Alan Hahn of Newsday has a great piece this morning about how the LeBron sweepstakes, regardless of whether he signs with either team, are fostering legitimate enmity between the Knicks and the Nets. There's the billboard, the talk of "turning Knicks fans into Nets fans," the little matter of living in Brooklyn in a couple of years. The Knicks have traditionally supported the Nets' endeavors, finding them cute, watching your little brother trying to build sand castles that keep being washed away. Mikhail Prokhorov, however, isn't interested in Nets' history. He wants to overtake the Knicks right now, and he's not pretending otherwise. Whatever the result of this free-agency run, it is encouraging to see a real NBA rivalry in town. Perhaps it will elevate both sides. Maybe someday we'll have an Eastern Conference Finals Subway Series.
But first things first: Both the Knicks and Nets left their meetings feeling totally awesome, though their experiences seemed dramatically different.
In the Knicks' meeting, they talked for three hours and LeBron "was not overly talkative," which is a little disconcerting considering their meeting went almost three hours. The Nets, on the other hand, were only there an hour, and matters were "spectacular."
The Nets were extremely pleased with their showing and left feeling they are definitely in the hunt to land James when signings begin July 8. James was described as "very engaged" in the proceedings, asking questions, specifically about the ability to sign another max contract guy, such as Bosh. The Nets would need another $3 million or so.
Obviously, no one knows anything — no one knows anything! — but that certainly sounds like the Nets were snappy and to the point, and the Knicks bored the pants off LeBron. (Brian Windhorst seemed to agree.) But no one knows! Say it, over and over. They are everything, those words.
The Knicks attempted to sell LeBron on making $1.94 billion in earnings over the next five years, which is a whoa crazy number — one CNBC's Darren Rovell has enjoyed debunking on his Twitter this morning. What's most concerning, we think, is that Donnie Walsh insisted afterward that they hoped to meet with LeBron again. With LeBron set to announce his decision on Monday, and the Knicks (and Nets) meeting with Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade today, and July 4 coming on Sunday, we have no idea how that might possibly happen. So the pitch yesterday better have stuck, so well that LeBron ignores everything Miami and Chicago and the Clippers say to him today.
But no one knows.
(By the way, for amusement -- and depression -- value, check out the LeBron presentation the Knicks made. Um ... we actually like our story better. At least ours was fact-checked and didn't look like something you'd see in the conference room at the Ramada near the airport.)