July 8, 2010
Tomorrow night at 9 PM ET a guy who has never won a championship in anything since high school will command the attention of the entire sports universe. As much as I'd love to knock Bron-Gate, I have to admit, I'm semi-intrigued. It's almost impossible to not be. I'm a complete sucker for sports radio and...as the disgruntled Dan Patrick refers to it...
"The Mothership" in Bristol. It's a guilty pleasure enjoying this fiasco...the kind of thing you follow, but don't really talk about much...like Twilight.
(wait a minute)
Part of what I love about the Lebron mess is how un-hockey it is. I love the contrast. Take anyone on skates...any vehicle in Gary's prized marketing stable of gay unicorns...and even that guy...even Sid or Ovie couldn't possibly create the kind of shitstorm we're seeing right now in Cleveland. It wouldn't fit the game's profile. The closest thing we've seen is the Gretz/Edmonton presser, but I file that in a different drawer because that wasn't some contrived marketing bullshit.
The ultimate example is what's going on with Mike Modano...who I can't wait to come up with a nickname for. And no, "Mo" won't due around these parts where a glossary and a decoder ring seem increasingly applicable.
If this were the NBA, there would be 15 montages every day on ESPN about the aging American-born stud returning to his homeland...to the team that haunted him throughout his career...for one last run at greatness. There would be slow-motion shots of Livonia and the rink Modano played in as a youth. They would interview all of his former coaches, his teammates and that chick who gave him his first handie in the back of a roughed up Plymouth Laser.
...but that's not the route this awesome storyline has taken. Instead, we're talking about numbers...and fit...and shuffling a few lines to make way for a great player that we'd all like to see come home. I'm not saying there's a direct comparison between a kid on his way up and an icon on his way out...in two sports that couldn't be any more different...but this IS one of those moments where those of us who self-identify as hockey fans should be proud.
Substance over style. Steak of sizzle.
No matter how many promos about Thid's washing machine the league turns out, this will always be the league where there is so much more under the surface than we'll ever know. This is a game of lingering knee injuries that wait until the offseason...5 am practices for 10 year old kids...and "everyman" moments that never show up in 30 second ad buys. No matter how high you jack up the "daiquiri seat" prices, this will always be a game that belongs to the guy who works his ass of all day to put food on the table for his kids...to the woman who works a double shift at a job she hates...to the kid who has talent in abundance but chooses to remain a kid instead of turning into a walking billboard.
The contrast between LeBron and LeModano is gives us a moment to appreciate the awesome cultural differences between these two massive sports. It's a contrast that, as a hockey fan, I'm proud to call out.