A rare comment about sports.

I don’t normally want to engage in sports talk on this blog.  But, I will make an exception here.  This relates to my book, at an oblique angle.

I will share these thoughts.

— — —

This evening, the NBA held its annual draft lottery.

There are a lot of rumors that the NBA draft is fixed, through the lottery system they put in place.  Ostensibly, to deter teams who need good players, from intentionally tanking their season.

The way the lottery works is that all the bad teams are given ping-pong balls, based on standings.  The worst teams have the most balls.  But even a team that finished ahead, in the standings, has a shot at the number one pick.

Today, Cleveland got the first pick for the third time in four years.  I am now convinced the NBA manipulates the lottery to create story-lines for their league.  Three times in four years?  C’mon!

I pay attention to this, not because I am a fan of the NBA, but because I am from Cleveland.  I keep up with my home town.

What the NBA is doing is intentional.  They are competing with the NFL to be the first league to bring a championship to a city that last won something over fifty years ago.  They smell pent-up opportunity to dunk on the NFL.

Earlier this month, the NFL held its draft.  The football Browns drafted Johnny ‘Football’ Manziel, the most exciting player available.  Not necessarily the best one.  But, he did promise to pour his heart out for the town that just adopted him, to bring them a Super Bowl victory. Johnny Football has the it-factor to be a public figure, long after he retires.  And, I am not suggesting that the NFL draft is fixed.  Just the NBA.

But, the competing story-line, in the NBA, is Lebron ‘The King’ James.  He was a phenom a decade ago, set to go pro, right out of high school.  He was the biggest story of that draft, too.  A kid, ready to go number one, over all the guys from college, because his combination, of skill, size, and athleticism, was so freakish.  Guess what.  That year, Cleveland picked number one, too!

But, Lebron left for Miami because, through free agency, he had the chance to assemble a supporting cast with two of his best basketball buddies, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh.  Two other freakishly good players.  He left Cleveland, because, as a perennial loser, the basketball Caveliers were having trouble creating a supporting cast around their star.  In spite of that, Lebron still took the Cavs to the NBA Finals in 2007.  Since then, he has won two championships.  This year could be his third.  And, guess what.

The story gets better.  He’s a hometown kid, from Akron, Ohio.

Well, Lebron is set to become a free agent, this season, or next.  There are some restrictions on how this plays out, within his current contract with the Miami Heat.  And, one of the story-lines, in sports talk, is whether Lebron will return to Cleveland, on his white horse, to bring the championship he promised his home town, before heading south.

Don’t tell me Cleveland’s winning the lottery three times, in the four years since he left home, are just a coincidence.  This is the NBA, manipulating their product.  They’re allowed.  Legally, they are set up as an entertainment company, not sports.  The draft is fake, just like Holleywood.

Go Browns!