Friday, November 06, 2009

Friday 11/06 Quickie: LeBron, Yanks,
NFL Week 9, Buckeyes, Hot Stove

I'm a big fan of New York Times NBA writer Howard Beck, who has a nice bit of analysis today -- in honor of LeBron's one trip this season to the Garden -- questioning whether LeBron even needs New York. (Short answer: He doesn't, at least from a business standpoint.)

I saw that piece AFTER I filed this morning's SN column, which leads with the opposite question: Does New York even need LeBron?

Would he make the Knicks better? Absolutely. But does the town need LeBron as an attraction? Hardly. And, the bigger question in light of the Yankees winning the World Series: New York brooks no losers -- is LeBron even up to the challenge of winning a title?

The only reference point we have is last season, when the Cavs were the No. 1 seed in the East -- and, really, missed winning the NBA title by a fairly wide margin, given the expectations. You have to put at least some of that on LeBron, who (or whose marketing campaign) has never shied away from putting Bron above the team, the individual brand above the championship goal.

But, honestly, that was the bracket for a larger (typically superlative) point I wanted to make: No team this decade -- in any sport -- was under more pressure to win a championship than these Yankees... and they did it.

On the one hand, it's easy for me to say "Well, they SHOULD have won it." On the other -- no matter how I feel about their anti-competitive spending, their fans' triumphalism, etc. -- I may not have any greater respect for a champ that was EXPECTED to be a champ.

It's actually an interesting debate: It's easy to love the team that unexpectedly wins a title -- it's hard to like a team that SHOULD win a title (and does). But it's easy to respect them.

More you'll find in today's column:

*NFL Week 9: The Game of the Week is Cowboys-Eagles, but I am mostly intrigued by the Vince Young-Alex Smith showdown.

*CFB Storylines: I am no fan of Ohio State, but I think they win the Big Ten title this year, starting with a win at Penn State (and continuing with a win next week vs. Iowa). Speaking of Iowa, my Upset Special is Northwestern over Iowa, but I know that's folly. (An Iowa win combined with an Ohio State win would also set up the Big Ten Game of the Year next week.) By the way, don't sleep on LSU at Alabama -- the toughest game on Bama's schedule before the SEC title game.

*The Tim Lincecum jokes are too easy. (Let's focus on the Red Sox getting reclamation project -- at Age 26! -- Jeremy Hermida from the Marlins.)

*I like West Virginia as a college hoops upstart, rather than a Top 5 team -- Huggins has always done better as the aggrieved outsider.

As always on Fridays, there's a lot more there. Would love your take on those opening ideas in the Comments. More later.

-- D.S.


Steve Sprague said...

Actually I think both sides of the opening argument are right. LeBron does not need NYC, and the Knicks don't need LeBron.

Who are the most recognizable athletes by sport? LeBron, Peyton Manning, Sidney Crosby and Alex Rodriguez. Only one plays in NYC, and A-Rod was the most recognizable before he was a Yankee. You could also argue for Pujols over A-Rod in MLB.

In prior years, read pre-ESPN, it was probably much more important to be in New York. Now with ESPN, the internet, sattelite, etc., an athlete can easily establish a brand purely on skill and media saviness.

An average to slightly above average player can increase his earnings and exposure in NYC. A superstar is basically already at the top regardless of where he is.

As far as NYC needing LeBron that too is untrue. The Yankees, Knicks, Giants, etc. command a lot of media attention already because of the population of NYC and the tri-state area. Add in the fact that all the major networks are headquartered there and it is a landslide.

The Knicks chances of winning don't greatly improve by signing a me-first player like LeBron. He does make his teammates better, and it would be a step towards competitiveness, but given that he is already 7 years into his career would he have enough patience to wait around while the pieces fall into place? A better strategy for the Knicks would be to wait and see if Durant becomes available. They can build the pieces now, and hope that he can put them over the top when he hits the market.

Unknown said...

How many times this season has Iowa been your "upset special"?

At what point does everyone that's been hating on the Hawks all season, saying every week that they'll lose, have to own up and eat crow? When they're 10-0? 11-0? When does it stop being trendy to pick them to lose and start giving them credit as being pretty good?

What I get a kick out of is, if this were college basketball, and a team like Iowa was gritting out win after win after win, one that wasn't a "traditional power", people would be fawning over them. However, since it's Iowa, and since we're in the Big Ten, it's like we're breaking some unwritten rule that says we can't be any good. What happens if/when they go undefeated, go to the Rose Bowl, and beat Oregon? Does the BCS explode? Can we please make that happen?