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Attempting to cover all the hot topics

Posted by Tony Massarotti, Globe Staff  July 7, 2010 08:27 AM

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Hopping from one foot to the next because the ground is so darned hot …

LeBron James had this all orchestrated from the beginning, right down to the absurdity of a prime-time reality show that ESPN was all too eager to embrace. Like Brett Favre, James effectively owns ESPN anyway. At least now we know there is a formal business agreement between the world’s most self-indulgent network and its most self-absorbed star.

It’s official, folks. In this age of Facebook, Tweeting and personal, up-to-minute updates – Sitting on my deck – isn’t summer gr8? – the ice cream truck just went by! – LeBron is updating his web page via cable television. Who needs Twitter, anyway? Via your laptop or iPhone, all you need to do tomorrow night is to tune in to LBJTV. The proceeds may be going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, but do not be fooled. Ultimately, this is all about promoting the brands of King James and the marketing machine that is ESPN.

Really, does everything have to be a show now? Are we required to play these silly games of one-upmanship? When are we going to learn that people like James need more humility and less attention, at least until they do something entirely worthy of our praise.

Like winning a championship, for example.

Tyler Seguin currently is participating in the Bruins rookie development program, which is growing more and more ironic. The more you watch and listen to him, the less Seguin (pronounced like Reagan) seems like a rookie. The less he seems like an 18-year-old. Seguin looks more and more like the antidote to someone like LeBron, a young man who seems more interested in self-improvement that self-promotion.

So Taylor Hall has a three-year contract. So what? Seguin has that air of professionalism, of poise and tact that cannot help but make you wonder if he has the intangibles of a Patrice Bergeron, maybe even a Ray Bourque. The kid reeks of dignity. In the Hollywood production of the Hall-Seguin story, Val Kilmer would play Hall. Seguin would be played by a young Harrison Ford or maybe even Matt Damon, someone far more interested in substance than in flash.

"I’m not expecting anything," Seguin told reporters at development camp when asked about Hall’s new deal with the Oilers. "We’re in two different positions. He’s in Edmonton and I am in Boston here, where they have almost already a Stanley Cup contending team and [the Oilers] are rebuilding. So, I could get signed soon or I could get signed in two years. Really, I’m just coming in here trying to prove a point and earn a spot."

He added: "My philosophy all year has been to do my own thing and stay focused. … My goal is to come into these camps, make an impression, work my hardest, earn a spot, and be an impact player my rookie year. Obviously if that doesn’t work out, I’ll be disappointed, but it’s just adversity and I have to face it head on and go out there and keep improving in the OHL."

Don’t you already love this kid?

OK, I admit it. When Kevin Youkilis grabbed the back of his ankle while sitting on the Tropicana Field turf last night, I immediately thought it was an Achilles injury of some kind. That is just how things have been going for the Red Sox. The injuries obviously are starting to catch up with the Sox and, in the loss column, Boston could be three games behind Tampa Bay depending on the outcome tonight. The Sox will play the majority of their games this month both undermanned and on the road, which is a scary combination.

The Patriots are a mere 22 days from the official start of training camp, and this figures to be one of the more intriguing Patriots seasons in quite some time. I mean, what are the expectations for this team? The Pats have aging stars entering the final years of their contracts (Tom Brady, Randy Moss), an array of new, young players (Brandon Spikes, Devin McCourty) and, it seems, a brutally difficult schedule. There is Wes Welker’s rehab. There is Torry Holt. And, with the NFL labor issue in a state of flux, there is the feeling that this is very much a rebuilding year.

Or is it?

During his tenure as Pats coach, this is typically when Bill Belichick has done his best work. Typically, younger plays are far more malleable than veterans because they simply do not know any better. In 2010, Belichick does not have any Adalius Thomases or Shawn Springs to worry about. He just has a bunch of young guys who had better do things the way Bill wants them done or their careers in New England will be decidedly brief.

And so, in the end, doesn’t this really come down to whether the Patriots identified the right players in the April draft? And by that, we mean the players who can both learn and apply Belichick’s methods?

Pending the James announcement, the greatest free agent class in sports history thus far has been a relative dud. Amar’e Stoudamire went to the Knicks. According to ESPN, Chris Bosh is headed to Miami. Along with those announcements has come the news that Dwyane Wade, Paul Pierce, Joe Johnson, Dirk Nowitzki, Darko Milicic, Joe Johnson and Rudy Gay, among others, all have remained with their existing teams.

Of course, there are still free agents on the market, including Carlos Boozer, David Lee and Ray Allen. But if James ends up remaining in Cleveland, as many suspect, the NBA landscape really will not have changed that much despite all those forecasts of summer anarchy.

All of this brings us to the Chicago Bulls, who seemingly had the most to gain entering this market. Again, depending on James, the Bulls now may have the most to lose. And if LeBron stays in Cleveland, is that at all any reflection on Tom Thibodeau, the former Celtics assistant and new head coach of the Bulls?

Of course, for those answers and more, tune in tomorrow night.

Tony's Top 5

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5
The final chapter on Teixeira and How Red Sox pitchers work the strike zone Jan. 7, 2009 and July 17, 2009. Some actual reporting – an obsession with Mark Teixeira and the art of pitching.
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For 2011 Red Sox, there was plenty of blame to go around Oct. 1, 2011. The disgraceful collapse of the Red Sox stoked the fire in all of us.
3
Behind Garnett and James, Celtics and Heat are digging in June 4, 2012. Improbably, the Celtics pushed the Heat to the limit.
2
Thrill is back for Patriots Jan. 30, 2012. Another Super Bowl has even Bill Belichick musing.
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You’ve got to believe June 15, 2011. On the morning of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Finals, we all had reason to believe.
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Updated: Mar 1, 07:24 AM

About Mazz

Tony Massarotti is a Globe sportswriter and has been writing about sports in Boston for the last 19 years. A lifelong Bostonian, Massarotti graduated from Waltham High School and Tufts University. He was voted the Massachusetts Sportswriter of the Year by his peers in 2000 and 2008 and has been a finalist for the award on several other occasions. This blog won a 2008 EPpy award for "Best Sports Blog".

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