During the NBA’s offseason it can be tricky to come up with meaningful columns week in and week out. There just hasn’t been much movement. No new data to analyze, trades to criticize, or quotes to overanalyze. Luckily though, some news this week provided an exciting idea. On Tuesday, several news outlets reported something we’ve all been waiting for since the minute we found out LeBron James was entering the NBA Draft straight from high school: King James is making a sitcom.
Well, it’s not exactly the news we’ve been waiting for. What we really wanted to hear was that LeBron was going to star in a sitcom. Ever since Fox cancelled Brothers, I’ve been waiting for the next great athlete-driven comedy, or at least a summer blockbuster like this or this.
According to the report from ESPN, LeBron’s sitcom “will explore the lives of two men from the streets who attain fame -- one is an NBA star and one is not -- and how they deal with friends and families in the wake of that success.”
Wow. So many questions, so much to talk about, so much to decide. Here are my five most pressing issues:
5. How graphic will the show get? The report goes on to inform us that the show is under development at the Starz network (Not necessarily a great sign, as they recently couldn’t even keep the stellar and critically-acclaimed Boss on the air). Non-network TV means just about anything is on the table. The show is based on LeBron’s life, but might they rip other sports headlines a la Law and Order and incorporate them into the story? Maybe LeBron’s character gets caught up in a brutal dog-fighting ring, or becomes buddies with a certain ex-Patriots tight end, or maybe he just smuggles a gun into a night club and it goes off in his waistband.
Or, a bit less dramatically, will we get to see a ladies’ man-style LeBron character with “roadkill” at every road game? Maybe we even get to see a fight between the top girlfriend and the secondary girlfriend. This could be a great opening episode. The LeBron character’s main girlfriend from back home decides to “surprise” visit him at his next road game. Meanwhile, he’s already given the “girlfriend tickets” away to his local flavor. Hilarity ensues.
4. The little blurb states that the show will feature two men who make it big. What will the other one do? Is he an actor? Comedian? Businessman? A different sort of pro athlete?
Equally as important, will they go with the matching buddy formula or the mismatching buddy formula? Both have been successful in the past. I favor going the mismatch route. The show is purportedly going to be primarily a comedy. There’s just too many easy jokes to be made if LeBron’s best buddy is a tiny world famous trapeze artist, a nerdy tech mogul, or a weasely character actor. Imagine a LeBron-Bill Gates show, or a LeBron-Woody Allen show. I’m in.
3. How realistic will the show be? Again, it’s going to be a sitcom, which can really run the gamut of plausibility. Will there be a Dwyane Wade character? A Pat Riley? Or, dare I say it, a Skip Bayless?
Will the LeBron character get drafted by his hometown team and then be forced to leave? Will it chronicle any psychological struggles and the hardship that goes along with losing? If they wanted to, they could make this “sitcom” pretty dark. It could never be Oz, but it could get pretty real if they wanted it to.
2. Well, if LeBron isn’t going to star, then who is? Someone has to play the LeBron character. Who?
Here’s my top five choices in no particular order:
Wood Harris—underused since The Wire. I loved Avon Barksdale and he’s demonstrated some basketball ability in a few of his roles. Downside is he might be a little old. James is 28 and Harris is 44. He doesn’t look that old, but the show will likely start when LeBron is only 18 or 19, right?
Marlon Wayans—already made the buddy show work with his real brother. He also has some real basketball cred with his role in the classic, The Sixth Man. Again, age could be a problem though, as Wayans is 41.
Anthony Mackie—just sort of underrated and shouldn’t be. Maybe he just hasn’t had a breakout role yet. This could be it. He’s also starring in the upcoming Captain America and Avengers movies. Crossover potential?
Brandon T. Jackson—bonus points for being closest to LeBron in age on this list. Big problem is that he’s just 5-foot-7. But hey, they’ve made Robin Williams look tall enough for a few decades now. Nothing a few stools and phonebooks can’t fix.
Laz Alonso—not a huge body of work, but he looks the part. We also know he looks great in blue body paint (or CGI-ed body paint…)
1. Will they re-enact ‘The Decision’ and the following Miami Heat Pep-Rally?! Sort of cheating because it technically fits under number 3, but my anticipation is so great that this question needed its own discussion.
Even with all the other accolades and championships that are likely to come LeBron’s way the rest of his career, these will always be a couple of smudges on his record. He knows he should have done things differently, but short of a return to Cleveland and some championship banners hanging from the Quicken Loans Arena, this is likely never to be totally forgiven.
It was a mistake. It was his mistake. He’s owned it and moved past it. But has Cleveland? It is still his home state. It will make for some pretty edge-of-your-seat television if the show is seeming to head in that direction. Imagine a cliffhanger episode that ends as the camera flicks on and the LeBron character is sitting across from some ESPN reporter? I’m getting chills just thinking about it. Even if everything else about the show is terrible (the likeliest scenario) we’d all still tune in for that episode.
Whatever happens on LeBron’s new show, I think we can all agree that the best thing about it will be that we’ll finally get to hear a little more about LeBron. To this point, reporting and details have been scant. Does ESPN even know who this guy is? We’re all ready for a little more LeBron.