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The possibility of Heat F LeBron James replacing Thunder G Derek Fisher as NBPA President was a hot topic of conversation on the afternoon sports talk shows Thursday. ESPN's Marcellus Wiley said it would be a "horrible idea," as the position is a "very thankless job." He said there is a "reason why no superstars have done this since Patrick Ewing did it in the late 90's." That begs the question of when James is "getting pulled in every single direction on and off the court, can you really devote all of your focus to this job?" ESPN's Max Kellerman said the league has "gotten the better of the players' union in the last several negotiations." Kellerman: "LeBron James as the No. 1 guy in the sport walks into a room with different weight than Derek Fisher" ("SportsNation," ESPN2, 8/1). ESPN's Bomani Jones said this is "as fascinating a LeBron story as I have heard," and a James presidency "could be really good for the players." Jones: "One thing that's worth noting about the president of the players' association: The league tends to take pretty good care of that guy. ... That's how you wind up with players wondering if there's a conflict between their union president and the league when it's time to negotiate. You won't have those problems with LeBron James because he doesn't need the NBA" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 8/1). ESPN's Michael Wilbon said it "would be good for the union and good for LeBron" ("PTI," ESPN, 8/1). SI's Andy Staples asked, "Who would be more respected by his fellow players? Who would be more respected by the owners?" ("Rome," CBS Sports Network, 8/1).
MISPLACED PRIORITIES? Columnist Kevin Blackistone commended James' "interest in electoral politics within his employment." However, he noted there are players "on the Executive Committee that have been putting in hours trying to get this thing right." Blackistone: "I think he should look into starting there rather than just try to usurp them because he's LeBron James." Dallas Morning News columnist Tim Cowlishaw said James is "in position to be one of the handful of greatest players of all-time." Cowlishaw: "He doesn't need this headache." Meanwhile, Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said the NBPA "needs an Executive Director" more than a James presidency. Paige: "They've gone months now without one, and I think even though there's not labor negotiations on the horizon, you've got to get someone there to protect the players' rights" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/1).
PART OF A GROWING LEGACY: FoxSports.com's Reid Forgrave noted serving as NBPA President would give James a "legacy that differentiates himself from Michael Jordan." Forgrave: "LeBron already has hired smart people. The people that surrounded two and three years ago were not good for his image." Staples said, "The fact that they're floating this out there shows one of the most amazing evolutions in a character in NBA history" ("Rome," CBSSN, 8/1). ESPN's Dan Le Batard said, "What I love is LeBron finding his voice, the idea of LeBron -- as he grows and grows before our eyes from a kid into a man -- taking a power position and using that power in a way that can empower his colleagues" ("Highly Questionable," ESPN2, 8/1).
Fans have long complained about “paying the same ticket prices for their preseason games as they pay for regular-season games,” but it still seems many fans “can't get enough of training camp," according to ESPN’s Darren Rovell. The Dolphins had "more empty seats than any NFL team this past season,” but more than 22,000 fans showed up to a scrimmage Monday and 46,000 fans “gave their name to the Dolphins by filling out the required registration for showing up at training camp.” That is a “lot of prospective buyers giving the team their valuable personal information." Rovell noted no NFL team charges for training camp tickets after a "failed attempt" by Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder several years ago. However, that does not mean there “isn't good money to be made in the preseason.” The Chargers are among a few teams that “limit some practices to season-ticket holders only, hoping that might lead to more fans buying season tickets" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/1).
SHAKING THINGS UP: The NFL on Wednesday announced some significant changes to the Pro Bowl format, and columnist Kevin Blackistone said it "sounds like they're putting in training camp rules" for the game. Blackistone said the idea of the captains picking the Pro Bowl teams "worked out well for the NHL, so I guess that's the page that they're stealing from." Denver Post columnist Woody Paige said, "I love the changes in the Pro Bowl, anything to get more people interested in this game." ESPN's Pablo Torre noted the NFL could "put a football on a table and point a camera at it and get ratings," but he credits the league "for being creative" ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 8/1). But CBS Sports Network's Jim Rome said the "only entertaining part of the Pro Bowl is watching the league fall on its face trying to fix it" ("Rome," CBSSN, 8/1).