ESPN.com today about LeBron's decision to accept the MVP trophy in his hometown, and what that might mean. Broussard's take: LeBron is staying. I tend to agree. I tend to think that outwardly, more than any major sports star in recent memory, LeBron is something of an unmitigated goofball; whereas Jordan generally embraced showmanship when it contributed toward his cold and mercenary aims, LeBron--perhaps even moreso than Magic--is willing to embrace showmanship purely for the sake of narrative tension. (That's why no one would be truly surprised if LeBron's elbow injury is, in fact, a ruse to render this postseason more interesting.) LeBron is one of the first megastars of the reality television era, and I tend to think this whole free-agency gimmick is a way to build up the narrative stakes. I tend to believe that LeBron wants, in his heart, to re-sign with Cleveland; I tend to believe that the only way he signs somewhere else is if Cleveland somehow (idiotically) forces his hand or otherwise "disrespects" him*, and he has no choice but to go elsewhere in order to maintain his dignity.
Honestly, I lived in Akron for five years and I heard only one other person speak about Akron the way LeBron did in his press conference. That person is my friend David (who wrote this excellent book), and David has lived his whole life in Akron, and at this point, I can't imagine him ever leaving. If LeBron stays, even if he never wins a championship, he immediately becomes the most beloved athlete in the history of one of the most storied sports towns in America, a place where sporting success really does subsume everything. In New York, in Los Angeles, in Chicago, he becomes another cog in the machine. And in LeBron's head, I don't think that narrative is nearly as compelling.**
*What exactly I mean by this, I'm not sure. I just know contract negotiations are odd things.
**Disclaimer: Just in case you're reading this in November 2010, and LeBron is playing in a backcourt with Derrick Rose, let me state: I could be competely wrong about all of this.
(Photo: Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty Images)