Sports

LeBronathon: Television's finest hour

Let's be honest.

Sometimes, the sports world doesn't provide much in the way of fodder for us to lampoon in these allegedly-humorous Run 'n' Gun columns.

Then, there are weeks like this.

When LeBron James announced he was joining Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami via the TV special "The Decision — a LeBron James, Inc. production," well, what can I say?

I consider myself lucky to be able to share some thoughts.

As I've always said, if you're going to hijack a network for a pompous, self-aggrandizing, narcissistic, hour-long lovefest you should coat it with a veneer of charitable giving.

Actually, for all the outcry of how awful this was going to be, and how this was a sign of the apocalypse, I was left with one distinct feeling Thursday night after James announced he would be playing for "South Beach" and the Heat, in that order:

Boy, that could've been a lot worse.

Maybe the needle on my cynicism meter already points to "FULL" because of previous prima donna behavior by star athletes, but I thought "Decision 2010" was a decent way to end this ordeal.

Free agency only officially began on July 1 and a week later — the first day he was eligible to sign with a team — LeBron announced his destination.

I've also watched a lot of non-events turned into bloated TV specials: hello, NCAA selection show, league drafts and the ESPYs.

If only we hadn't had all of that buildup, this would've been tolerable. And really, who is to blame for that? Probably us.

NBA fans, media members and even players have been speculating about LeBron's future for at least two years.

You may say you're tired of it, but if you watch the NBA at all, this announcement changed the landscape for years to come, just as when Kareem Abdul-Jabbar requested a trade from Milwaukee, Michael Jordan retired (all three times) or the Celtics managed to turn Joe Barry Carroll and some magic beans into Kevin McHale and Robert Parish.

As an unbiased observer, I thought LeBron was likely to get hammered for whatever basketball decision he made. If he left, he sold out Cleveland and he's disloyal. If he stayed he would've been afraid to put his ego in check and take a lesser role to another team's superstar.

Was there a better way to release the information from "The Decision?" Probably, but what network is going to turn down an exclusive interview? Especially one that generated higher ratings than some of the actual games he played in?

What really would've been the difference if he announced via a press conference? It still would've been a circus and a spectacle.

Plus, then we would've missed master interviewer Jim Gray ask the tough questions, like "Are you still a nailbiter?"

For me there were three clear highlights of "LeBron's Choice, brought to you by Vitamin Water."

The first was at about 8:20 p.m. when ESPN went to commercial and its scroll read: "Breaking News — LeBron James is in the chair to announce decision."

Really? I think at that particular moment, no more anticipatory hype was necessary.

The second came after LeBron announced, and ESPN went to the ubiquitous bar crowd shots in various cities.

ESPN's Stuart Scott, upon seeing happy Miami fans jumping around, spotted one excited guy in a LeBron Cavs jersey and said, well there's even a Cleveland fan who's pleased.

Stu — I'm guessing that guy might not actually be from Ohio.

Then we saw the real Cleveland fans, including the bitter folks burning a now-obsolete LeBron Cavs jersey.

The look on LeBron's face at that moment was priceless. Maybe he didn't realize the word fan is short for fanatic. He might have had a rational, logical reason for leaving, but that doesn't mean members of the Dawg Pound, who still have Art Modell dartboards, were going to like it.

Then the real highlight of the evening came in the form of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's open letter to Cleveland fans.

Teenagers who stomped on their ex's letter jackets, burned their mix tapes and cut out their pictures from the yearbook after a breakup have acted with more maturity than Gilbert.

"You simply don't deserve this kind of cowardly betrayal," Gilbert wrote to Cavs fans, before guaranteeing the team would win an NBA title before LeBron did.

Uh, good luck with that.

So what's the end result of "The LeBacle" — as the blogs quickly named it? The sports world has a team everyone outside of south Florida can root against. Was that such a bad thing?

Not in my book.

Now, when is that Brett Favre special airing on the NFL Network?

Run 'n' Gun is The Eagle Sports staff's weekly look at the offbeat side of sports.

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