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.