place.  while it is certainly in LeBron’s right as a free agent to go wherever he decides, there are right ways and wrong ways to make the move.  Perhaps first telling his present boss, who has been dolling out the huge paychecks for some time of his intentions would have been a better avenue for LeBron.  Then, off to the ESPN studios for the LeBron orgy that, sadly enough, I completely missed, because, like you, I absoultely couldn’t care less about pro basektball, the NBA or the collection of malconent prima donnas employed by the NBA’s teams.

    Now, onto ESPN and the college season.  You left out another dandy this year.  Right along side of the Canes high degree of backness, will be the wizardy of Butchie.  ESPN sportscasters will be drooling all over their polished desks everytime the name Butchie and UNC are uttered in the same sentence.  We will be treated to predictions extraordinaire of what Butchie and crew will accomplish in the coming season.  The game of games for he year will be UNC with Wizard Butchie facing off against the “Back” Canes and miracle worker Shannon.  VT will be relegated to the trash heap of yesterday.  Which is exactly how I like it, because thene we thrash the extraordinary Tar Holes and whoop the silly asses of the Back Canes, it is so much fun to watch the ESPN sportscasters reversing themselves and explaining just what happened, or didn’t happen, as the case may be.


  2. HokieJayBee — July 12, 2010 #

    Excellent article as usual Jim, I truly enjoy your writing style.

    I actually had a couple friends over to watch the Decision, on what was the 8th day of gifts of Lebronica.  I lied, it was a Thursday night pizza and beer meeting for one of my fantasy football leagues to set our rules and name our keepers for the upcoming season.  And admittedly [shamefully], we watched Jim Gray come in second place with the worst interview of all time – to Jim Gray, for his interview of Pete Rose at the All-Star game a few years ago. 

    We all already knew it was Miami, because of the “leaks” that had already come out.  Ironically enough, those “leaks” were from other LebronSPN analysts, which didn’t make sense for them to allow their employees to give up the secret prior to us watching their special……but there we sat, a sixer of Yuenglueng Lager deep each, transfixed on the Decision – all the while my DirecTV box and its phone line connection piping up viewership numbers to the Nielson Ratings.

    But I digress.  I wrote in today because your satire at the end of your post on the backness of the Canes brought back amazing memories of standing in the rain for 4 hours last year watching the Canes cry up and down Lane Stadium, claiming it was raindrops on their cheeks the whole time.  But it also made me think about something this year.

    I think we’re past our prime as a program to be the “new guy” or the “upstart”.  Granted we didn’t win any crystal shaped football trophies yet, but I think we’ve firmly supplanted ourselves in the “powerhouse” category, or at least in the nationally consistently in the conversation category.  [Insert line here about X straight amount of 10 win seasons, praise coaching continuity]. 

    So, while Miami [remember you can’t plead uncontested to charges without the U] is backer than back.  And as Greg pointed out in comment #1, Butch and company are “back” [if you count his former Hurricane stardom] or are “upstart” if you count the fact that UNC football hasn’t been relevant in, well, a long time.  And of course there’s the team in Atlanta with the new fangled doo-hickey offense [read: old is new].  And, most of all, we open at FedEx with the true LebronSPN cinderella upstart program, Boise State. 

    It made me think a little bit about our football team’s reputation nationally, where the same ACC LebronSPN writer can rate Ryan Williams as the third best player in the ACC but also rank him as a favorite in the Heisman race……

    It just made me think that there’s at least four games on our slate where we’ll be televised, assumedly by LebronSPN, that we won’t be “favored”.  And here, I don’t mean the money line or spread in Vegas, I mean “favored” by THE NETWORK and all its pundits leading up to the game.  And I can see four games this year where the week leading up to the game is eerily similar to that of the week before Miami last year, according to face time and LebronSPN blabber.

    All of which, echoing Greg again, I think is great for our team and our underdog/lunchpail mentality.



  3. BobLee — July 12, 2010 #

    For all of us who say we did not watch or watched sporadically ….. There WERE millions who DID watch, and apparently actually “cared”.
    I was never afraid of Hokie Jim and The Clubhouse Guys; but “LeBron care-abouts” DO frighten me a bit.
    Nostradamus Quatrain #683 predicted this ….. also Revelations 9:24


  4. notahoo — July 12, 2010 #

    Ironic isn’t it that ESPN is owned by Mickey Mouse, Inc., and when it came time to disclose where LeBron would be playing this season, I didn’t give a rat’s a**.


  5. snakeman40 — July 12, 2010 #

    As probably the first one in the group you would think would have been watching LeEgo decide where he would “take his talents”, let me say I never turned on the TV.  I got so sick of LeBitch and his runaway ego way before the announcement.  Yes, I still wanted him back with the Cavs, but by Thurs. p.m., I was also halfway hoping he (oops, sorry….I meant to say ‘He’) would sign elsewhere.  After becoming LeChoke in the playoffs AGAIN, I lost quite a bit of enthusiasm for Jesus Jr.  Reading some Cleveland boards has put a smile on my face, however.  Names flying everywhere like “Queen James”, “LeLiar”, “LeTraitor”, and “Black Modell” (courtesy of Jason Whitlock) are among the most popular.  My favorite, however, had to be “LeHopeHeDiesInAPlaneCrash”.  Did you see where the Cavs owner (who also owns Fatheads) put His fathead on sale (in a Cavs uniform) for $17.41 (down from $99.99) because that was the year Benedict Arnold was born.  Gotta love Gilbert for calling a spade a spade (pun intended).  Don’t ask me about what a complete joke ESPN has become or Jesse Jackass for that matter.  My blood pressure is high enough as it is…..


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