Thank goodness, LeBron has made his decision and the world can get back to important things, like whether the economy will ever recover, what the hell to do in the Gulf of Mexico, and how soon Lady Gaga’s 15 minutes will run out.
I don’t begrudge LeBron milking the process. He’s perhaps the most interesting free agent ever, and his move will affect the futures of more than just the teams he joins and leaves. While I feel a little sorry for Cleveland fans, their anger should be directed at the team’s ownership and management, who screwed up pretty much every chance to improve the team and make LeBron happy over the last four years. Hell, I don’t even have much hate for ESPN. They just did what they do better than anyone: over-promote an event, put their logo all over it, and generally suck the life out of it.
As for the move, it certainly is interesting. LeBron and Chris Bosh join D-Wade, Mario Chalmers, and, um, no one else in Miami once Michael Beasley is officially traded. LeBron and Wade are a heck of a nucleus, and Bosh is a nice, if overrated, compliment. But after Mario, if I understand things correctly, they now have to fill the roster with league-minimum contracts. I think that might be asking a lot of the other 11 guys on the roster. I imagine this move will pay off, but it’s higher risk than most people understand.
For the record, I think going to Chicago was the better move, but whatever. I don’t watch the NBA much anymore, so that’s an uninformed opinion.
What was far more interesting to me was how I followed the saga. I didn’t watch a minute of ESPN coverage. I barely read any ESPN, Yahoo, or Sports Illustrated articles on the selection. I got 80% of my news about what was going to happen from Twitter. Another 10% from Bill Simmons’ podcast. And the final 10% from non-traditional sports blogs.
The Twitter angle was especially fascinating. Consensus, at least in the slice of the Twittersphere that I follow, was that this was a big sham, a travesty, an affront to all that is right about sports. The contrarian in me wanted to go along with that school of thought. After all, I was avoiding almost all traditional media coverage. It should follow that I would go along with all the writers/bloggers/insiders on Twitter who were slamming the wall-to-wall drama.
But the reaction was so pronounced that it pushed me to reevaluate how I felt about the whole thing. Unlike others, I don’t think LeBron has tarnished his legacy terribly by last night’s event. It will be a footnote to everything else he does before he retires, but nothing more.
Following the LeBron saga on Twitter was not a conscious choice. That’s pretty much how I follow everything now. It’s far more convenient to get these immediate blasts of opinion from people I choose when something happens than sitting through the talking heads on ESPN, CNN, etc. More often than not, people on Twitter are sending links directly to articles with their Tweets. If I’m interested in learning more, I click the link and go read up on it. If not, I move on.
It changes, ever so slightly, the dynamic of following news online. The gatekeepers are people I select, not just for their opinions, but for the context they add to the news. Writer Buzz Bissinger was a must-follow this week, as he lambasted everyone involved in the LeBron affair. Bill Simmons offered his educated guesses. “Insiders” like Chad Ford constantly pushed out what they were learning. Twitter reinserts opinion and humor into news by adding a layer of real people on top of the stories. It’s a little like getting a hint of conversations that would normally take place in barbershops, bars, and backyard barbecues at the beginning of the news cycle.
Twitter might just be another Internet fad that peaked in 2010 and soon begins to fade away. But for now, at least, it’s changed the way I learn about what’s going on in the world.
Oh, and at least he didn’t pick the Knicks!