The LeBron James made-for-TV free agent "Decision" has been all anyone in the sports world has talked about since it took place on Thursday. I have to admit it has consumed me and perhaps a little too much.The other night I had the strangest dream. It was something out of the short lived ABC TV Show "Flashforward."
The year is 2015. In Washington D.C., the Big 4 franchises are all facing difficult offseasons. It is a strange time in sports since all of the major sports leagues have gone through difficult labor times. The NBA almost locked out players after they refused to sign on a new labor agreement that included a one All-Star per team rule (spawned from the 2010 offseason when Miami got all of them). They agreed, and LeBron was sent back to Cleveland where the Cavaliers had just won their third straight NBA title. (LeBron is still searching for his first).
Bud Selig continues to do everything in his power to clean up Major League Baseball. He and the players are battling over his insistence that players no longer use sports energy drinks prior to games. Bud points out his dear friend Henry Aaron never had such an edge.
The NFL owners and players are still fighting over extending the regular season. The owners want to play 30 regular season games just four years after increasing from 16 to 18. The move to 30 would also put an end to preseason games, and training camps would open the first week of June and the season would end in April. Commissioner Roger Goodell is threatening to suspend all players that does not agree with the idea.
The NHL well ... the players just want their games to be on any network besides Versus. The league and the network said, "No."
In D.C., some anxious moments await in free agency, as John Wall, Stephen Strasburg, Brian Orakpo, and Alex Ovechkin are all free agents. I know this all sounds very strange since Ovie signed a 13-year extension in 2008, but nightmares have no regard for contract terms. All four have reportedly been meeting in secret about possible destinations, like New York, Miami, Chicago or D.C. Now, the part of the dream that is really confusing is all four are free agents at the same time and are expected to make a decision on the same day.
Things start spinning a little out of control. Word is that all four ready to make the decision known in a press conference on ESPN6 (a channel run by Maverick Carter). The channel is a 24/7 network where free agents make destination announcements. The show was brokered for the players by Channel 5's Dave Feldman, but Feldman was squeezed out of the show because network insisted on using Jim Gray.
Anyway, before I get to "The D.C. Fours'" decision, let me get everyone up to speed on how the franchises are doing.
The Redskins have gone to four straight playoffs and won two division titles, but they have no Super Bowls under Mike Shanahan. So, during the 2015 offseason, Dan Snyder announces he is bringing back Vinny Cerrato to help get the franchise over the top (or, because not having Cerrato involved is less fun for Snyder). Shanahan and Bruce Allen leave, so Orakpo, a four-time Pro Bowler by now, is having second thoughts about staying in D.C. He seems to like the idea of helping Brett Favre get that elusive second ring in New York with the Giants, where the 45-year old quarterback is now playing.
The Nationals have sold out every game Stephen Strasburg has started over the last five years and actually have a team that could contend. Strasburg has been to four All-Star Games and won two Cy Young Awards despite the Nationals never allowing him to pitch past the seventh inning and never allowing him to exceed 100 pitches in a start. Strasburg also has never pitched a game past Sept. 1, as the Nationals continue to save him for the "future." Strasburg would like to try to pitch in an eighth inning before his career is over and may have to leave to do so. The Yankees seem to be a likely destination, since they are offering him $500 million a start.
Alexander Ovechkin has led the Capitals to five straight Presidents' trophies and deep playoff runs, but every time, they run into the "greatest" playoff goalie of our generation, Jaroslav Halak. The odd part of the
dream nightmare is Halak keeps getting traded to whichever team stands in the Capitals way of winning the Stanley Cup. They never beat him! The frustration convinces Ovechkin the franchise and city are jinxed. He is ready to leave, most likely to the New York Rangers, and while he's still under contract, he's doing everything he can to demand a trade.
Then there is John Wall, who has been everything the Wizards dreamed of in a franchise player. He's led the Wizards to four straight post seasons and loves everything about D.C. However, his sneaker company, Reebok, is not happy with the fact that popular teammate Yi Jianlian is being called the "Great Wall of Chinatown" and not him. They have Great Wall shoes they wanted to sell.
So now Wall is seriously thinking about joining his four former Kentucky teammates DeMarcus Cousins, Patrick Patterson, Eric Bledsoe and Daniel Orton in New York, where John Calipari is the new coach. Calipari left Kentucky after winning back-to-back national titles. Both have since been vacated due to NCAA violations, but Calipari came out clean of course.
In my nightmare, it is decision day. The four free agents show up to the Greenwich, Conn., Boys and Girls Club in limousines. Reports suggest all four will join New York franchises because of the allure of playing on the biggest stage. The show is three hours long, with each athlete hearing presentations from four franchises they deem as finalists. The American Idol judges are there to scored the presentations. The production includes a talent show, fireworks and a cooking segment too. Viewers are asked to call in to vote for the finalists.
After two and a half hours, D.C and New York make the finals. The decisions are promised as they go to break. Twenty minutes later, LeBron James is on the set, ready to ask the players for their final answers.
And then ... I wake up, wondering if have I seen the future OR just an extreme example of how crazy things in pro sports could still become.