Open Letter to the NY Daily News


Dear Daily News:

I think everyone who’s an NBA fan is well aware that LeBron James is going to become a free agent at the end of this season. The summer of 2010 may be the most ballyhooed free agent class in the history of the NBA, which has already captured the imaginations of fans of teams who have cap room opening up after the season. This includes two teams that you cover regularly, the Knicks and the Nets.

So it’s with that in mind, I question both the concept and the placement of your “Countdown to LeBron” graphic, which you’ve been running since training camp opened last week. Counting down to something that everybody knows is coming and is about a year away seems a bit frivolous. I’m sure Macy’s is very excited about the holiday shopping season this year, but walking by Herald Square in the morning, I don’t see any “Countdowns to Christmas” signs in the front window. They’re just stocking the shelves with Christmas paraphernalia – just as the Daily News could probably ingratiate itself to its readers if they mention LeBron’s pending free agency when it’s relevant, which I just don’t think it is in October 2009.

countdownThen there’s the fact that your countdown graphic is only running next to stories about the Knicks. So by doing this, are you suggesting that this information is only relevant to Knicks fans, because I disagree. That Nets team you usually cover on a day-to-day basis may not be the most popular one in their current New Jersey residence, but they’re working to change that. While they’re doing that, they’re also going to have a ton of cap space – even more than the Knicks – available at the end of the season. I know this may sound preposterous to you, because I know you’re “New York’s Number One Newspaper,” and who in their right mind would ever turn down an opportunity to play basketball in Manhattan. But did you ever consider that the Nets could make a run for LeBron? Consider this: the Nets have so much cap space next year, they could sign LeBron AND another top-tier free agent. So LeBron will likely have the option to play on a team that has Devin Harris, Brook Lopez AND another top free agent, like Chris Bosh, or Dwayne Wade, or Amare Stoudamire, along with a few nice role-players like Courtney Lee and Terrence Williams. Or he could go play every day next season with Wilson Chandler, Eddy Curry and Danilo Gallinari. And maybe David Lee if the Knicks ever decide to sign him long-term which they clearly didn’t want to this season because they’re pinching their pennies for the “Summer of LeBron.”

So, maybe a compromise would be to run the countdown graphic next to both Knicks and Nets articles, though that brings us back my original issue. Is any of this really relevant? If you’re really going to starting counting down to the end of the season, you might want to familiarize your readers with the “Larry Bird exception,” which allows teams to exceed the salary cap to retain their own free agents. So unless the Cavs are going to dump LeBron to the Knicks or Nets during the regular season for a bunch of expiring contracts like Darko Milicic or Tony Battie, chances are slim to none that LeBron bolts Cleveland. The same goes for Dwayne Wade and Miami, so don’t go photoshopping him into the graphic in place of LeBron.

On a final note, I understand that as someone who lives in New York, but roots for a team from New Jersey, there are just dynamics that will go unchanged – the Knicks should and will get more attention from the NYC-area media than the Nets. But running a “Countdown to LeBron” graphic next to Knicks articles while the Nets – a team your paper covers – has as much of a chance to sign him as New York does, just reeks of amateurism and rah-rah cheerleading for the “hometown” team. Once you get off the editorial/op-ed page, newspapers are supposed to be the last bastion for professional and impartial reporting. If I wanted to read about grown men in cubicles fantasizing about LeBron in a Knicks uniform, I’ll just check out one of the countless Knicks fan sites on the Internet.