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LeBron, Melo decisions were good for business

Fans whoop it up behind an ESPN reporter

Fans whoop it up behind an ESPN reporter outside Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, after NBA basketball star LeBron James announced he would return to the Cleveland Cavaliers Friday, July 11, 2014. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan) Photo Credit: AP / Mark Duncan

LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony both cited hometown pride in making their long-awaited free agency decisions, and there is no reason not to believe that was a motivation.

But business is business, and James and Anthony took care of that part, too, not only in their own best interests but also for the bottom line of the NBA and its media partners.

Anthony took slightly less than the maximum allowable money to stay in New York, while at the same time saving the NBA, ESPN and TNT from the prospect of a lost 2014-15 season for the Knicks.

James reportedly signed only a two-year contract with the Cavaliers in anticipation of a rise in NBA revenues when it lands new TV contracts to replace the ones that expire after 2015-16.

The NBA is the biggest sports rights prize not currently locked up into the 2020s, so its cost will be astronomical. James' homecoming hype only can help.

In the shorter term, James’ return to Ohio figures to have a bit of an effect on the national TV schedule for the NBA.

Last regular season, the Heat appeared on ESPN, ABC or TNT a total of 25 times.

The Cavaliers? Once on ESPN and once on TNT, against the Knicks Jan. 30. The Knicks won by three points hours after an ESPN.com writer reported Cavs point guard Kyrie Irving privately had been telling people he wants out of Cleveland.

“There's just so much negative attention,’’ he said after that game.

LOL. Not anymore.

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