Every Monday morning, Section 215’s Akiem Bailum gives an in-depth and unfiltered look at all of the latest sports news in The Monday Morning Realist. You can follow Akiem on Twitter @AkiemBailum.
With all of the free agency “hoop”-la occurring throughout the NBA headlined by LeBron James’ return to Cleveland, the league’s offseason is outdoing the MLB regular season in terms of overall press coverage.
It is not only LeBron to Cleveland, of course, that is having basketball aficionados talking. Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh resigned with the Miami Heat. Carmelo Anthony returned to the New York Knicks, primarily because Phil Jackson and James Dolan offered Melo a high-money offer he could not refuse and because his celebrity wife, LaLa, supposedly wanting nothing to do with leaving Gotham. Pau Gasol ended up a member of the Chicago Bulls after the Los Angeles Lakers seemingly tried to low-ball him with a less-than-sufficient offer in terms of money.
Jeremy Lin was traded to the Lakers, and Chandler Parsons was shipped to Dallas by Houston in hopes that they would be able to free up the cap space necessary to offer Bosh a max contract and have him playing in Space City, USA this November. Except that he gave a Dikembe Mutumbo-like finger wag to the Rockets’ offer, supposedly because he didn’t want to play alongside Dwight Howard. Realists, I think the max contract that Pat Riley and the Heat gave Bosh (along with the fact that his wife lives in Miami) may also have had a little something to do with it.
So, with all of this NBA talk going on, coupled with the fact that the NBA Summer League seems to be interesting people on the social media stratosphere moreso than baseball’s regular season, what must Adam Silver be thinking?
He’s happy, alright, of course. It’s, dare I say, Christmas come early for the NBA.
Realists, we are still about five months away from Christmas Day, but as soon as the real December 25th holiday rolls around, as soon as everyone is done opening their presents from underneath their trees, everyone will most likely be tuning into the full slate of NBA action that will take place on ESPN and ABC.
Remember Christmas Day 2004? That was a year where I started to grow into my own as a sports fan and my knowledge of sports began to exponentially expand. It was also the year of the much-ballyhooed breakup of the Los Angeles Lakers with Karl Malone retiring, Gary Payton leaving, Phil Jackson “retiring” and Shaquille O’Neal teaming up with Wade in South Florida. He took his talents to South Beach long before LeBron ever did.
ESPN, ABC, and the NBA immediately capitalized on all of the Shaq vs. Kobe drama and scheduled a matchup for Christmas Day between the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center that afternoon on ABC. The Heat won in overtime in what was a close game throughout despite Shaq fouling out in the 4th quarter.
What must the powers that be on Park Avenue in New York be thinking now? The possibilities seem to be endless for this Christmas. Miami Heat vs. Cleveland Cavaliers at the American Airlines Arena in Miami is most likely a lock. They can also have a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Houston Rockets or (more likely) LA vs. the Chicago Bulls thanks to the news involving Lin and Gasol. What about Paul Pierce going to the Washington Wizards? Will ABC, ESPN, and the NBA have the Wiz take on either the Brooklyn Nets or the Boston Celtics, the jersey of whom Pierce will wear when he is enshrined into the Basketball Hall of Fame a few years after he hangs said jersey up?
Or Lance Stephenson heading to the Charlotte Hornets and playing his former team—the Indiana Pacers. And, of course, there will likely be a rematch of the Western Conference Finals with the defending champion San Antonio Spurs taking on the Oklahoma City Thunder. This also coming at a time where there is increased attention to the fact that the NBA is on the verge of inking a new television contract. It has been rumored that the league wants double the amount in currently gets in rights fees when it negotiates its new deal.
The NBA’s free agent period and Summer League sessions are taking a lot of publicity, media attention, and fan attention away from the MLB, even though that may die down a little bit now with NFL teams slowly but surely trickling into their respective training camps. But make no mistake about it—the league’s offices, as well as ABC in New York and ESPN in Bristol are already leaving a nice glass of milk and some cookies for Santa.
Even though everyone else is in a summer state of mind, the constant wheeling & dealing within the NBA (as well as the high-profile nature of the names involved) already have the NBA and its television partners singing Yuletide Carols.