Why LeBron-mania is bad for basketball

On the night when the Washington Wizards won the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery, the news heading into Tuesday wasn’t about what team would win the John Wall sweepstakes — but would the University of Kentucky point guard be playing alongside LeBron James.

Welcome to LeBron-mania.

As Cavalier fans exhaled as the New Jersey Nets, one of the frontrunners in the race to sign LeBron James, landed the third pick in the 2010 NBA Draft, the buzz around James is at an all-time high.

With 42 days and counting before the coveted free agent class of 2010 can sign on July 1, the hoopla and public pleas for James are even overshadowing a dismal NBA Playoffs to date.

Across the country, grassroots campaigns are sprouting one by one to lure James to their respective city. It started in New York City with Scores gentleman club offering James free lap dances for life if he signed with the Knicks.

Just in the past week, here’s a recap of what cities are doing in lobbying for James:

In Los Angeles, Clipper fans are planning a “Bring LeBron to the L.A. Clippers” parade on May 27 before Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals at L.A. Live, across the street from Staples Center.

In New York City, besides from the free lap dances, the New York Daily News has launched www.getlebron.com to lobby for the hometown Knicks. Even Mayor Michael Bloomberg has made a public plea, “I love living in New York, my kids love living in New York. I think LeBron James would love living in New York and it is the world’s greatest stage.”

In Chicago, along with www.sendlebrontochicago.com, President Obama is doing his part in order to save a Bulls franchise that has been searching for an identity since Michael Jordan left in 1998.

“He doesn’t want to tamper,” Senior Political Adviser David Axelrod told ESPN last Friday. “But as a Chicago fan, the president thinks LeBron would look great in a Bulls uniform.”

And in Cleveland, www.pleasedontleave23.com are asking Cavalier fans to write a letter to James sharing their favorite LeBron moment and what it would be like (miserable) if he left.

There has never been this much attention surrounding one player in NBA history.

Not Kobe.

Not Magic.

Not Bird.

Hell, not even Michael Jordan could get the governor of Illinois to sing in a YouTube video like Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland did for James.

All this for a player, who despite his back-to-back NBA Most Valuable Player awards, has zero championship rings and came up short when it mattered the most this year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Boston Celtics.

How much attention is too much before the resentment begins towards James?

We heard whispers of it after the Cavaliers lost to the Orlando Magic in the 2009 NBA Playoffs and it gained momentum after a disappointing showing in this year’s playoffs, allegedly because of an elbow injury. Whether you like him or not, it’s laughable that you can call a player averaging 27.8 points, 7.1 rebounds and 7.0 assists for a career overrated.

James will never be able to live up to the hype that’s been generated during his seven seasons in the NBA. If he wins a NBA championship, the critics will want to know when he will win his second and so on.

And with each passing season James doesn’t win his first championship, the more criticism the 25-year-old will be forced to deal with in today’s vicious 24/7 news cycle.

What goes up must come down, and the attention surrounding James will ultimately hurt his legacy in the end.

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