Friday, July 08, 2011

LeBron's Decision: One Year Later

Here is what I wrote the morning after The Decision, which was one year ago tonight:
I don't begrudge LeBron his decision, but there are consequences.

Let's start with the backlash he deserves: This show/spectacle was off-putting, on all fronts. It was a horrible way to treat Cleveland fans — and a condescending way to treat all fans.

Now the backlash he doesn't deserve: Choosing to play alongside Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, as if the only way he should play is on his own.

I have said this before: LeBron is about nothing if not exceptionalism. And, in this case, "starring on your own" has been done before, plenty of times.

What has never been done — never been done — is a star entering his prime choosing to play with two other stars in their prime. From that perspective, his "decision" is to be celebrated. It is a risk unlike any in NBA history.

Because of those darned consequences: Forget his pariah status in Ohio. More universally, he has created a set of expectations for himself that are more brutal than for any other player in the history of the NBA.

He not only MUST win an NBA title, but I would argue that one isn't enough. Two probably isn't enough. Three merely matches Kobe (who has done it twice). Four or five? Come on. ...

Let's get real: Season-ticket packages are sold on regular-season superstardom. Championships are won by a combination of stars and fantastic supporting casts. Just look at the Lakers the past two years. Or, more instructively, the Lakers in 2004.

"Miami Thrice" (ugh) has the star power — but even with Mike Miller (who I think is a brilliant addition), with league-minimum talent surrounding them, I find it hard to see them winning 16 games in the playoffs.

Next year? Good luck getting past the Lakers. In the two-three years after that? Who will guard Dwight Howard? After that? The reign of Kevin Durant. All of a sudden, it's 2015 and the Heat have won ... hmm: anything?

It wouldn't surprise me if LeBron, Wade and Bosh win zero titles over these next five years — I certainly see that as being more realistic than them winning, say, two or three. A fair question: Would two even be enough?

The punishment to his basketball legacy for not fulfilling the expectations — particularly if he is ringless — will make his enemy-of-the-state status in Ohio seem benign.

Good luck with that, LeBron.

A year later, I'm struck by how little attention "The Decision" show itself got from me. I mean, yes, IDing that it was off-putting, yes, but I was so focused on the on-court implications. In that way, I mis-read the national reaction almost as much as LeBron or the media did.

Having not looked at this particular column in a year, I'm struck by this idea near the end: "The punishment to his basketball legacy for not fulfilling the expectations — particularly if he is ringless — will make his enemy-of-the-state status in Ohio seem benign."

In fact, that is precisely what happened -- with the off-puttingness from The Decision show itself as the foundation.

One year later, The Decision turns out to have been a far bigger blunder in hindsight than it was the morning of July 9, 2010.

-- D.S.

July 8: The Shannon Stone Tragedy

All I wanted to do this morning was write about The Decision, one year later.

Then Rangers fan Shannon Stone died after flipping over the railing at the ballpark while catching a foul ball innocently tossed to him by Josh Hamilton. Stone's son was sitting right next to him.

That any fan would die at the ballpark is tragic. That Stone was simply trying to collect a priceless memory for his young son is the part that has me choked up just thinking about it.

That is me, as a parent -- or any parent. Could have been your parent, when you were a kid. Could be you, for your own kids.

I am toggling between grief for Stone's son and his family and the natural projection of my own feelings for my kids, particularly as my older son, just 5, is at the start of his life as a sports fan.

Yesterday, Mrs. Quickish and I dropped off our kids at my in-laws' house in Florida, leaving them for two weeks. Each of us - parents, kids, grandparents - is going to have a blast.

But this morning, all I really want to do is adjust the increasingly ubiquitous baseball hats on my kids' heads, give them hugs and tell them I love them.

Thoughts are with Shannon Stone's kid and family, the Rangers and fans everywhere who feel as terrible about this as I do.

If you're looking for a single great read this morning about Stone, here is a column from Yahoo's Jeff Passan.

-- D.S.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

07/07 (Jeter) Quickie

Slow on the draw today, but on the other hand, I just left my kids with their grandparents for the next two weeks, so there's that. As I tweeted earlier today, that's a rare "win-win-win" scenario.

Carve out 15 minutes this afternoon to read Joe Posnanski on Derek Jeter and the 3,000-hits thing. I'm not a big Jeter fan, although I can appreciate him (though without typical worship).

I think I will come to appreciate him more after his career is over -- I already do, now that it's on the wane. It was a lot easier than earlier years, when I disliked him because I'm not a Yankees fan and I didn't like the blind worship from basically everyone (says the erstwhile Tebow blogger).

Anyway, it finally clicked for me that our professional tracks have been side-by-side: When Jeter came up to the Yankees, I was just out of college and starting my own career.

And so I have not had a professional moment that did not include Derek Jeter as a constant -- perhaps THE constant. That resonated for me, even if he is in career decline while I -- at least theoretically -- am still chugging along professionally, perhaps with my best years still ahead.

So read the essay above. More on Jeter as he hits 3000.

BTW: I'm leaning towards this whole "Deron Williams signs to play in Turkey during the lockout" as one of the more genius moves by a player in a long time. If nothing else, it's got novelty and trailblazing going for it. Watch other players follow suit.

-- D.S.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

07/05 (5th of July) Quickie

Casey Anthony not guilty: Really? Seriously?

So I think that the NFL labor impasse is resolved in the next three weeks. If you can hold out until then, I think you'll be rewarded.

As for the NBA, I think you've got a six-month slog ahead of you, so settle in.

But that's not to say there aren't interesting storylines to keep you going.

For example, Derek Jeter returned to the Yankees last night -- same story: Limp offensive contributions. At what point will Yankees fans care more about their team than their Captain and get behind the idea of dropping him to the end of the lineup -- or out of it altogether -- at least against right-handed pitchers, against which he has been brutal.

I know they love him and he's the most popular Yankee ever, but there is serious cognitive dissonance going on with this.

Albert Pujols is back tonight for the Cardinals, three weeks ahead of schedule. Huge playoff implications hanging on whether his wrist looks good or not -- maybe not immediately, but over time.

Bryce Harper elevated to AA, where he'll stay the rest of the 2011 season: He's off to a fast start. He'll crush it there, then play the first two months of 2012 in AAA before getting called up and teaming with Stephen Strasburg to make the Nationals one of the most must-see teams of the spring (perhaps the season, if fans turn out to check out Harper).

Tiger Woods pulls out of British Open: Did you really think he would play? Rory McIlroy is a hell of a story, but when the dominant plotline of your sport is "Will Tiger play or not?" (not even "Will Tiger win or not?"), you have a soft underbelly.

By the way, tennis hasn't been better in a quarter-century, so enjoy it.

MLB Final Vote endorsements: AL -- Paul Konerko. NL -- I am abstaining out of protest for Andrew McCutchen being left off both the original roster THEN the Final Vote options. Vote here.

Great new book out today: Flip Flop Fly Ball by Craig Robinson of the same-named blog, which focuses on cool infographical treatments of baseball.

Now, appreciating odd tennis and golf storylines might not be as satisfying as getting ready for NFL training camp or watching summer league, but either you're making the best of things or you're sitting there focused on the Casey Anthony verdict. I'll take the former, along with a very compelling second half of the baseball season coming up.

Be sure to check out Quickish, which has been rolling along all day today (and yesterday plus the entire weekend, too).

-- D.S.