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I'm been having a field day with Russkie-takes-Nets on The Baseline, wandering into Red Dawn territory, and saying that Stern's being bum rushed by the devil he danced with. I have also spent twenty minutes trying to find just the right clip from Deep Blue Sea, preferably the one with the underwear and shark electrocution.

But while America crumbles and the NBA must make a hard choice between its dreams and the nightmare they've become, Tom Ziller has confirmed that LeBron James is "so headed to the Nets." He'd have to do a year in Jersey and then, a New York franchise with absolutely no cash flow problem. Ever. Plus, with Harris, Lee, and Lopez, there's a nucleus on par with anything's Bron's ever had in Cleveland. Most importantly, though, there's absolutely no underestimating what a marketing this team will be. LeBron + Yi + Jay + some guy whose last name is Lopez + international ownership that shows no mercy? All other franchises should resign and quit.

Maybe it's not so clear how this translates into absolute dominance on these shores. Remember, though, that's only a small fraction of the world's population. And they like LeBron. The rest of the world, well, they're pretty much covered, and there's no way what's-his-face is seeing this as anything other than a global market investment. Like soccer or some shit. Perfect storm or way of the future, where eventually the NBA plays for nearly-empty USA arenas (peppered with kids who love the game and were last seen in the KG/Marbury "fun police" ad), while billions come in from overseas.

Note to self: File restraining order against that new Bruce Willis movie.

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At 9/23/2009 3:24 PM, Blogger Ty Keenan said...

Not to get all basketball experty here, but LeBron and Brook would run the pick-and-pop until the end of time.

At 9/23/2009 6:04 PM, Blogger Teach said...

Keenan: It also wouldn't be bad to see LeBron play alongside a point guard who pushes the ball in Harris.

At 9/23/2009 8:04 PM, Blogger William said...

I appreciate CoFlo references wherever they can happen.

At 9/23/2009 11:55 PM, Blogger djturtleface said...

I've been telling everyone I know to start a Nets blog. To be honest it's been over since the VC trade, if it wasn't this Russian kingpin it would have been somebody else. Maybe the Chinese government.

LeBron is the ultimate economic resource. He's somehow both more than Jordan and less because for some reason it seems like LeBron has more people using him for profit, whereas Jordan seemed to always be in control of every penny of the fortunes he generated.

At 9/24/2009 4:09 AM, Blogger Kalyan said...

Wow, this is definitely quite a development. I think he's absolutely right- this move puts the New Jersey (I guess New York) Nets further in into the global marketplace than any other franchise in the NBA since The Bulls in the 1990s, while appealing to its domestic roots:

1) Devin Harris is the type of point guard that New York seems to embrace. His game is reminiscent of a Rucker-Park legend: ultra-quick, can get to the hole at will and a surprisingly effective distributor (7 APG last year). If he's focused, he's a lockdown defender as well. Coupled for Jay-Z affection for all things Brooklyn, the team should readily appeal to its local fan base (considering that the alternative New York team is still in shambles with no great young talent).

2) It's looking like Yao Ming is looking at the twilight of his career so enter Yi Jianlian. He's already the second-most popular player from Chinese decent. If Yao is officially done and Yi capitalizes on his flashes of potential, the Nets have unlocked a 1.3 billion person marketplace.

3) Andrei Kirilenko is no longer the AK47 we all knew and loved. The Russians are going to stop supporting the Jazz and start supporting the Nets. That's another 140 million people.

If LeBron is serious about cementing himself as a global icon, he should play for the Nets. He's going to unlock all of the benefits of playing in New York while getting himself more expose than he already has in Europe and Asia. On top of that, he's got a fan-friendly point-guard and an emerging post-threat in Lopez.

Jesus. This sucks for Cleveland.

At 9/24/2009 9:53 AM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

What is so interesting about this case is that the stated rationales (of everyone but LeBron, since he has not been clear) are primarily economic. Like, "If you have a marketing advantage, he will come." It's so utterly deliberate and boring.

To build on what djturtle was saying, in terms of other interested parties controlling him rather than him controlling other interested parties, he's been incubated as a commodity for so long, there might be little wiggle-room to move. It seems that Kobe and Jordan were lesser-known quantities (or at least not as overburdened with business interests) at the beginning of their careers so they had a moment to pause and gain control of their identities. (They also appear to be more savvy.)

This might subconsciously be part of what made James decide to choose "Chosen" as an appropriate tattoo. LeBron's marketed identity has been manufactured from such an early age that he could not have ever had much agency in his decisionmaking. From an outsider's perspective (mine), it appears that Jordan and Kobe both willed their presence into the media scene (Jordan by taking time to become notably great and Kobe by playing in O'Neal's shadow), while LeBron was incubated in it. He had no challenge, in this sense. He was a child prince while others before him had to storm the throne. (This is in a business sense, not basketball, since Kobe clearly had it too easy at the beginning of his career by winning championships so early.)

If Jay Z and this Russian dude can usurp LeBron away from the Knicks, it would really show how low the Knicks franchise has gone. I just wonder if LeBron is interested in schlepping all the way to Downtown Brooklyn when MSG is so close to his Central Park condo. (I mean this literally and metaphorically.)

At 9/24/2009 2:31 PM, Blogger Kalyan said...

@FunWithLogic. Although it may be a bit of a boorish topic, economics will be a crucial factor in LeBron's decision next summer. He has stated time and time again that his ultimate goal is to be the first athlete worth a billion dollars (although I do believe Tiger Woods will beat him to the punch). Placing himself upon the biggest stage that the NBA has to offer from a domestic and global standpoint is a point of differentiation that no other team can offer.

Your stance that Kobe and Jordan were lesser-known quantities is obviously correct, however you have to realize we all still live in the shadow of Jordan. He changed our entire viewpoint of the sport- in the 80's, teams were marketed based on depth and cohesion (think Lakers, Celtics, 76ers & Bad Boy Pistons). However, when there is a black swan like Jordan that begins to galvanize an entire population, everyone shifted their perspective to focusing on stars.

When Jordan left in 1998, the NBA was scrambling to find the "New Jordan" instead of going back to their roots. We all thought it was Kobe, but it was clear that he lacked the charisma that Jordan had. So when LeBron was drafted in 2003, the American public quickly lionized him as "King James". Your absolutely right, It's not so much that LeBron made the conscious decision to be the real-life Jesus Shuttlesworth, it was just everyone else desperate to find the next Jordan.

But quite honestly, I doubt you couldn't find a 17-year-old individual who wouldn't get a "chosen one" tatoo if they had the god-given talent he was given.

At 9/24/2009 6:53 PM, Blogger FunWithLogic said...

I totally hear what you are saying about the economics - obviously it's the most important consideration. The predictability and (apparent) obsession is what makes it lame. Basketball is clearly secondary. Everything - health care, having a home, government regulation, being an elected official - is secondary, at this point. As a fan of the sport (though admittedly interested in the politics/economics as well), I'd like more emphasis placed on the sport itself. The Rockets are infinitely more interesting than LeBron for this reason. It's really a critique of sports in general, but LeBron is the biggest and easiest target.

I guess it's the presumption of god-givenness that makes the "chosen" dynamic interesting. It is, in its essence, a very passive statement. It presumes that it came from something external - I'd say, since he wants to be a corporate image constructed by advertisement and not just a talent from his own hands and feet. God and business are playing the same role of "giver" in this metaphor.

At 9/25/2009 12:46 AM, Blogger Kalyan said...

I do understand your plight. I think we all want to simplify our view of the game to its most obvious level. However, we can't be naive that the ultrasuperstars (LeBron, Kobe etc.) hold a significant stake in their corporate appeal, maybe even more so than their basketball ability (which is sad in of itslef).

I feel that today's athletes are extremely sophisciated in that they understand the full market potential of their abilities. They no longer want to win championships for the sake of winning championships. Rather, they want to reach the apex of their sport because that's where the elite make their marketing dollars.

LeBron was given an extreme amount of athletic potential either from God or some other source. I think you're right- he wants to be a corporate image constructed by advertisement, just like MJ was. He wants to transcend his sport like MJ did. He simply wants to follow the Jordan blueprint.

At 9/25/2009 1:47 AM, Blogger Mr. Six said...

LeBron sought out a relationship with Warren Buffett.

He used his relationship with Dan Gilbert to get into the Allen & Co. billionaire conference.

I think that there's plenty of evidence that LBJ is working his connections to advance his interests. Of course, they're also using him. That's how a network functions. It's not a zero-sum transaction.


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