LeBron decides and the NBA wins

By Tom Donelson, BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 10, 2010

IOWA CITY (BASN) — I am a NBA junkie, in particular a Boston Celtics junkie, and the entire LeBron James episode was a brilliant public relations coup for the NBA and ESPN.

As a follow up to an exciting seven-game Finals series decided in the last minutes, the NBA’s 2010 gold rush drew much attention. For the past two seasons, it was about LeBron James and where he was going.

ESPN had the perfect ticket as interest swelled among fans, in particular among those franchises in the most serious problems. The New York Knicks essentially blew up the past two years with the idea of getting LeBron James.

For many NBA teams, there were little incentives to improve if they knew that one of the best free agents classes was coming.

Usually July sees baseball dominant and NBA forgotten until the fall. But for the past week, Lebron James conquered all the news cycles, even the regular news cycle.

The ESPN one-hour special put the focus on LeBron James and David Stern had to be smiling with all the nation’s eyes on the NBA and it wasn’t even the NBA playoffs.

This week followed one of the most-watched NBA Finals featuring two of league’s premier franchises, the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers.

While much of the coverage and teeth gnashing centered on the narcissism of James but the big story was how LeBron went from being the star of the free agents to the tail being wagged by the dog.

James began the free agency in control of his own destiny but found that in the end, losing control of his destiny. For LeBron, the goal was to put together a winning All-Star team to compete with the Kobe-led Lakers and the Eastern Conference champion Celtics.

In the end, it was Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh who set the table for LeBron.

James wanted to be part of a super trio of Wade and Bosh, but for Wade, the options were limited.

It was either Miami or Chicago, where his children lived. Bosh had the most flexible, but he was escaping Toronto and somehow, Cleveland was not high on his lists.

Having spent the past few years in the cold climate of Canada with its high taxes, Ohio with its high taxes or New York with its high taxes or Chicago with its high taxes looked less appealing.

The sunshine of Miami proved to be second biggest incentive following playing Dwayne Wade. (Lest I forget, Florida has no state income tax so Bosh can afford to make less than the max and still come out ahead!) Bosh made Miami a contender for the Eastern conference but one piece was left missing — James.

LeBron found himself looking at the same team that won 60 plus games, but came up short in the playoffs for the second season in the roll as the Cavaliers failed to make the NBA final.

King James now had a choice. If he wanted to be part of the super trio, he had to go to Miami. Stay in Cleveland simply meant he was working with a team that may not have the talent to go all the way and other teams looked to strengthen themselves.

Boston re-signed two of their the “Big Three” (Ray Allen and Paul Pierce) with new contracts that allowed them salary caps to sign Jermaine O’Neal. He still has enough talent left to mesh with the big three and Rajon Rondo.

Plus with Kendrick Perkins on the sideline until February, O’Neal may be starting for the Celtics. And with Rasheed Wallace’s pending retirement, Boston may have more salary space to find yet another player to deepen their bench.

The Lakers should pick up enough pieces to go for their three-peat.

The NBA has found over the past three years that ratings go up when the Celtics, Lakers and any team that LeBron James is on competing for the title. Their perfect dream for next year will be a Celtics-Heat Eastern Conference final with the Lakers waiting in the Finals for the winner.

James found himself not in the driver’s seat over the final 24 hours of his free agency but the NBA won when they found their talented teams stayed talented and LeBron teaming up with Wade and Bosh.

The NBA stole the limelight and now has an exciting season lined up.

It is enough to have fans salivating for the season to begin now.