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The Score - Anthony Schoettle

Welcome to The Score, your place for hard-hitting sports business news, fast-breaking updates and fuel-injected debate.  Buckle up.  I'm your host, Anthony Schoettle, IBJ sports reporter.

Sports Business

Will LeBron hype pump up Pacer pride?

July 8, 2010
KEYWORDS Sports Business

This morning, I get to hear former NBA player and ESPN analyst Tim Legler talk about how NBA players feel about LeBron James’ summer free agency campaign.

He explained there are three camps; Those players that don’t care, those that are interested and understand the hype, and those that are jealous.

Isn’t Legler missing the larger question. What about the fans? What do they think and how will this affect the ticket-buying public? And not just fans in Cleveland, New York and Miami. How about Indiana Pacers fans?

They say any publicity is good publicity. And it’s true, I can’t remember a summer where we’ve talked more about NBA basketball. Still, part of me wonders if all this publicity is all good.

Will it light a fire under Indiana hoops faithful to get in the game and fill Conseco Fieldhouse this fall? Or will it just plain burn them out?

I, for one, would probably skip the one-hour Lebron-a-thon on ESPN tonight if I were not a sports business reporter. Really, do we need a one-hour special show for LeBron to tell us if he’s staying with the Cleveland Cavaliers or going who knows where? The James gang is even selling sponsorships for the broadcast. Holy cow! At least the sponsorship money is reportedly going to charity. Reportedly.

But it’s difficult to deny, that in some respects all this is enough to make your stomach turn. I can’t imagine anyone in this market enjoyed seeing the N.Y. Knicks’ Donnie Walsh chase LeBron around like a love-sick teen-age girl after Justin Bieber.

Walsh is a guy who always wore a serious face when he was president and GM of the Pacers, now he’s at the center so much silliness. Walsh was nothing if not serious and earnest in his efforts to bring Indiana an NBA title.

Of course, Legler thinks all of this craziness is just great for the sport. Having lived my whole life here, I’m not so sure it will have such a positive impact in Indy, which as far as I can tell is still pretty fiscally conservative. When we're talking about players earning $10 million to $20 million annually during the biggest economic swoon since the depression, it's hard not to get a little queasy.

Unless, that is, LeBron shocks the world and comes out in a Pacers jersey. In that case, let the good times roll.
 

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