Touching several bases:
The buzz in Cleveland is understandable, but I’d still be surprised to see LeBron James bolt Miami and return to the Cavaliers.
Of course I’ve been wrong before, so here are three reasons it could happen:
■ With Kyrie Irving and top draft pick Andrew Wiggins locked up for five years, some other good young talent, and potentially three first-round draft picks next year, the Cavs could convince James that he’d be the cherry on top of the NBA’s most upwardly-mobile young team over the next several years.
■ The Cavs have trade options that would open up enough cap space to give LeBron a max contract, estimated to be at $20.7 million per year. ESPN reported recently that James has never been the highest-paid player on any of his teams, which, if true, is rather astounding.
■ He took his talent to South Beach, as he once put it, and won rings. If the next step is creating a legacy, his hometown team is the place to do it.
I’ve occasionally been right before, too, so here are three reasons it won’t happen:
■ James has yet to meet face-to-face with Pat Riley, the man who turned the Heat into a juggernaut by meshing LeBron, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh. Riley has already added 6-10 Josh McRoberts, one of the best passing big-men in the NBA, as an inducement to keep the Big Three together.
■ The Spurs got to the Heat in the recent NBA finals, but Miami is still on the cusp of being a dynasty. James may see that as a fitting legacy and, in the meantime, decide not to cut, run, and leave his buddy D-Wade out to dry.
■ Dan Gilbert. They say time heals all wounds, but maybe not. When LeBron left the Cavs, the owner bad-mouthed him and questioned his character in an open letter that could still be found on the team’s Web site until a couple weeks ago. They’ve never kissed and made up, perhaps even spoken, since.
106.5 The Ticket
What 106.5 The Ticket (WLQR-FM) is doing, basically, is farming out its high school sports coverage to Bill Clark’s Courtside Productions. He’ll pay a flat fee for air time, sell his own advertising, and realize all net proceeds. For the Cumulus station, it means guaranteed revenue in the Friday night prep slot without its sales staff having to worry about, well, selling.
That’s all OK. It’s business. Clark does a nice job producing games and is a pro doing play-by-play.
But every action has a reaction; in this case two reactions.
First, broadcasting only Central Catholic football games is kicking sand in the face of all other metro high schools.
Secondly, it’s a lousy way for the station to deal with its local voice, Norm Wamer, who has been doing the prep play-by-play in football and basketball for more than a dozen years and who has told me many times that it is his favorite part of radio work.
Of course, The Ticket paid Wamer to do it on top of his sports-talk duties.
Now, Clark will be paying the station.
The passing of Ernie Ball
Errie Ball died earlier this month at age 103 in Florida. The name may not mean anything to most, but it resonates with golf historians.
A member of the PGA of America for 83 years, Ball was the last survivor of the 72 players in the 1934 field for the first Augusta National Invitation Tournament, which we now know as the Masters.
Contact Blade sports columnist Dave Hackenberg at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6398.