The panoramic view of the Miami Heat's free agency has been interesting to watch from all angles. Sports agents lie anonymously to manipulate reporters and inflate the dollars market. Under-pressure journalists look for ways to fill the void with something, anything. Rival executives won't attach their names to information but whisper convenient stuff that plays defense against Miami's free-agent chances by creating a perception of uncertainty. It is speculation and mystery and hope and espionage masquerading as news. It is also not unlike how high school students might gossip about the popular kids.
LeBron James caught a lot of flak for creating a television show around this fun spectacle four years ago. But we are in the middle of showing you that we'll create this programming with or without his help.
Nobody from the Heat, meanwhile, has uttered so much as a public syllable since the start of free agency. Miami is one of the most private organizations anywhere in sports, with precious few leaks, and Pat Riley is surrounded by loyalists and lifers. So the feces storm gathers strength around Miami's silence, in spite of it, because of it, and the three very famous Heat players have grown so comfortable with this noisy nonsense that they literally vacation right in the middle of it.
Maybe the first night or first week you can't sleep if the car alarm keeps going off outside your window. But you'll sleep fine after it has been in your life every night nonstop for four straight years.
The words we have from them before this all started? That information doesn't seem to matter right now, not when cracks and mystery can be perceived, and we can fill the holes where the nonexistent information would go with anonymous hypotheticals that are less boring and intriguing than the three players just returning to Miami as planned. Facts? On-the-record information? Ehhhh, whatever. Sports are just the soap operas that males are comfortable admitting they watch. Cue the dramatic music, and let's go out in search of the sexy and sinister, even if we don't have proof.
So it doesn't matter that Heat owner Micky Arison put the chances of retaining the Big Three at "100 percent." Doesn't matter that Chris Bosh said publicly again and again that he'd play in Miami, and only Miami, for a discount. Doesn't matter that they, you know, put their names on that. Doesn't even matter that Dwyane Wade opted out of $42 million guaranteed dollars he wasn't going to get elsewhere as confirmation that he's working to help the team create flexibility, and Udonis Haslem again risked millions out of loyalty to Miami for the same reason.
All that matters now is what LeBron James hasn't said, because that's where we can invent the cracks -- even if it means James would kind of be betraying the people who did these things with and for him, and won championships (plural) doing them with and for him before.