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With just a few hours to go until The Decision, the live, hour-long ESPN special during which free agent LeBron James will announce, um, his decision, NBA fans continue to read the tea leaves. And the "KingJames" Twitter feed.
So far as I know, Paul, Oberhausen's clairvoyant octopus, has not been asked to predict where where James will land -- New York, New Jersey, Chicago, Miami, or Cleveland. But other folks have.
According to the DealBook, "Wall Street's bulls are betting that LeBron James ends up playing basketball in New York, not Chicago."
Shares in Madison Square Garden, the owners of the Knicks, jumped $1.30, or 6.4 percent, to close at $21.57 Wednesday, adding 3 cents in extended trading. Volume was up dramatically at 1.7 million trades, more than five times the daily average of 311,000.
A few months ago, Adrian Wojnarowski, a columnist for Yahoo! Sports, warned Cleveland fans about the relationship between James and Jay-Z, part-owner of the Nets:
[Cavaliers officials] have been uneasy witnesses to a dance between James and Jay-Z, a bond between a generation’s most celebrated entertainer and athlete. These two spend a lot of time together -- traveling, talking and sharing big ideas. What’s unnerving to Cleveland is that Jay-Z happens to be a part owner of the New Jersey Nets with unlimited access to James’ heart, mind and ambitions.
And no Brooklyn means no chance at LeBron James. Brett Yormark, the Nets chief executive, said yesterday that if the team doesn't break ground on the controversial Atlantic Yards project by the end of the year, then it is dead.
Yesterday, President Obama weighed in, trying to tip the scales in the direction of the Windy City:
"I think the president still believes that he would look quite good in a Bulls uniform," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. "I hope that does not lead to NBA tampering charges."
On Twitter, Chris Bosh, who signed with Miami, wrote this: "I see ESPN has a name for the show tomorrow... "The Decision". I know I'm going to watch it! #freeagency continues..."
Is that a sign that there is still hope, from Bosh and teammate Dwyane Wade, that James may join them in The 305?
"Literally overnight, the Miami Heat became the most interesting, most famous, most envied, most targeted, most talented and most feared basketball team on the planet," The Miami Herald's Dan Le Batard begins. "It would appear, by all indications and late-night reports stretching from ESPN to Newsday, that gangster Pat Riley has somehow landed LeBron James, too."
Greedy and gluttonous and totally insatiable, he has reportedly persuaded three stars to align in sharing the ball, the stage, the glory and the championships.
For someone of his unique commercial standing, taking out an hour of live TV makes sense only if he's going to declare loyalty to his hometown and celebrate his desire above all else to win a championship for Cleveland. An announcement like this is meant to help James' image -- not damage him -- which is why I view it as a sign he'll remain with the Cavaliers.
Paul, my eight-tentacled friend, you want to weigh in here?
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