Saturday, July 08, 2006

Our Long Regional Nightmare Is Over

LeBron has accepted his 5-year, $80 million contract extension.

I don't know about everyone else, but I wasn't getting too worked up about this. LeBron had said all along that he wanted to sign the extension, and it had only been a week since the offer was made. I realize Cleveland franchises have been screwed over by athlete promises before, so a little nervousness was to be expected, but I wouldn't have doubted that he was going to sign the deal unless he remained silent on it for a couple more weeks.

All the articles (such as this one from the Sports Guy) that talk about how LeBron needs to go to New York, L.A., or Chicago to maximize his popularity just seem silly to me. This might have been true 25 years ago, but is there anyone in America who doesn't know as much about LeBron as they want to know? These aren't the days where all your information comes from three network TV channels and your local newspaper. Cable TV and the internet have made it possible to follow a player from anywhere in the country, if not the world. If someone anywhere in the country wants to know about LeBron, they can watch SportsCenter, read, and see the occasional game on ABC or ESPN. If they want more, they can read the Plain Dealer online, subscribe to the NBA's cable package, and read blogs. Nowadays, it's easy to see enough of LeBron to recognize him when he's selling shoes, gum, sports drinks, or anything else. And it's not much more difficult to become an obsessed fan anywhere in America.

Would LeBron's exposure be higher if he was in L.A., New York, or Chicago? Sure. It's easier to be in the media spotlight when you live where the major media live. But now, LeBron gets to be the favorite player on the favorite team of an entire state of roughly 12 million people and still get all the media attention he needs. And that's not so bad.

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