Who would have thought that LeBron might end up looking like a good guy after he announces his new team? Announced earlier today, LeBron will have a one-hour primetime ESPN special dedicated to… him. So, who are the winners and losers of this decision?Starting at 9 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, The Publishers Clearing House LeBron James $102 Million (or $133 Million) Free Agency Signing-Sweepstakes Live Prime Time Special presented by Coca-Cola, Nike, and McDonald’s (working title, but ESPN is more than welcome to take that one) will finally reveal where he will play for the near future. LeBron and his people get to sell the advertising during the special.
ESPN: They get to boost their 3Q ratings numbers by broadcasting this special. They probably will get the first interview with LeBron after he “decides.”
Boys and Girls Clubs of America: They are the designated charity that will receive the revenues from the advertising sales.
LeBron James: He has been the center of attention during this 2010 free agency period, and has now orchestrated a show revolving around him. Donate ad money to charity so that people won’t think you’re a d**k? He’s only helping his image, which might need help should he choose to leave Cleveland.
Advertisers (especially those that sponsor LeBron): Got a new product to promote? Why not start at the LeBron special? Heck, maybe LeBron will hold it up during the show. It’s his rodeo, after all. (Note: After I wrote this, Bing and the University of Phoenix were announced as sponsors) Wouldn’t it be great if the University of Phoenix had some hilarious advertising campaign that offers LeBron a free education after he retires?
The IRS: Sure, it’s great that LeBron is donating the advertising sales to charity, but that doesn’t make our deficit shrink any faster.
Any Free Agent Not Named LeBron: You sign a new contract and you get to hold up a jersey in front of some journalists and reporters in the bowels of some sports arena. LeBron signs a contract, and he gets a one-hour prime time special devoted to it. (Note: After I wrote this, Bosh and Wade made their announcement)
Owners and General Managers of the teams that don’t get LeBron: In most failed contract negotiations, the most negative publicity is seeing that desired free agent stand in front of a backdrop of a competing team’s logo and main sponsor (see above). If you fail here, you get to see the most prized free agent in years rub it in your face in prime time on ESPN.
The Viewers: Was the NBA Lottery show too exciting for you? Would you like less drama and action on ESPN? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, you’re an idiot. Here’s how the run down of the show will look like:
6-9 PM ET: THREE HOURS OF SPORTSCENTER. Most likely a countdown clock as well. Hourly or half-hourly updates in the studio where the decision will be made.
9 PM ET: The Decision begins. Stuart Scott, Michael Wilbon, and Jon Barry gather in an ESPN studio somewhere and welcome everyone to the show. They explain that this night is huge and explain to people who have had their head buried in the sand what is going on, and why this is so important. During this portion of the show, there might be some graphics indicating the various teams in play, 2009-10 record, team draft picks, notable offseason news, and other crap that will help fill space on the screen.
9:14 PM: Commercial break. Expect ads by the two sponsors Bing and the University of Phoenix, as well as McDonald’s and vitaminwater.
9:17 PM: Back to the studio. More emphasis on how important it is for you to keep watching. They’ll probably cover other free agent signings, and how that might affect LeBron’s decision. The analysts will then give their predictions on where LeBron will go. They’ll then tease viewers with a look at the other studio where LeBron is.
9:24 PM: More commercials.
9:27 PM: They go live to LeBron’s studio. I’m imagining a setup very similar to the NBA Draft Lottery: Podiums for each team involved, with GMs or owners (or both) seated behind them. LeBron won’t be on-stage yet, but the analysts will interview the GMs and owners. “What did you say to LeBron? What do you think your chances are?” they will ask. Answers to aforementioned questions: “We made a very strong presentation” and “We think our chances are good.”
9:35 PM: Even more commercials. An ad will probably be repeated for the third time.
9:38 PM: The phrase “We’re getting very close to hearing LeBron’s decision, now” will be uttered for the fourteenth time. A recap of why LeBron should go to each team. Another emphasis on why it’s so important for people to continue watching. LeBron will come on stage and deliver a short monologue explaining his process, explain his role in the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and make some remark as to how he is making this choice based on what is best for the future. During this monologue, there will be close-ups of the various owners and GMs present, and maybe some shots of various places in the candidate cities that have a lot of fans gathered to help gauge fan reaction.
9:45 PM: Two ways LeBron can announce the team he has selected:
Option A: NBA Lottery-style, big goofy envelopes and all. LeBron eliminates teams one-by-one, maybe giving a brief reason why he didn’t make that decision. Maybe even a cliff-hanger over the next commercial break when it comes down to two teams.
Option B: LeBron flat-out announces who he’s going to sign with, replete with a large wooden desk and fancy pens to sign with. The owner(s) and GM presents LeBron’s new jersey with the team (and his new number), amidst many flashbulbs flashing. Fade to commercial break with a graphic teasing an exclusive interview with LeBron.
9:48 PM: Commercial break. If LeBron has selected a team by now, expect an ad from the NBA.com Shop where you can purchase LeBron’s jersey RIGHT NOW (similar to what Sports Illustrated does after a team wins the Super Bowl).
9:51 PM: The analysts ask LeBron dumb questions about why he selected the team that he did. If he doesn’t stay in Cleveland, the first question will probably be, “Why didn’t you stay in Cleveland?” or the slightly-more advanced, “Was it difficult leaving your hometown?” Answers to questions: “I have a great opportunity to play for a team and hopefully we’ll win a championship. I can’t wait to play with (insert notable player from new team here).” “Yes, it was a very difficult decision, but I’m hoping that my fans will still support me as I move on to the next stage of my career.”
9:56 PM: LeBron’s interview concludes, and then the analysts give their opinions of if LeBron made the right move. They’ll point to potential teammates still in the free agent pool, salary cap space, or the projected lineup for next season.
10:00 PM: They throw it to SportsCenter or some NBA talk show to discuss instant reactions of the LeBron decision, maybe even go to Twitter for fan opinions.