At 8:55 p.m. EST, ESPN's Lebron Panel of Stuart Scott, Mike Wilbon, Chris Broussard, and someone in a thick coat of orange makeup who I believe was John Barry, huddled close together in breathless anticipation.
"Chris," said Stu Scott, leaning in tight. "What is the very latest. Right now, this minute." Just in case you couldn't wait five minutes until, you know, the actual announcement of where Lebron is going to play basketball "in this fall" as James himself ultimately put it. "My heart says Cleveland. My sources say Miami," Broussard replied, before completely undermining his "sources." "But you can't count out Chicago and New York." Yes, this was some ridiculous television, and yes, of course we watched it. Might I remind you that we also sometimes watch the Bachelorette, and occasionally live blog it.
Let's break down some excerpts of the ensuing scintillating back and forth between LBJ and Jim Grey, after the jump.
The backdrop was the Boys & Girls Club of Greenwich, CT and a live audience of what appeared to be authentic boys and girls, a picture that said "I am doing this for the children." That's all this has ever been about for Lebron: the six city tour, the accompanying media circus, the one-hour prime-time television extravaganza. All for the children. That being established, Grey, long known for not being at all awkward, launched his opening query.
JG: Ready to go, Lebron? Where's the powder?
LBJ: I left it at home. Heh, heh. I left it.
JG: So what's new? What's been going on with you this summer?
LBJ: Man, this whole free agent, um, experience, uh, I'm looking forward to it.
Lebron's "team" panicking behind the scenes. Does he not realize this is actually the end of the free agent experience? Worldwide Wes gets the ESPN producer on the line: "Go to commercial! Go to *&%ing commercial!" Too late.
JG: What have you thought about this process?
LBJ: Um, this process has been everything I've thought, and more. And you know, that's what I did a few years ago. I put myself in a position to have this, this process.
Boy and girls in audience begin to shift uncomfortably in their seats.
JG: Have you enjoyed this recruiting process now?
LBJ: Well, you know, I have enjoyed it. It's been an unbelievable experience, a real humbling experience to be in this position.
It is humbling when your team orchestrates a primetime special for you to announce where you've decided to play basketball and said announcement garners more media attention than the BP oil spill and the Gulf and Afghanistan wars combined. So true.
JG: How many people know your decision right now?
LBJ: Not many. It's a very small number. I could probably count it on my fingers.
This small number evidently does not include Chris Broussard's "sources" or Mike Wilbon's additional "sources," who, Wilbon admits, are not as good as Broussard's "sources," but who agree with Broussard's "sources" that Lebron is going to Miami. Oh, Orange Tan John Barry has some of his own sources. Stu Scott heard something from somebody. Beyond that, we're talking about a small number.
JG: How deep of an evaluation do you have to do to go through that, to figure out tomorrow, next year, and beyond, that winning?
LBJ: Well, one thing you can't control is, you never know.
JG: Would you like to sleep on it a little longer or are you ready to make this decision?
LBJ: Ah, I've slept enough. Or, the lack of sleep.
Both: [Nervous laughter]
JG: You still a nailbiter?
LBJ: Uh, I have a little bit. Not of late.
JG: Well, you've had everybody else biting their nails, so I guess it's time for them to stop chewing. The answer to the question everybody wants to know. Lebron, what's your decision?
LBJ: Um, in this fall - this is very tough - um, in this fall, I'm gonna take my talents to South Beach. And um, join the Miami Heat.
I'm taking my talents to get something to eat. Be right back. From now on, wherever I go, I'm taking my talents.
JG. The Miami Heat. That was the conclusion you woke up with this morning.
LBJ: That was the conclusion I woke up with this morning.
That's what you concluded? You're saying that's your conclusion. OK, so this is over? Stu, do we have anything left to talk about? What's that? Yes, I'm told that's the conclusion he woke up with this morning. OK. Lebron, we're going to do another 90 minutes breaking down your conclusion. Stand by for a post-interview Q&A with Wilbon. You're the King.