LEBRON’S CIRCUS ENDS; MIAMI’S NOW BEGINS

The most upsetting part of this ridiculous night came at 9:18 p.m., when the cameras first showed LeBron James sitting across from his chosen interviewer, Jim Gray, and in the background were rows of … children?

I wanted to throw up. Bad enough that we adults have to watch the decline of grace to where a guy who calls himself The King gets a prime-time TV special to announce where he’ll play basketball next season (an hour-long special at that!), but the fact that an audience of children was put around him, effectively being told, “Aren’t you lucky, kids, to be part of this? This is what MATTERS in life”? Lord, send me a bucket.

Look. I had to watch this. It’s my job to comment on big sports stories, and LeBron James switching teams to join Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami is a big sports story whether I like the process or not. But why anyone else would waste time is beyond me. And milking the drama for nearly 20 minutes (“Coming up, The King chooses his next court!” ESPN’s Stuart Scott cooed), followed by a maddening series of inane queries by Gray designed to further wring out the process (“Where’s the tie?””So what’s new?””Did you enjoy the recruiting process?””Do you want more time to sleep on it?” were all questions Gray actually spit out), was not only irresponsible journalism, it was bad theater.

The only real insight was when Jon Barry, looking at LeBron, blurted out, “He doesn’t look happy.”

He was right. For all that, The King looked blah. And he hasn’t seen Miami traffic yet. So many losers on this night

Of course, many folks were less than thrilled Thursday night. How about the New York Knicks, who have all but promised fans His Highness for two years? You think Amare Stoudemire will suffice? Come on. That guy couldn’t win when he had Steve Nash, Shaq and Grant Hill as teammates.

How about Cleveland, divorced at the altar? LeBron kept reminding viewers of “the great things” he has done for his home team and state. Are you kidding? He just dashed their hopes, bolted to his personal all-star team and traded the Midwest for a South Beach party. Guess where they’d like to throw his powder now?

The only solace the Cavaliers, Knicks, Bulls, Nets and Clippers can take from LeBron’s new hookup is that James-Wade-Bosh is no sure champion. Sorry, but you can’t just add their scoring averages last season (29.7, 26.6, 24.0 respectively) and figure that’s 80 points right there. The big number is one. As in one ball.

LeBron will have to pull back. So will Wade. The parts are greater than the sum. And let’s say this right now: Bosh is milking more of out the company he’s keeping than anyone on the planet, or at least since Ringo said OK to John, Paul and George.

If Bosh were such a superstar, how come most of the country never heard of him before last month? He’s wiry. He has been in 11 playoff games. And his ego is such that he has had a reality TV crew following him this summer, while continually expecting Toronto to do a sign-and-trade so that he could make more money, even though he wiped his sneakers with the franchise. Take pity on Cleveland and Toronto

Which brings us to one of two huge questions for the now three-headed Miami Heat monster (or is it the three-person Miami Heat roster?). First: Ego. Sure, they love one another now. But Kobe and Shaq once did, too. Eventually they exploded their team over differences. And they WON!

Today’s love is tomorrow’s complaint. Ask older players. Or married people. LeBron said this when asked about sharing the spotlight in Miami: “For me it’s not about sharing, it’s about everybody having their own spotlight and then doing what’s best for the team.”

Lombardi just rolled over.

Question two: Role players. Nobody wins a title without them. Robert Horry. Dennis Rodman. Vinnie Johnson. Where do the role players come from? What money is left for them? Are they even allowed to shower with the Big Three?

(By the way, David Stern, this summer just proved your salary cap – designed for parity – is a joke; it can be manipulated like something from Goldman Sachs. You now have several decimated rosters. Nobody wants to go to the Clevelands or Torontos – despite winning records – and the new hip team is in a city where the players can party until the sun comes up, all winter long.)

About the only good news is the pathetic LeBron circus is finally over. He’s a basketball player, not a king. It’s a contract, not a life. And it’s show biz, not school. So can we get the kids out of there?

Or at least cover their eyes?

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