LeBron James To Announce Decision On TV

In a one-hour special on ESPN on Thursday night, NBA superstar LeBron James will announce where he is going to play next season. Melissa Block talks to Adrian Wojnarowski, NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Robert Siegel.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block.

Months of hyped rumor and speculation will finally come to an end tomorrow night. NBA superstar LeBron James will announce where he's going to play next season in an hour-long special on ESPN.

Earlier today, two other free agents, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade, confirmed that they will sign with the Miami Heat tomorrow. So the question is will LeBron join them?

Joining us to talk about these latest developments is Adrian Wojnarowski. He is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports.

Welcome to the program.

Mr. ADRIAN WOJNAROWSKI (NBA Columnist, Yahoo! Sports): Melissa, thanks for having me.

BLOCK: Let's talk about the weirdness factor here first.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: This one-hour special apparently pitched by LeBron James to ESPN and they bit. Have you ever heard of something like this before?

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: This is unprecedented on every level. You know, this free agency process with LeBron James has been treated as if just a separate entity, almost as if, you know, I started to write about it earlier calling it the Championship of Me.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: I mean, LeBron James has not won a championship. He was knocked out of the playoffs earlier than expected this year, and yet he's been planning and - for two years to build the drama toward this free agency and where he'll decide to play.

And you had a league with a lot of teams trying to clear the necessary salary cap space to go after him, and so you'll have now on Thursday night, you know, a one-man special here to at least formally declare where he's going to play.

BLOCK: Yeah, kind of a one-hour coronation of King James on ESPN.

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: Yeah. Probably more like an infomercial, but I guess they'll probably call it a special.

BLOCK: Well, what do you figure the upshot is? I mean, does this signal to you, and knowing now that Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are both set to sign with Miami, does that signal to you LeBron James is also heading to Miami? Or maybe now he's going to take the hour and explain why he's staying in Cleveland?

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: Well, those are, you know, my sources tell me those are the two primary options for him right now. The danger of what he's doing is instead of making himself a bigger star or more popular, I think he's inviting a lot of scorn. I think he's inviting a lot of resentment.

He grew up in Akron, 40 miles outside of Cleveland. He's one of their own. He's not just, you know, the greatest player in franchise history and the MVP of the league, he's from there.

And if he goes on national television to announce he's leaving, it almost kind of puts it in the face of Cleveland, the place that's been so supportive of him. It will be a devastating blow, and I think almost - particularly malicious to do it this way.

Now, if he announces he's staying, then he's staying and he'll be celebrated and he'll anger the other places.

BLOCK: Do you, personally, Adrian, feel like you have gotten tired of LeBron James?

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: Well, you know, it's - listen, he's the best player in the, you know, along with Kobe Bryant, he's the best player in the league. It's been an important story to cover. You know, the free agency, we've been covering it for two years. It's taken on a life of its own.

BLOCK: Yeah.

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: I wouldn't say tired of him because he's going to continue to be, you know, the story in the league. Whatever he decides to do now, he will -there will be as much pressure on him next year to validate all of this by winning.

And I don't know if there will ever be a player in the history of the NBA who will go into a season with more of a burden than he will next year, wherever he plays.

BLOCK: Well, I guess millions of us will be watching to see what he does.

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: No question. And that was the plan here all along, I think.

BLOCK: Well, Adrian Wojnarowski, thanks for talking with us.

Mr. WOJNAROWSKI: Melissa, thanks for having me. It's good to be with you.

BLOCK: Adrian Wojnarowski is the NBA columnist for Yahoo! Sports.

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