Go ahead and admit it… you watched. Oh sure, you’ll say it was simply for the spectacle or the circus and that you really didn’t care one way or the other, but that’s bunk.
You watched and you know why you did.
Look, I’m into the show as much as the next guy. I like the insanity and hyperbole that rides along in a sidecar with media hype. The bigger, the better. In fact, if something is prefaced with “World” or “Super” in the title, sign me up.
Yes, more Super World Spectacular Circuses, please.
Now this doesn’t mean I think these are quality events. This is strictly about the hype and the over-the-top matter in which we often treat the mundane. I’m no sociologist or media critic, but the manner in which we produce and consume certain events has to explain something about our culture.
Yeah, deep statement, I know. But can you think of an earnestly produced “news” event that was filled with more hilarity than the LeBron James thing over the past few days? Frankly, it had it all. There was manufactured drama, fake emotion and overwrought victors and vanquished. Plus, there was Jim Gray, whose un-ironic seriousness for unimportant events is more amazing than anything conjured on “Dynasty” or the crew from the mockumentaries, “Best in Show” or “This is Spinal Tap.”
Choosing Gray over a character created by Christopher Guest or Harry Shearer for his hour-long ESPN drama, “decision,” was a masterstroke.
So too was the rant of an open letter posted by scorned Cleveland owner, Dan Gilbert, whose other claim to fame is that he is the owner of the company that makes the oversized posters called, “Fathead.” The company’s spokesman was alleged serial sexual harasser, Ben Roethlisberger. In addition to being the owner of the Cavaliers, a team that paid LeBron more than $62 million during the past seven years, Gilbert also owns the companies that created TurboTax and 1-800-Contacts.
In other words, Gilbert knows all doing big things cheaply and quickly. However, it is disappointing that he chose to address his pain over LeBron’s spurning of Cleveland with a letter posted on the Internet as opposed to a soliloquy with Mean Gene Okerlund at his side.
But yes, I watched the LeBron infomercial. That is to say I dialed it up on the Internet and viewed it while taking the Amtrak train home from 30th Street Station, with one ear eavesdropping on the conversations of my fellow travelers gripping their mobile devices and announcing the play-by-play as it occurred. Call it a live blog/tweet come to life all while using public transport.
That’s so much community and carbon offsetting in one cramped, tin can it makes me want to pile into a rubber raft and attack oil tankers… or at least find a recycling can for my water bottle. Amtrak, a government agency, does not have recycling aboard their trains. Yes, that’s the true shame of the LeBron-athon.
But that’s about as deep as it got for most folks in regard to the LeBron circus. People allowed themselves to get sucked in to take hard line stances on a particular side. The anger and indignation directed at inanimate objects like ESPN, Cleveland, Miami and LeBron James was not only so thick and rich that it could drizzled over waffles, but also was amazingly comical.
What we were able to deduce from the entire extravaganza is that the virtue sports fans most value from their athletes is loyalty…
Excuse me while I drop to one knee in order to catch my breath from laughing myself silly.
Another funny moment that came out of LeBron’s TV show happened the other day while Wilmington News Journal artiste, Martin Frank, and I were talking about it, when Phils’ skipper Charlie Manuel overheard us. For those who don’t know, Big Chuck was a pretty good basketball player in his day and had several scholarship offers to play collegiately, including one from Penn. Charlie is also a professed fan of the game and once admitted he “kept up” with the career of fellow Virginian and NBA star, Ralph Sampson.
Anyway, Charlie heard us talking and turned around with a question, “What do you guys think of it?”
Not feeling up to getting way too deep into it, we settled on Martin’s summary that “it was weird.” Which, to put it mildly, it was. The whole thing was weird. But Charlie spent a lot of years in Cleveland coaching and managing the Indians and might have more insight into the psyche of its citizenship than either of us. Still, when asked for his thoughts, Charlie just kind of shrugged. When it was pointed out that LeBron had “taken less money to go to Miami,” the ol’ manager had the best analysis of anyone in any type of media could have dreamed.
“Woooooooo,” Charlie said in mock, sarcastic awe.
If there is any way to describe the minute difference between an athlete drawing a $20 million salary or a lesser, $15 million one, Charlie did it with one syllable.
Exactly. Woooooooo, indeed.