By Tony Mangia
New York's LOST Weekend
The annoying buzz of vuvuzellas has been replaced by the even more irritating whine of New York sports fans. In one giant middle finger to NYC, the Rangers, Warriors and Pat Riley took pitcher Cliff Lee, Knick David Lee, and some Cavalier player named LeBron James from the spotlight of Broadway. Hey New Yorkers, suck it up. For once, the Yankees and Knicks know how Pittsburgh and Kansas City have felt for two decades. Welcome to the world of small market teams.
The only ones who should be heartbroken are the downtrodden Cleveland fans. LeBron treated those poor souls like a star jock who breaks up with his high school girlfriend at the prom. He's having a menage a trois with the homecoming queen AND the valedictorian and shoving it down the exe's throat. Stringing the naive Cleveland faithful along for months was disrespectful, but dumping them in front of 8 million was deplorable. James didn't owe the fans a contract; in fact he owed nobody, but he should have shown a little more class.
The only other thing missing, besides contrition, from The Decision: LeBron James on ESPN Thursday night was a line up of James' suitor's team caps in front of his highness, and that which one will he put on his head moment. Pity the off-spring of champion-starved fans who named their kids LeBron or LeBron and James who, after that night, face a childhood of schoolyard bullying and beat downs on Cleveland playgrounds.
The New York Knicks didn't stand a chance of bagging LeBron---especially after they sent Isiah Thomas as some kind of mercenary to lure him to Madison Square Garden. I thought there was a restraining order against him filed by the city of New York. Doesn't he a a coaching job at Florida International anyway? Shouldn't he be recruiting high school players for his real job instead of mucking things up in New York? He is---and always has been---the kiss of death for the Knickerbockers.
AND IF YOU TRY SOMETIMES, YOU TRADE WHAT YOU NEED
The Knicks betrayed their own fans by trading David Lee. Lee who has been their most consistent and popular player since Patrick Ewing was given the bums rush to San Francisco. How's that for loyalty? They get a 21 year-old unproven to compliment Amar'e Stoudemire. Stoudemire has no defense and doesn't rebound. Two things Lee does good...all-star good. There has to be some reason the Phoenix Suns didn't fight for Amar'e. Could it be they know something about his bad knee the Knicks don't know or is it that the D'Antoni system is really better suited with Steve Nash?
Even those bumbling Russian spies could have figured out that King James was headed to "South Beach" and the Knicks still crossed their fingers on landing LeBron. Speaking of those hapless Reds; I have the feeling it won't be the last we see of Anna Chapman---the sultry redhead. She has all the qualifications to become a media success in this country---good looks and a scandal. First, comes the nude spread in Playboy, then film and movie deals, a reality show and finally, a cooking or talk show. How long before this inept traitor is a contestant on Donald Trump's The Apprentice. Get 'em while they're hot baldy.
I Teardrop NY
It makes me laugh when I hear the New York media and sports radioheads claim LeBron isn't tough enough for their city. First, they went begging for the man, next they cried when he chose Miami and lastly, they gripe about it like Jersey housewives. Way to woo free-agents. A courtroom date with Lindsay Lohan has less drama. Now Knick fans and their poster boy, Spike Lee, have their eye sighted on Denver star, Carmelo Anthony next year. James showed up for Anthony's wedding on Saturday at Manhattan's Cipriani's and was jeered by the crowd. Sunday's New York Post headline blared Welcome to N.Y., Jackass next to James' photo. While Miami gloats, New York City shows its thin skin.
New Jersey (which had no chance), Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Cleveland can stamp their feet as much as they want about James not choosing their city, but there really isn't any merit to their temper tantrums. There is one thing they can all complain about---tampering. Mavericks owner, Mark Cuban, gets fined for suggesting it would be nice to have a LeBron in Dallas, but Bosh, Wade and James can meet for breakfast and joke about forming the threesome weeks ago? I bet Pat Riley was the waiter. LeBron didn't look the least embarrassed when he said he didn't make up his mind until the morning of his television announcement. Yeah, riiiiiight.
THERE'S A-ROD & FAVRE
Has anyone been more entitled than Lebron James? Starting with his high school games being broadcast on ESPN? In the end, James owed no one nothing. He had every right to go where he pleased. Ohio has no lease on his talents and the future of the Cavaliers isn't exactly bright. The team had won nothing with James. Hell, Ron Artest has more championship rings.
Still, LeBron came out looking like two other James---Jessie and Jessie. Channeling motorcycle James, LeBron has traded his long-suffering wife for a bombshell bimbo and a role as a third wheel on a custom-made trike; while robber James was a legendary outlaw. Not nice. LeBron would have been better off in the Second City. Carlos Boozer played with James and is better than Chris Bosh. James would still be the man in Chicago, while Dwayne Wade has the ring in Miami. No matter where LeBron James is, he's still Akron's own...and you'll never change that.
YANKEES LOSE TOO!
New York teams are used to getting what they want. They think its their god-given right to land every sports star on the market. In every match up against other cities, the New York media always plays the Us vs. Them angle. From culture---we have the Met---to entertainment---Broadway---to cuisine---Junior's cheese cake, whatever. New York loves to compare and conquer. Hey LeBron, I would take a Joe's Stone Crab platter in Miami over a Katz's pastrami anytime! Now, the New York Yankees, who are not used to losing---on the field or in the backrooms---get beaten to the punch by a relatively small-market team. The pinstripers get a taste of their own pine tar.
The Texas Rangers snatched Cliff Lee from the Yankees bankroll after the Seattle Mariners balked at a minor-leaguer the two teams had verbally agreed to. The only people happy about the results are the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays and Phil Hughes---who won't be banished to the bull-pen to make room for another starter. The Rangers starting rotation has been good, but the acquisition of the all-star Lee gives them a stud for the playoff run.
The Yankees starters have been dominating teams over the past few weeks. They will survive the loss of Lee and could possibly land him in the off-season. It's Joba Chamberlain who has been killing the team. He failed to protect a one-run lead against Seattle on Saturday wasting another great effort by Javier Vazquez. No wonder GM Brian Cashman vied for Lee, the Yankees need someone who can get three outs in the eighth inning.
THOSE DIRTY DUTCH
One good thing about the Netherlands losing the World Cup---besides a long-awaited come-uppence for the settlers of South Africa---is that wooden shoes will not become a fashion staple here in the U.S.. The thought of hipsters adding clacking oak Sketchers to their wardrobes and tapping up and down the sidewalks of the Lower East Side makes me yearn for vuvuzellas.
THE VOICE OF GOD GOES HOME
This weekend saw the passing of NYC legend, Bob Sheppard. The Voice of God,as Reggie Jackson once anointed him, was the announcer at Yankee Stadium for over fifty years. His sterling voice introduced the names of all Yankees from Joe DiMaggio to Mickey Mantle to Derek Jeter. Jeter recorded Sheppard's intro and still uses it to this day. I remember Sheppard announcing games at St. John's University---where he taught. If you grew up in NYC and went to a Yankee, Giants or Redmen/RedStorm game, you were a fan of Sheppard, even if he wasn't on the field. "Now batting for the Yankees, the shortstop, number 2, Derek Jeter, number 2," in Sheppard's baritone will be used at Tuesday's All-Star Game to honor the great enunciator.