LeBron James to Finally Unveil His NBA Team 'Decision'

The mania surrounding James' decision recalls the 2008 'Veepstakes.'

ByABC News
July 7, 2010, 4:06 PM

July 8, 2010 -- The suspense has been building for weeks but tonight the world will finally know where Cleveland Cavaliers forward and now free agent LeBron James will play basketball this season.

James will announce his team selection in a live special on ESPN tonight at 9 p.m. ET.

ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard reported that James' representatives contacted the sports network with the idea of a special for the free agent's announcement with the plan that the network and James' associates would sell sponsorship for the broadcast.

James' business manager, Maverick Carter, said in a statement on www.lebronjames.com that they went this route "due to the unprecedented attention and interest surrounding LeBron's decision."

All of the proceeds from the hour special will go to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and James is expected to make his announcement within the first 10 minutes of the special, ESPN said on Wednesday.

With all the speculation, analysis, reading of tea leaves and countless claims of "insider" information, so far everyone is in the same boat -- out of the loop and not yet knowing what James' final decision will be.

Early Thursday morning, ESPN's Broussard reported that James was "leaning" toward signing a contract with the Miami Heat but there was a caveat that that was "barring a late change of heart" and "it's possible James could alter his decision."

Sports writers said if the goal was to make all of America pay attention to the decision of one free agent, it is working.

"This is more than people have talked about LeBron James ever," said Will Leitch, founder of the sports web site Deadspin.com and a contributing editor for New York Magazine. "There is no other athlete frankly in any sport that could conceivably have an hour show deciding where he was going to go on ESPN."

Leitch said Team LeBron has been "masterful" in figuring out how to "harness the hype" and maximize the publicity and attention in every possible way.

"One of the great things about hype is that it feeds on itself. Complaining about the hype just feeds into it and makes it that much more," Leitch said. "There's a lot for a guy who's just going to say, 'I'm going here."

Robert Thompson, professor and the founding director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University, said the closest thing he can compare it to is an infomercial.

"For all I know there is going to be dancing girls and Billy Crystal will open with a Hollywood-themed song montage," he said.

In addition to the announcement on ESPN tonight, Team LeBron has started to dabble in social media. This week James joined Twitter for the first time and within hours had a quarter of a million followers -- without sending a single message. He finally weighed in on the social networking tool by simply directing his fans to his website.