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posted: 7/8/2010 12:01 AM

Critics of LeBron's TV show missing big picture

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Between games at the Orlando summer league Wednesday, Magic coach Stan Van Gundy took the opportunity to say he won't be watching the LeBron James Decision 2010 special.

"It's almost like a parody of itself this whole situation now," Van Gundy said, according to the Orlando Sentinel. "Come on, an hour long? It takes 15 seconds to say I've decided to stay in Cleveland, but we've got another 59 minutes and 45 seconds to, what? Promote LeBron James? As if we don't do that enough."

James has gotten some criticism for hyping the fact that he's a free agent, taking very public meetings with the six teams he's considering and now announcing his decision live on national cable television.

Sure, the TV show plan is a little different and definitely self-centric. But is it really such a bad idea?

Commissioner David Stern initialized the wildly successful strategy of marketing the NBA's superstars in the 1980s, and James is simply taking it to a new level.

There were accusations that James tried to hijack the Finals with his Larry King interview back in June. Really? The Finals with a Game 7 that drew the highest NBA ratings since 1998? Yeah, James thoroughly undermined that event, no question.

How many households will watch his decision Thursday? Thanks to some targeted news leaks, James and his associates have managed to make it seem as though every team he met with has a chance. OK, maybe not the Clippers. But the Bulls, Cavs, Heat, Knicks and Nets all have reason to tune in.

Let's face it, James' free-agent hoopla has been great for the NBA. It could carry over into next season when people wonder if LeBron's Bulls or LeBron's Knicks can knock off the Dwyane Wade-Chris Bosh combo, or prevent a Lakers three-peat.

On the critical side, Van Gundy mentioned Kobe Bryant and Kevin Durant as examples of players who quietly signed extensions without drawing attention to themselves. OK, Durant fits that description, but Van Gundy must have the attention span of a goldfish if he's suggesting Bryant as a shining example.

Has Van Gundy forgotten Bryant's summer of self-love, when he stood in a parking lot and whined about how the Lakers failed to deliver Jason Kidd to him? Bryant got some help, went back to winning titles and everything was fine.

So James knows the score: If he starts winning championships, he'll be a hero. If he doesn't win, he'll be ridiculed.

James should re-sign with the Cavaliers if that's what makes him happy. But he doesn't owe the sports fans of Northern Ohio anything. It's not his fault the Browns and Indians haven't won a title since 1964.

Just as Bryant demonstrated, James won't win without the right players around him. He should take advantage of this chance to land in the best spot.

If you don't care what he decides, change the channel.