I don’t know that it would be this crazy if Barack Obama were coming to Madison Square Garden. Outside MSG, the free hot dog stands have lines running around the block, and there has been at least one homeless dude announcing to everyone that the hot dogs are “Courtesy of LeBron.” The same guy happens to be holding a sign that reads, “Need money to get drunk so that women can take me home and molest me.”
If that isn’t crazy enough, listen to this. Seriously, hundreds of people wearing red “Witness” shirts flooded the block right in front of the entrance to the Garden, and stopped dead in their tracks, freezing in place for exactly 1:23 (didn’t know that ’til after we talked to one of ’em), and then threw a handful of red confetti in the air just as if they were LeBron clapping baby powder into the air.
Inside, there were close to 100 reporters in a specially designated multi-purpose room for LeBron before the game. Before he got in there, he took a minute to rib Boobie Gibson in the locker room. As he put on a compression Nike suit – the basketball equivalent to T.O.‘s nylon costume – he told the throngs of media surrounding him, “This is how a real man gets ready, none of that little boy shit … like him” as he pointed to Gibson. Boobie wasn’t sure whether he should laugh or cry.
In the press conference, NBC’s Bruce Beck – made famous during The Steph Interview – got right to it asking James if he’d like to play for the Knicks someday. In general, LeBron deflected any questions that could have been incriminating. But he did make one interesting comment.
When asked about the importance of winning, here’s what he said: “Look at a guy like Tim Duncan – he took a pay cut so that they could sign Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and the other guys on that team. For me, it’s all about winning – it’s not about the market.” But when a reporter asked to clarify whether he’d take a pay cut to play for a winning team, LBJ smiled, “I didn’t say that.”
But the fanfare really hasn’t even begun yet. We’re just starting to glimpse the celebrities spotted throughout MSG. Spike Lee is rocking the Zoom LeBron VI Big Apple Edition courtside. Hov and Beyonce are about ten seats away – and we can seriously see Beyonce’s earrings glimmering from across the arena. New York Giant Super Bowl champion David Tyree can’t even get a seat in the mezzanine this place is so packed – he’s up with the media.
LeBron has just started wowing the crowd during the pre-game with absurd dunks in the lay-up line. We’ll keep you posted on all the details….