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Waiting for LeBron

March 9, 2014 - Zach Baker
Rumors. Where would our lives be without them?

All journalists, and I really believe most people, see true value in facts and realities.

But facts and realities are often dull.

And while I try to avoid rumors in coverage and in columns, rumors and sports media go together like Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell on a Motown record.

Rumors in sports are like high school crushes (or, at least, MY high school crushes): fun but often unrealistic.

So why do rumors interest us?

Because, frankly, rumors are almost never dull.

Such as the one that ran through northwest Ohio earlier this week. I first heard it from a friend who doesn't live and has never lived in this area.

The text I received went something like this:

"Some guy called in a radio station and said LeBron James is coming to Tiffin for a basketball camp Saturday."

Now, to say I didn't take this particular bit of information seriously is an understatement.

I mean, it's not like I've never been misled by "some guy," but... come on. LeBron coming to Tiffin just seemed unrealistic to me.

And yet, the rumors started spreading.

"LeBron's son will be playing in the Best of the Best Basketball tournament in the Heminger Center."

"LeBron's driving up before the Cavs game."

"LeBron is going to re-sign with the Cavaliers."

OK, the third one still is the most unrealistic to me.

But still, as skeptical as I was -- even though it seemed like 1,000-to-1 shot-- the rumors were loud enough that I got up Saturday morning, and co-worker Jill Gosche and I went to the tournament just to see.

After all, let's just say the biggest basketball star in the world comes to our town, and I'm not there. I couldn't let that happen.

In my head, I had an interview all set up with LeBron James in my head.

"What's it like to see young kids so dedicated to basketball?"

"Do you miss playing in Ohio?"

"I can't help but notice these fourth graders don't have a problem playing in sleeves."

Would I tell him I'd written two separate columns ripping him for the way he left my beloved Cavaliers?

Would I tell him I'd pretty much let it go and wanted him to play in Cleveland again?

Did I realize what a waste of time all this thought was?

As it turned out, LeBron never arrived. It reminded me of the Christopher Guest film "Waiting for Guffman," where the film revolves around a group of small-time actors putting on an original play that is supposed to get an audience with a big shot broadway producer.

In the film, a man arrives, sits in Guffman's seat, but the actual producer never shows.

Brad Lonsway, who ran the tournament, said on Saturday there was a "one percent chance" LeBron would have come. He does sponsor teams that were at the tournament, but he doesn't -- as far as we could tell -- have any family members on the team.

But again, we had to see. You never know.

It was a rumor that ended as most rumors do.

But sometimes the whispers get so loud, you have to check them out.

And hey, there were some pretty good ballplayers there Saturday.

Maybe we saw the next LeBron, we just didn't know it.

Nothing like a good rumor.


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