ESPN is the zenith of love/hate for me. I love anything that dedicates itself to sports 24/7. I hate anything that tries to choke me to death on Brett Favre coverage. And this recent Lebron James free agency fiasco has brought the media to new heights of non-stop player worship.
Still, I couldn't help but keep digging. After all, for all its saturation, the Lebron James story was a fascinating one. This wasn't just about what team a superstar was going to play for. This was a story with a strong human element. Does a man stay home with everyone he knows in a city he was born near continuing to make good money while building a lifelong presence in his hometown? Or does he go to big city and leave everyone behind for good? There was an intriguing tale behind it all.
When I watched Lebron make the jump to Miami on his silly Decision show, I felt like I was watching Green Day unveil American Idiot. Suddenly, everything I knew about this popular entity was turned upside down. Awards and adulation trumped loyalty to a brand. Green Day won Grammy's and Lebron will probably eventually win titles. But at what cost? Lebron will never be that galloping giant who carried his teammates, high fived everyone and played every second ably carrying his hometown on his shoulders with the hope of someday bringing Cleveland to the promised land and becoming a legend.
Now, he's an athlete gone Hollywood, playing in the shadows of a guy drafted 3 spots lower than him in 2003 and nothing in basketball will ever be the same. A subtle choice we've all made before (home vs. prosperity) played out on a giant stage for millions to watch and scrutinize. With that in mind, I snuck into Pat Reilly's office and eavesdrop on a meeting Reilly had with his new trio of prized free agents shortly after they verbally agreed to join the Heat. Read on for the full transcript.
Reilly: Hey guys we need to get our fans pumped up for you and the 24-hour inundation of analysis on your every move for the last month isn't enough to get their blood pumping. So to celebrate my brilliant feat in conning you all to take less money so I can come back and get another ring or two as a coach, I wanna put you on a stage!
Bosh: Yay! Stages! Then more people can see me for the first time!
Reilly: Busting the Bosh cherry! It'll be like seeing a dragon for the first time. I love it!
Lebron: Is the stage on the beach? I wanna be on the beach!
Wade: Can I wear that dope white hat that I wear in all my T-Mobile commercials?
Reilly: No. You'll all be wearing your new Heat jerseys. You realize how high jersey sales are gonna skyrocket after this event?
Bosh: I'll bet I sell a million jerseys now!
Reilly: Uh, probably not Chris. In fact, to make room for Wade and Bron jerseys, we're delaying making your jersey until the season starts and people actually see what you look like on the court. I think we're all just kinda assuming you're a top 3 power forward in the league without any real evidence that you can dominate.
Wade: I can't wait to sip coconut rum out of that sexy Cuban's ass after the show.
Lebron: Word to that, Big Bro!
Reilly: Right....anyways, back to the gala. We'll invite yuppy Dolphins fans to come out to the arena. We'll play dance music, get a little laser show, some smoke, and then you guys come out.
Wade: What do we do?
Reilly: Whatever you want. You're Dwyane Wade. You literally own this town now thanks to your brilliant free agent lobbying.
Lebron: Can I dance?
Reilly: Of course you can dance. It's Miami! Dancing is mandatory.
Bosh: Can I dance!?
Reilly: Eh...only if you cut that Predator hair-do...
Reilly: As if you had a choice. So look just show up, we'll bring the lasers and the Heat. Get it? Bring the Heat! Oh fellas, this is gonna be the second-best six years of my life.
Wade: Bring the Heeeaaat!
Lebron: I don't get it...
Reilly: Just smile and let your chin strap do the work, Bron Bron. Save it up for game day.
Lebron: I got this real sweet dance move I perfected in my head during Game 6 against Boston. I'm gonna bust it out tomorrow. Drink all dayyy, play all niiiight, let's get it poppin'. I'm in Miami trick! I've been jammin that beat since July 1st!
Reilly: You mean, when you woke up July 8th *wink wink*
Lebron: Why are you winking at me? Where's my entourage!? Do they get to come up on stage, too?
Wade: Bros before hos, bro.
Lebron: But my entourage ARE my bros, Big Bro!
Reilly: No bros on stage. Sorry Bron.
Lebron: That's bunk, man. I want it put in my contract that next time you have a Heat Party, I get to bring my boys with me.
Reilly: We'll consider it. But for this one, it's just gonna be you three wearing your new jerseys. High five the fans, maybe even make eye contact with one or two if you feel like it. Oh and make sure you randomly cross your arms and do the tough guy head nod at least five times each. That's crucial.
Bosh: I'm gonna make eye contact with everyone!
Wade: Nah man, we don't wanna freak 'em out.
Reilly: Yeah, Chris. Why don't you just kinda point at spots in the crowd and give these guys some room? Then once you've postured a bit, we're gonna put you guys in stools and have someone interview the three of you.
Lebron: I wanna sit in the middle!
Reilly: Eh, we're gonna put Dwyane in the middle. That's what Big Bros are for. Just think: Wade's House joins Lebron's Kingdom. The fans will go apeshit!
Bosh: What about Bosh's Broom Closet!?!?!
Wade: Bosh's Basement.
Lebron: Bosh's Bash...in Miami trick!
Reilly: Ahh, yeah. Forgot about that...um, basement's not bad, but let's get a little more creative. Say, Bosh's Pit?
Bosh: The Bosh Pit! I'm in, coach!
Reilly: You mean, general manager *wink wink*.
Lebron: Now you're winking at him! And you said you were gonna be coa--
Reilly: Not now, Bron! Please, fellas. Work with me. So we introduce you, do your dance thing. Do like five minutes of interviews, then you go back to the beach. Do I dare even ask if there are any questions?
Lebron: Yeah I got one. What's your policy on spitoons on the bench?
Lebron: Mike Brown always gave me a spitoon for my chewed up nails when I got nervous in the playoffs. You gonna give me a spitoon?
Reilly: A spitoon clause. No problem. Any other questions?
Bosh: Yeah I got one.
Reilly: No more questions? Great! Fellas, it's great to have you here. Now get out there and make Papa Reilly proud.
Wade: Oh, coach, one more thing. Did we get that cabana reserved for Saturday the 21st? Me and Bron wanna see how many Miami ladies can fit in that pool at once. Bron's sayin 200. I'm sayin 250.
Bosh: Can I come!?
Wade: Ahh, we'll call you. So, Pat did we get the cabana?
(Reilly stands and smiles with an outstretched hand.)
Reilly: Yes. We. Did.