Shanoff's WUC: LeBron Sniff Test: Wins or $?

Today's Calls: LeBron vs. D-Wade, 2010 NBA Finals vs. 2008 NBA Finals, Joe West vs. Baseball, Stephen Strasburg vs. Bryce Harper, Joe Mauer vs. Derek Jeter, Urban Meyer vs. SEC Media, John Calipari vs. Basketball Media, More. ↵

↵The Opening Pitch: "I want to win." "Winning is the most important thing to me." There might not be a more disingenuous sentiment among the NBA's celebrated free agent class of 2010. ↵

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↵I'm mostly talking about LeBron and Wade, whose decisions will be the most important in the NBA this decade, but if any of those free agents really wanted to win more than anything, they would do one of two things: ↵

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↵(1) They would collude and get all of them to play on the same team, even if that means taking a big pay cut. ↵

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↵(2) They would hook up with Dwight Howard in Orlando, even if that means taking a big pay cut. ↵

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↵The common thread: If LeBron or Wade really wanted to win more than anything, he would do whatever it takes to put himself in a maximized position to win -- even if that meant a huge pay cut. ↵

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↵But he and Wade don't want to win more than anything. They want to get paid as much as possible FIRST. Then within that boundary, they will find the most likely place to win. ↵

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↵I don't begrudge money as a priority -- at all. It is a lot of money that we are talking about. Every one of them should make as much as they possibly can, if that's what they care about. ↵

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↵(That's what I loved about Charles Barkley. For all his lamentations about never winning a championship -- and I'm sure it is a regret -- he wasn't about to give up money to, say, sign with Jordan's Bulls for league minimum to finally win his ring. Joining the Rockets was kind of a pathetic half-baked attempt.) ↵

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↵What I object to is the swallowing whole of this line that they really want to win championships, above all. That is simply not true. ↵

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↵Because if they did, they would simply join forces -- yes, at a huge pay cut; enough to sign a bunch of other stars, too -- win 78 or 80 or 82 games a year and roll to a championship or half-dozen. ↵

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↵I hold out a naive hope that they do it. If they really want to make NBA history, picking winning over money would accomplish that. ↵

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↵LeBron Watch: Larry King? Really, King James? If you were an expert on the OJ trial back in 1994 -- maybe. As a would-be 21st century global kingpin, the venue seems a little ... stale. ↵

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↵Still: Though the interview won't air until Friday, the necessary platitudes were released yesterday, including LeBron saying that Cleveland has the inside edge "absolutely." ↵

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↵This might produce short-term warm-and-fuzzies from folks in Ohio, but it will only make his inevitable betrayal all the more acute. I guess LeBron figures that they'll hate him anyway, so why not enjoy the love a few weeks more. ↵

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↵Wade Watch: Speaking of warm-and-fuzzies, I wonder how much Dwyane in Chicago today will give him a sense that -- all money being roughly equally big -- he really would like to play in his hometown, in front of his kids. ↵

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↵NBA Finals: Why should you not call the 2010 Finals a rematch from 2008? Andrew Bynum, for one. Ron Artest, for another. Rajon Rondo going from "Hey, it's a Big Four!" to "Rondo Rules, and the Big Three just tag along." The only thing that might indicate that it is a rematch is the massive chip on the Lakers' shoulder from the '08 beat-down. ↵

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↵French Open: Roger Federer losing before the semifinals in a slam tournament in what feels like forever (really: 23 slams, which IS kind of forever) might just be the Upset of the Year in sports, even if no one is really paying attention. ↵

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↵MLB Talking Points: ↵

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↵• Hey, look! It's Joe West! ↵

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↵• NL Central See-Saw: Reds vault over Cardinals. ↵

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↵• NL East: Braves top Phils again. ↵

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↵• Walk-Off Watch: Kemp HR in 10th. ↵

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↵• Oswalt Trade: Would play for Nats. ↵

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↵• Your All-Star Leader: Mauer. ↵

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↵CFB Offseason: Urban Meyer did not have heart problems or exhaustion -- just "esophageal spasms," which should not be confused with your mere mortal coach's "choking." In fact, Urban seems better than ever. ↵

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↵Here is what is left unexamined: If stress from overwork had nothing to do with his earlier condition, it follows that his breakneck-intense coaching style wasn't detrimental to his health after all, so couldn't he continue it with no problems? ↵

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↵(Meanwhile: SEC Football Spring Meetings? Mmm, yes. More please.) ↵

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↵Kentucky hoops scandal: Interesting "Leave Cal alone!" backlash in the media from as seemingly disparate corners as SN hoops godfather Mike DeCourcy to SBNation's young lead columnist Andrew Sharp. (BTW: Their points are well-taken.) ↵

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↵NFL Offseason: Are you really surprised that Big Ben wouldn't talk to the media after Steelers practice? ↵

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↵Stanley Cup: Here's a new lesson -- don't break the bank for a goalie. ↵

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↵NHL Offseason: Don Fehr as the new head of the players union? What could go wrong? ↵

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↵MLB Draft: Bryce Harper Day is just a short week away -- between Strasburg's MLB debut, the Nats drafting Harper and the Wizards drafting John Wall, it's a big month for DC sports fans -- and the latest is that Harper's agent Scott Boras doesn't want him to catch. Being a catcher makes him more marketable (see Mauer, Joe), but it poses more risk than, say, being a right fielder. If he is a Human Hitting Machine (Gregg Jeffries 2.0!), let someone else catch and get him up to the majors already. ↵

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↵Media: Red Zone in the stadium? Sure, that's nice. But it only gets the channel in front of a tiny fraction of fans. Putting Red Zone on mobile -- which the NFL is doing -- will go a lot further to fans complaining to their local cable operator "I want my Red Zone!" (Either that, or fans will simply skip their cable company and watch it on their phone.) ↵

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↵Business: I love that the Marlins are selling unused tickets to Roy Halladay's perfect game to Phillies fans. $20? If I was a Phillies fan, I would buy one, if that sort of thing meant anything to me. (And if I was in attendance but used an online print-out ticket, I would totally buy one. You were at a perfect game, come on!) ↵

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↵The Last Word: The Big Lead makes big money in an acquisition by Fantasy Sports Ventures. Congrats to Jason McIntyre. When sports bloggers make millions, we all win. ↵

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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. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/danshanoff. ↵

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

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