LeBron James's 2010 free agency remains the most entertaining thing to happen in the NBA in years, with fans, suitors, and speculators running around like headless chickens for a week, all while James maintained complete control of the timing and tenor of his decision. (Sorry, his Decision.) As an unrepentant fan of spectacles, I would very much like to do it all over again. Yesterday was an excellent start.
It began with a Cleveland radio guy.
Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert is currently en route to south Florida.
— Joe Lull (@LullOnSports) July 6, 2014
It's my contention that a solid 60 percent of fake rumors begin with tweets by local radio guys (with the rest coming from fake Woj accounts), but Lull was onto something here. Of course, he didn't have all the details quite right:
“. @LullOnSports:Cavs owner Dan Gilbert is currently en route to south Florida.” I am? Sorry folks but enjoying weather in my backyard today
— Dan Gilbert (@cavsdan) July 6, 2014
That's about when Cavs internet sprung into action, taking a page from college football fans: Someone got ahold of the registration number for Gilbert's Gulfstream IV. Gilbert's private jet was indeed on its way to Broward County, and that's not nothing; the travels of Gilbert (or at least his plane) can be matched up to meeting with Cavs' targets that were reported elsewhere.
In the absence of information, two competing theories filled the void. 1) Gilbert's staff was only visiting a mall project he owns in Miami, and this flight had nothing to do with LeBron; or 2) Gilbert wasn't on the plane, but Zydrunas Ilgauskas was! Big Z, a close confidant of James's, was in South Florida to woo his old buddy back to Cleveland!
The evening culminated with Tim Reynolds, an AP sportswriter who's too good to be staking out an airport, staking out an airport:
Dan Gilbert has a plane. It's here. pic.twitter.com/G7WUeUcV87
— Tim Reynolds (@ByTimReynolds) July 6, 2014
Gilbert's plane flew back to Michigan last night, and this morning headed to Washington D.C. John Wall heading to Cleveland in blockbuster trade?!!
I love this stuff. It's so easy to go along with the fun of speculation, and all the passion of the fans who actually have skin in the game. I can't even find myself mad at reporters who should know better getting swept up by hype:
Cleveland has replaced Miami as my frontrunner to land LeBron James...
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) July 7, 2014
It's important to never lose your anchor. Don't forget that free agency rumors are for amusement purposes only, just like Chris Broussard. From the heady days of Decision 1.0:
Taped some Free Agent segments with JA Adande and Ric Bucher for TV today. Changed my prediction for LeBron from Chicago to Cleveland
— Chris Broussard (@Chris_Broussard) June 12, 2010
So where does LeBron James actually, actually stand? That's a damned good question, because he's kept a tight lid on things—just like last time. But there are reporters out there doing work.
So far, James has stayed out of the negotiating, leaving it to his agent to meet with teams including Cleveland, Phoenix, Houston, Dallas, and the Lakers. But USA Today's Sam Amick reports that James has planned a face-to-face meeting with Heat president Pat Riley early this week. Yahoo's Adrian Wojnarowski, meanwhile, reports that James's agent has been encouraging the Cavaliers in their belief that they have a shot to land him, if they can clear enough cap room for a max deal.
Your challenge this week is to to separate the wheat from the chaff, the real free agency meetings and dealings from the flight-tracking. It's not easy, and it's not fun, but do you want to be an informed consumer, or do you want to spend your life chasing shiny things?
...You're right, shiny things. Hey look: after four years, the Cavs' website finally took down Gilbert's petulant Comic Sans letter guaranteeing a Cleveland title before one for LeBron's Heat, a letter that was still online as recently as last night. LeBron's totally signing with the Cavs! As first reported by Caroline's Cupcakes.