Shanoff's Wake-Up Call: LeBron Takes NYC

Today's Calls: LeBron vs. New York, Donovan McNabb vs. Michael Vick, Texas vs. Notre Dame, Manu Ginobili vs. Larry Hughes, Ball State vs. Perfection, A.J. Burnett vs. Outsourcing to India, GM vs. Tiger Woods, Citigroup vs. Mets fans and more ... ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: Hey! Did you hear? LeBron is coming to New York! It's a done-deal! ↵

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↵In fact, forget 2010: LeBron will be in New York tonight. ↵

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↵He can try it all on for size -- the city, the fans, the Garden -- under the new reality that the Knicks have more than enough money to sign him (and probably an All-Star running mate) in the summer of 2010. ↵

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↵Tonight, expect to hear LeBron cheered by Knicks fans as if he was already one of their own. Expect LeBron -- whose every quote is parsed for hidden psychological subtext of an inclination to move or stay -- to play it for everything it is worth. Expect fans in Cleveland to freak, as they have for years. ↵

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↵There's a running complaint of weariness over the incessant speculation over LeBron high-tailing it from Cleveland to NYC. As someone who has been pushing that "LeBron-is-leaving!" meme basically since LeBron entered the NBA, I disagree: ↵

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↵For fans of teams out of contention, all they have is hope -- hope for the future, hope that their team has a plan to build. That's what was so aggravating to Knicks fans about the team recently -- not the losing itself, but the lack of a plan that the losing was in service of. ↵

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↵All Cavs fans should do is enjoy the now, enjoy it while LeBron lasts -- ask any fan of another team without a super-mega-marquee star like LeBron if they would like to change places for even a single season. ↵

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↵And all Knicks fans -- and any NBA fan who wants to enjoy the drama of rebuilding -- should do is stay focused on the future: When LeBron owns Manhattan, a Broadway show in previews tonight. ↵

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↵MNF: As far as NFL milestones go, Dan Marino's "5,084" is a biggie. That's the single-season record for passing yards he set in 1984, and Drew Brees is on pace this season to break it. Brees had his best game of the season yet: 20-of-26 passing for 323 yards, four touchdowns and zero interceptions en route to a franchise record-tying 51 points in a rout of the Packers. And, winners of 2 straight and a game over .500, the Saints are in the playoff hunt in the NFC. ↵

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↵Donovan McNabb NOT benched: He will start on Thanksgiving night, which says more about Andy Reid's misplaced sense of continuity (it couldn't be loyalty, could it?) and about Kevin Kolb's inability to take advantage of a gift-wrapped situation than it does about McNabb's immediate value as a starter. ↵

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↵Who will Michael Vick play for when he returns to the NFL? Note I say "when," not "if." (It's funny that the story linked here quotes Kansas City's Carl Peterson first, given that the Chiefs are one of the teams with enough QB concerns that Vick seems like a viable option to pursue.) ↵

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↵CBB Mania: It's Thanksgiving-week tournament time! In the night's biggest game, Syracuse proved the Orange, not Florida, is the team that should be ranked ... UConn throttled Wisconsin by 19 to win the Paradise Jam ... Wins by Texas and Notre Dame in Maui set up a HUGE UT-ND game tonight between top 10 teams with Final Four aspirations ... Stephen Curry Watch: 39 points (13-of-21 from the field) in a Davidson 'W' ... What about UNC so far should merit unanimous selection as the No. 1 team in the country this week? The Coaches' poll thrives on group-think. ↵

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↵NBA Instant History: The Rockets are hitting their stride, closing a three-game road sweep with a win in Miami to run their record to 10-5 (Yao: 28 points, 12 rebounds) ... Welcome back, Manu: 12 points in a Spurs 'W' ... Buzzer-beater FTW!: Larry Hughes ... Fantasy Stud: Chris Paul (14 points, 17 assists, 10 rebounds) ... Do the Knicks really care if Cuttino Mobley is damaged goods? Do they have to express concern to maintain the facade that this wasn't about signing LeBron in 2010? ↵

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↵Wizards fire Eddie Jordan: As a Wiz fan, I'm torn. The team was performing terribly under Jordan, but what was the guy going to do? His franchise player hasn't suited up all season, his starting center hasn't played all season either and the team can't play 'D.' (OK, maybe that last part IS his fault.) When everyone was healthy, the Eddie Jordan's Wizards were one of the best teams in the East. That's a rare "when," though. Shoals has a smart take on it.  ↵

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↵CFB Top 25: If it's mid-week, it must be Ball State and its weekly nationally televised game. No one can complain that the Cards haven't been given their fair first-hand evaluation in front of poll voters. Western Michigan is all that stands between BSU and a 12-0 regular season. (Pick: Ball State) ↵

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↵CFB Award Season: Can Tim Tebow win the Maxwell again? The award is sort of "Heisman-Lite," and he is up against Graham Harrell (not nearly as daunting as he looked a week ago) and Colt McCoy (not even as good as Sam Bradford). Don't let the Big 12 pinball numbers fool you: Tebow is the best of that trio. (Now: Is Tebow the best player in the country? Well, he won the Heisman a year ago and he's a better player this season.)  ↵

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↵More: My pick for Outland (OL/DL) is 'Bama's Andre Smith, in a squeaker of Ole Miss's Michael Oher ... Biletnikoff (Top WR): Michael Crabtree, in a squeaker over Jeremy Maclin (Huh? No Percy Harvin nomination?) ... Thorpe (Safety): Eric Berry, in a rare bright spot for Tennessee ... Walker (RB): Iowa's Shonn Greene deserves it most, even though Knowshon Moreno is the best RB in the country. ↵

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↵MLB Hot Stove: Who wants A.J. Burnett? The Braves emerge as a leading -- the leading? -- suitor. ↵

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↵Meanwhile, good news, Giants fans: You might NOT have just signed Edgar Renteria after all. You can come back out now.  ↵

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↵Want the most intriguing story of the Hot Stove season? The Pirates outsourcing their pitching to India (so to speak).  ↵

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↵Bonds Watch: Hey, a judge dismissed some of the Feds' charges against him. But he kept others. Are we ever going to get resolution on this thing? (Does anyone really care?)  ↵

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↵The Last Word: While we're talking about the Knicks spending hundreds of millions of dollars, it's ironic, because yesterday saw the "how will the economic collapse hit sports?" meme exploding:
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↵-- GM cancelled its endorsement deal with Tiger Woods. ↵

↵-- Citigroup came under fire for taking a government bailout -- but keeping its half-billion dollar stadium-naming deal with the Mets.  ↵
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↵-- A credit-rating agency calls the NFL "stable." (Yeah: Relying on the credit agencies is a FANTASTIC idea. They are part of the reason we're in this mess.)  ↵

↵Here's the reality: You can't ask the taxpayers for billions in handouts, then go spending on something as seemingly frivolous as celebrity endorsements and stadium naming. ↵

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↵It goes without saying that consumer-focused companies should continue to spend money trying to reach consumers, but let's be focused here: ↵

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↵Companies with sponsorship dollars geared toward young men should be spending -- profligately, I should add -- in the areas where they can reach them directly. Say, the "Your Sponsorship Here Wake-Up Call (Or Whatever You Want To Name It...It's Your Money)" sounds like a VERY smart investment. ↵

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↵Dan Shanoff writes The Wake-Up Call every weekday morning for SportingNews.com and blogs daily at DanShanoff.com. Got any comments, questions or feedback? Email Dan at shanofftsn-[at]-gmail-[dot]-com. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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