They are jumping with joy in Cleveland, baby! Can you blame them? It's LeBron mania, and he's coming to Cleveland!
The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the NBA draft lottery and secured the No. 1 pick. Owner Gordon Gund has to be ecstatic knowing that he can select high-school phenom LeBron James and suit him up in a Cavs uniform come September. This is reminiscent of the old days, when the NBA had the territorial draft and the local players played before their home fans.
The Cavs have to be celebrating big-time knowing that their guy is coming 50 miles up the road from Akron, Ohio (LeBron's hometown).
Ticket sales will be unbelievable in Cleveland as the phone goes off the hook with the news of LeBron going to the Cavs. Hey, I want to call right now. I want to see LeBron, baby!
Will he be the franchise savior? Will the Cavaliers surround him with enough talent that he can utilize his great passing skills? Cleveland has some interesting young talent in Ricky Davis, Dajuan Wagner, Darius Miles, Carlos Boozer, Smush Parker, DeSagana Diop and Zydrunas Ilgauskas.
The past few days have been a whirlwind for LeBron, starting with a sneaker agreement with Nike worth an estimated $90 million. Think about that!
I remember my first sneaker deal -- I got a few pairs of free shoes and a warm-up suit from Converse. I was ecstatic about it back then! Isn't it amazing to get that much money just for wearing sneakers?
Sonny Vaccaro of adidas and writer Dan Wetzel were on the outstanding show "Outside the Lines" with Bob Ley the other night, talking about the shoe business. They explained life in that area and how incredible the influence of the companies is. In the end, as Vaccaro admitted, it was a two-man race between Nike and Reebok.
Vaccaro made a statement that you either have "it" or you don't, and LeBron clearly has "it." It's difficult to explain, but James has it -- that special charisma, that flair, that ability to really excite people. You can be sure that Nike's Phil Knight and George Raveling aren't laying out that kind of cash without the thought they will make it back. LeBron's shoes will go right off the rack -- teenagers and youngsters will flock to them.
Many guys haven't connected in the world of the shoe business -- just look at Shaq and Kobe. But Allen Iverson has clicked.
It will be interesting to see how LeBron mania keeps going and growing. As Vaccaro said, if there's anyone who can handle the pressure and scrutiny of this situation -- and there will be a target on James as he puts on the NBA uniform -- it's the young man from St. Vincent-St. Mary.
People will evaluate his every move. Something tells me we're seeing the beginning of a special superstar who has the whole package. The LeBron phenomenon will continue to grow. Ticket sales will be unbelievable in Cleveland as the phone goes off the hook with the news of LeBron going to the Cavs. Hey, I want to call right now. I want to see LeBron, baby!
The Detroit Pistons were big winners in the draft lottery, too! Poor Jerry West. The Memphis Grizzlies' GM almost got LeBron. Instead, Memphis lost the No. 2 pick due to a trade done six years ago that sent Otis Thorpe from Detroit to the then-Vancouver Grizzlies.
Detroit really lucked out, and now the Pistons are in great shape at No. 2. If I were GM Joe Dumars, I would go with Carmelo Anthony in that slot. Remember, years ago the Pistons did pretty well taking another Syracuse player named Dave Bing! King Anthony has great skills, and he showed how he makes his teammates better in helping Syracuse win the national championship.
The June 26 draft is right around the corner. It should be a special night, just like Thursday was for LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers.