Friday, June 4, 2010

Whither LeBron?

We’re going to be hearing more and more in the next few weeks about Where LeBron Is Going — LeBron being a terrific professional basketball player and unashamed aspiring billionaire whose contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers has expired. There’s a lot of talk of his signing with the New York Knicks because they have lots of money to offer him and New York is North America’s biggest stage. There’s talk of his signing with the Chicago Bulls because they have lots of money to offer him and are whom Michael Jordan played for with such distinction in his prime. There’s talk of his signing with the Miami Heat because they have lots of money to offer him, and Dwyane Wade — who may not be able to spell Dwayne, but who’s a marvelous point guard — and the best Cuban food in the world, counting Cuba, where the common people, under the jackboot of tyrannical communists, must subsist on boiled plantain skins and cigar butts.

I would very much like to see LeBron stay in Cleveland, as he’s pretty nearly local (like Devo and the Rubber City Rebels, who were briefly popular in Los Angeles during the New Wave scare of the early 1980s, and The Pretenders, whose old hits the Woodstock-based radio station I listen to in the car because I can’t get NPR plays entirely too often, he is from Akron), and I think it’s wonderful when a professional athlete plays his or her whole career with lots of hometown fans in the stands for home games.

At the same time, of cousre, I appreciate that the Cavs have limited financial resources and few and mediocre Cuban restaurants, and that LeBron might want to become iconic in countries in which he's not known from Adam. If so, I’d very much enjoy seeing LeBron go to Hua Hin, Thailand, or Kuching, Malaysia. In the former, I suspect he’d enjoy being shrieked at by the local beauties, who are desperate to marry any foreigner they can get their hands on, every time he steps outside. There’s a surprisingly good Italian restaurant there where Claire and I took most of our meals when we visited in 2008, and a street full of Burmese, Nepalese, and Indian tailors who will kill for the privilege of making LeBron new suits in any style he chooses. He will be a neighbor of the singer Peter Gabriel, whose appeal I have never been able to fathom, and who owns a gigantic house right on the Gulf of Siam. The weather is beastly, but I don’t suppose Akron in August is any day at the beach either.

In Kuching, where the weather is even more oppressive (it’s on that part of Malaysia that shares the island of Borneo with a couple of countries whose names I’ve forgotten), there’s a fantastic sushi bar downstairs in the air-conditioned subterranean mini-mall where anyone staying at the local Hilton spends much of his or her time because it’s simply too hot and humid to go outdoors, at least before the afternoon’s torrential downpour. The sushi goes round and round in little boats on a sort of circular conveyor belt, and what fun it is to glimpse an especially delectable-looking piece heading round the bend toward you, especially in view of how very cheap it is compared to London or even Los Angeles.

When you venture out of the city, you’re apt to encounter locals in Osama bin Laden T-shirts (lots of Muslims, you see), but my understanding is that LeBron isn’t very political, so maybe it won’t bother him.

If he wants to stay closer to home, I’d suggest Nashville. They don’t presently have an NBA team, but I suspect one could be put together quite quickly if LeBron says that’s where he wants to play. I’d love their calling it the Nashville Cats, after the Lovin’ Spoonful song.

The main appeal of the city, of course, would be its iconic status as the epicenter of country music. Becoming country’s first bona fide black superstar might be every bit as stimulating a challenge for LeBron — who I have no reason to believe can sing — than winning an NBA championship, and would almost certainly involve fewer elbows to the nose. Michael Jordan won several NBA championships, and Kobe Bryant may wind up with no fewer, but has either ever recorded a duet with Reba McIntrye or Garth Brooks?

Think about it, Lee.

[Many of my books are now available for download from Amazon. They include The Total Babe & Other Wine Country Yarns, Lentils on the Moon (aka A Message From Jesus in Braille, aka A History of the Jews in the Hudson Valley, Self-Loathing: An Owner's Manual, Third World USA, The Mona Lisa's Brother, and, for baseball nuts, Foul Balls and Alpha Males. You need neither a Kindle nor an iPad to enjoy 'em; simply download (free) Kindle software for either Mac or Windows, and enjoy them on your laptop or other computer!]

No comments:

Post a Comment