Some rumors are too good to be true. Others are so bad, they don't even deserve to be mentioned (think Gloria James). But some rumors are just so damn audacious, pulling together so many moving parts, that you just have to stand back and applaud the effort.
Enter today's report from The Chicago Tribune, which has William "Worldwide Wes" Wesley shopping LeBron James and John Calipari as a package deal to teams courting the King in free agency. Is that something that's actually happening? Probably not. But is it plausible for all parties? See, that's why it's the perfect rumor...
Let's look at the principal characters here.
LEBRON JAMES is, theoretically, one of the only players with enough clout to make a demand like this with a straight face. He's also the guy who, minutes after losing Game 6 in Boston, sat at an interview podium talking about free agency, saying that he'll talk to his team and make the best decision possible. "Talk to my team" didn't refer to the Cavaliers sitting dejected in the locker room, but a "team" of financial advisors waiting for 'Bron. Does that sound like someone with the gall to demand the right to naming a new coach? Yes, actually. That sounds exactly right.
JOHN CALIPARI sort of speaks for himself. The other day he tweeted:
I want to address this with the Big Blue Nation one last time, I will be coaching at Kentucky next year. Now let's finish what we started!
But this is the problem for Big Blue Nation. There will never be a "one last time." The rumors never stop with Calipari, whether they're rumors of cheating, or rumors putting him as coach at some fantastic new destination. This is just what he does. It's not some coincidence. Rumors sometimes start out of thin air, but months and months of rumors generally stem from something of substance. Plus, he looks like this:
Would that man leave Kentucky for a huge payday in the NBA? Of course he would.
WILLIAM WESLEY adds another piece to the puzzle. You probably haven't heard of William Wesley. This partly by design. Because then, you can go Google him, and whatever you read will almost certainly start something like this: "You probably haven't heard of William Wesley... but he's one of the most powerful people in the entire NBA." How much power does he actually have? A lot, probably.
He's got the ear of LeBron James, which—given the expected climate over the next few months—might be good enough to land anyone on TIME's 100 Most Influential People List. Beyond that, he's close with just about every other superstar in the league, and certainly, that's gotta count for something. Can he sway front offices toward a coach? Who knows? Not very many people can speak with authority as to what "Worldwide Wes" actually does. And that makes him a perfect ingredient to any rumor.
We can't say he can sway front offices, but we can't say he can't. So much intrigue!
DESPERATE FRANCHISES EVERYWHERE play no small part in enabling this elaborate web to coalesce. For instance, the New York Knicks have basically forfeited the past two seasons in hopes of landing LeBron. If he said, "I'm not going anywhere without Calipari," you really think they'd balk? If the Bulls and Clippers—both looking for new head coaches—had the option, they'd do it in a second. Right?
Sadly, this is where we are now. There's no such thing as "stooping too low" once you've tanked two years in a row and cleared out half your roster to land one player. So of course, if you ask fans whether they could picture teams listening to William Wesley pitch LeBron-and-Calipari, it doesn't sound crazy. It makes perfect sense.
It doesn't matter whether it's true or not. Even if there's not one fact to corroborate what's going on, the people involved are so outsized, and the teams so theoretically desperate, that all bets are off. Even if you don't think something like this would ever happen, given the people involved, can you really say for sure?
And with all the media involved from Chicago, New York, L.A., Cleveland, and of course, the Worldwide Leader, imagine how much other baseless speculation will get spun into "big stories."
Engorged egos, teams fellating them, and media whoring all of it. WHERE 2010 HAPPENS.