By Michael Felger
A six-pack of hotnot for your viewing pleasure.
The more that comes out regarding LeBron James' "decision," the more you realize that if there was any one mastermind in the whole affair, it was the Heat president followed closely by Dewayne Wade.
To me, the most telling detail from Brian Windhorst's terrific story over the weekend involved Riley getting James together with Michael Jordan for a face-to-face meeting last November in Miami. It was after this meeting that James announced he was changing his jersey number from Jordan's 23, saying that all players should do the same out of respect for former Bulls' great.
Was it tampering? Not technically. Riley was just arranging a dinner between two people in his circle. Riley reportedly feels that more modern players should pay "homage" to Jordan and that was the deal. Presumably, it had nothing to do with James joining the Heat.
But the fact that James renounced Jordan's number so dramatically THAT NIGHT shows you that Riley had gained entre into James' decision-making process. Riley became a broker of sorts, laying the foundation for what was to come eight months later.
Perhaps Riley got sick of watching Phil Jackson further cement himself in Los Angeles. Maybe Riley got nostalgic watching all the Celtics-Lakers stuff the last few years. But it's clear the former Lakers coach wanted back in the game.
And so he is.
Duh. I happen to think James is getting more heat than is warranted (he couldn't win, regardless of where he decided to go and how he decided to do it), but there's no question he took a tremendous hit last Thursday night. And it will only get worse until he wins a championship. Just ask A-Rod. Or Kobe (post-Shaq).
The irony is that James is merely fulfilling the destiny David Stern created. Stern's league values the individual over the team. It cares more about the show than the substance. So it was really just a matter of time before a guy like James came along. You think Stern is disgusted by what he saw last Thursday? Au contraire. It's his new model.
He was right and we were wrong. Simple as that. We take everything back.
Unless he craps the bed in the second half, of course. Then we were right all along.
Ok, Jacoby. We got it. The ribs were broken, not bruised. There was a broken rib in back that the team missed. We believe you.
But we also believe you when you say all the broken ribs were suffered in that initial collision with Adrian Beltre on April 11. And that means it's taken you 13 weeks (and counting) to recover from an injury that usually takes around 4-6.
From a PR standpoint, I think you would have been better off saying you suffered that posterior break when you returned May 22 in Philadelphia. Then we'd be able to reset the clock from that time and say you've now missed only seven weeks (and counting) since you cracked another rib.
But, apparently, you're more interested in showing people you got shoddy treatment from the Sox' medical staff. And saying the Sox missed the initial break makes them look worse no doubt about it.
There's only one problem with that: It makes you look worse, too.
Thirteen weeks (and counting), Jacoby.
Television ratings for the World Cup were up across the board this summer, with Sunday's Spain-Netherlands final ending up as the most-watched soccer match in U.S. history. Here in Boston, the game beat the Red Sox in terms of households and crushed the Sox in the unofficial category of eyeballs, since so many people watched the soccer in bars or as part of viewing parties.
To me, the numbers represent, for the first time in decades, legitimate traction for the sport here in the states.
And the Americans failed to take advantage of it.
Making the knockout round got our attention (the U.S.-Ghana game stands as the second-most watched game in U.S. history), and then came the letdown. American soccer could have used one more win, one more week of build up.
So what if more people were interested in the patriotism than the sport? They had us. And they blew it.
E-mail Felger HERE and read his mailbag on Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.