Thursday, July 8, 2010

The LeBron Hour

By Tony Mangia

Everyone is all set tonight for ESPN's broadcast of The Decision: LeBron James. The King will finally let the millions of people with no lives know where he is going. There was speculation that because the show is being broadcast from Connecticut, he was going to the Knicks. Madison Square Garden is only an hour away, they reasoned. He could be going to Boston with that kind of logic. For Jay-Z's sake, Newark is only a fifteen minute PATH ride from the Garden, so he could be going to the Nets. Enough with the geography angle, the NBA season doesn't begin for three months and he has his own private jet, anyway.

Then, I reasoned Martha Stewart was even closer, so maybe he was taking that P.A. job on her show. LeBron has shown a knack for entertaining and his commercials are fan favorites. You gotta start somewhere. Finally, it dawned on me, what better way to garner a captive audience for a new show than to have a fake press conference? From unidentified sources, I've found out that---like MTV did with music videos---ESPN is eliminating sports news and will be only be showing reality shows and sit-coms. Tonight is the premier of One is Enough, LeBron's new comedy.

At first, I was angry because tonight I had my heart set on Larry King (gonna miss the old coot) and the last period of MLL All-Star game. That's the pro-lacrosse league for anyone who doesn't live on Long Island or in Maryland.


I was ready to accept the conceit and arrogance of LeBron making a spectacle of himself while breaking up with Cleveland in front of 18 million people. Most sensitive guys do it by e-mail. He was ready to draw it out for an hour on live television. Can't imagine Derek Jeter breaking the hearts of Yankee fans like that. Kevin Durant---one of the NBA's rising stars---just quietly signed five year deal with the Thunder---wherever that team plays---even Kobe Bryant was a church mouse when he opted for the Lakers six years ago. Then, I heard the wonderful news---it was all a ploy to get One is Enough off with a bang.


One is Enough, the new half-hour sit-com stars LeBron as L.B., an ex-college basketball star with a career-ending injury, who moves into the Akron, Ohio home of his grumpy high school basketball coach played by that other advertising chucker, Peyton Manning. It's guaranteed to be funnier than Dane Cook and any of the dozen Tyler Perry comedies put together. It's like The White Shadow---with less afros--- for these sports-obsessed times .

The hilarity begins when Coach's wife, Roseanne Barr---who coaches the girl's hoops team with her curious bench coach, played by Ellen DeGeneres---keeps trying to break an 129 game losing streak. Boy, is she fun to be around. L.B. has to share a bedroom with the rebellious teenage daughter, named Tiger, played by---sans bracelet---Lindsay Lohan. Sparks fly whenever L.B. tries to put his Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade posters over her pinups of Robert Pattinson. The tension is high, but they always seem to kiss and make up...a lot. More hijinks abound whenever little Nicholas', the precocious, white kid with a bowl-haircut from next store, draws L.B. into his innocent schemes, which always seem to backfire.


In tonight's episode, the Coach scolds L.B. and little Nicholas for making prank "verbal commitment" phone calls to John Calipari and Coach K. Betty White guest-stars as the brassy---and foul-mouthed---grandmother. She cheats on her husband, played by Digger Phelps, and, tonight, seduces Rick Pitino, in exchange for L.B.'s scholarship, on a dining room table inside a Kentucky BBQ.

In future episodes, more laughs ensue when Tiger gets a mispelled F**** U tattooed on her forehead and gets caught carnally recruiting prospects in a college dorm, while little Nicholas gets a life lesson, from guest star Plaxico Burress, after accidentally (or is it?) shooting an annoying recruiter, named Kiffon, played to typecast perfection by Michael Strahan. To say the least, Coach has his hands full and man, do the audibles fly.

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