Cheap Seats: NBA free agency period may be more show than substanceWritten by Chris Schmidbauer | | firstname.lastname@example.org
For those of you who follow this column on a regular basis, you may already know that I have the opportunity to go on a local sports talk show, and for about 20 minutes, the program’s two hosts pick my brain on current events in the world of sports.
Last Tuesday during my appearance, we were just a mere 11 hours after open season in the NBA began, and stars such as LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, Chris Bosh, and Amare Stoudemire officially became free agents.
The sports wires were abuzz with who was meeting with what team, who would sign where, and any question of the sort. Obviously locally many of us, including yours truly, were trying to digest all the initial information poring in and struggling to figure out what was fact and what was fiction.
During my segment on the Odd Couple, I was asked what my predictions were for the most anticipated free agency period and who I thought would end up where.
My response, while somewhat vague, was that I was not sure where everyone would end up, but I thought that many of the players who were free agents would end up back with their original teams instead of moving on to greener pastures.
While combing the latest news headlines on Sunday evening, I came across a report filed on CBS Sports.com by NBA blogger Ken Berger. Berger’s story, located here, cites a conversation with an NBA executive who said that after presenting to Wade and James that the feeling was that both would return to their respective clubs last year.
Berger’s NBA source raises an interesting point, especially if all of the highly publicized turned out to be nothing more than a chance at showmanship.
Throughout the entire build up to the NBA free agent season, it has been regularly suggested that all the free agents, especially LeBron James, would definitely be suiting in a different uniform next season.
There were talks of a dream scenario with James, Wade, and Bosh all playing for the same team in Miami next season.
I wrote in a column a few weeks back that I hoped James stayed in Cleveland for some selfish reason but more so because I wanted someone to choose the underdog once, especially for a city that has been reeling due to economic hardships.
But is it possible that all of the hoopla was more of a hoax than anything else?
James, Wade, and the rest of the free agent lot deserved to meet with other teams to hear them out. It is possible, as hard as it is for the Cleveland fan in me to admit, that there are other opportunities out there to win.
But James, who has always been known for his flare for the dramatics on the court, may have just entertained the sporting world with one of the greatest performances of all time.
Imagine how unsatisfying it will be if Wade, LeBron, and Chris Bosh all re-sign with their respective teams.
We have been waiting for the earth shattering signing that will fill one city with immense pride and make several others dreaming of what could have been. How hollow will it be if all the potential blockbuster deals fizzle?
Dirk Nowitzki already re-signed with the Dallas Mavericks. Joe Johnson seems to be leaning towards re-signing in Atlanta. Paul Pierce appears to be set to don the Celtics green for another season. Maybe the summer that was supposed to go down as the most exciting summer in history turns out to be a biggest flop in history.
But this brings it all back to James and Wade, who both seem to be the ring leaders of this circus.
These are two players who have gotten the business side of sports since they were both drafted in 2003. Sports are more than just athletes playing a game these days. It is about endorsing products and generating a brand, which Wade and LeBron have worked at tirelessly.
But if the speculation is true, Wade and James may have pulled off the biggest promotional event ever. With where each superstar would play dominating talk since the Cavaliers were bounced from the playoffs, the free agency period overshadowed the rest of the playoffs and the NBA Finals.
It seems trite to say but if LeBron James winds up in wine and gold next season and Dwayne Wade finds himself back on South Beach, the biggest free agency period in NBA history may turn out to be its summer of discontent.
Chris Schmidbauer is sports editor for Toledo Free Press and Toledo Free Press Star. Contact him at email@example.com. He also can be heard every Tuesday at 11 AM on the Odd Couple Sports Show on Fox Sports Radio 1230 WCWA.