Super-agent Ari Emanuel gave us LeBron James decision show, and he wants to see it again

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Thumbnail image for lebron_decision.jpgBacklash? Who cares?

LeBron James’ “The Decision” got killer ratings and is a blueprint for the future if you ask Ari Emanuel. And if you don’t know who he is you don’t read the Hollywood trades — he is a super agent. William Morris Endeavor Entertainment. Watch Entourage? The Ari Gold character is partially based on him. He is a true power broker in the entertainment industry.

If he wants to see more of these, you will see more of these.

A fascinating story in Ad Age Monday includes an interview with Emanuel telling us how “The Decision” came together with Emanuel help pushing it.

It began when Mr. Emanuel was sitting with media mogul David Geffen at an NBA Finals game in Los Angeles last month and was approached by Mr. James’ business manager, Maverick Carter, and Mr. (Jim) Gray. The group talked about how best to announce Mr. James’ team choice and settled on the concept of a TV show.

We knew from other reports that Gray had been in on this from the start. He had helped come up with the idea of a television show. So they started pitching the idea and ESPN was interested.

But the egofest that was the July 8 show almost was worse. It was almost an entire night of ESPN ego stroking.

The plan was then to have Mr. James make his announcement in a special on ESPN on July 14, prior to the network’s annual ESPY awards show. After the announcement of where he would play next season and the conclusion of the one-hour show, Mr. James would then walk onstage during the live telecast of the 18th annual event from Los Angeles and present the night’s first award.

I just threw up in my mouth a little. Fortunately, the timing of the NBA free agency period didn’t match up — too many contracts would be in place by the 14th, teams would have made plans. Plus, we all already pretty much knew it was Miami before the pick was announced, six days later and there would have been far less suspense.

As for the media and public backlash on egopaloza? Emanuel does not care, he think it worked just fine.

“Everybody can say what they want — it was the wrong decision, there was too much hoopla, whatever — but for me it was about doing the event, getting the advertisers to participate and doing it for charity,” Mr. Emanuel said. “This was a major success for advertisers, and we’re getting closer to pushing the needle on advertiser-content programming.”

Great. Just great.

Emanuel got the ratings he wanted. These were big numbers. In his mind that justifies another one. And the image of the athlete? Whatever.

Kings’ new arena to be on street named after David Stern

SACRAMENTO, CA - OCTOBER 30:  NBA Commissioner David Stern received the key to the city from former NBA player and now Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson during an NBA gam between the Denver Nuggets and Sacramento Kings at Sleep Train Arena on October 30, 2013 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
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Former NBA commissioner David Stern pitted Sacramento and Seattle against each other. Sacramento made a more lucrative offer, so it kept the Kings.

For that, the Kings are honoring Stern.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings will announce Tuesday that they are naming the street leading to the front door of the new downtown arena in honor of former NBA Commissioner David Stern, whose persistent, decades-long efforts helped keep the franchise in Sacramento.

Officially, the address of the Golden 1 Center – to be submitted to the city Tuesday for approval – is 500 David J. Stern Walk.

“When I learned we would have the option of naming the road, it was a no-brainer for me,” Kings principal owner Vivek Ranadive told The Sacramento Bee on Monday. “There were no other names on my list. David took the NBA to the global level and started the WNBA, but he is about so much more than basketball. He is one of the greatest leaders in the world, and on top of that, the team would not be in Sacramento without David Stern.”

OK.

Michael Jordan made a big philanthropic donation, but don’t confuse it with a political stand

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Dave Zirin is one of my favorite twitter follows and a great writer on the intersection of sports and politics for The Nation (and his podcasts are fantastic).

Speaking with Dan Patrick Tuesday (video above) he hit the nail on the head with Michael Jordan’s $2 million donation Monday — it was a great bit of philanthropy, but it wasn’t political. Jordan said he could no longer try to stay silent on racial issues, but he didn’t take a side, he didn’t make a donation to Black Lives Matter or any other movement pushing for one side or the other in this debate. He put money into trying to build a bridge between police and poorer, minority communities. That’s a good thing, but it’s not a political stance (there is no “anti better police relations” movement).

Jordan should be congratulated for what he did, but we have graded Jordan’s “political” action on a curve because he doesn’t make political moves.

Report: Victor Oladipo seeking max contract extension from Thunder

ORLANDO, FL - JANUARY 22:  Victor Oladipo waits for a free throw during the game against the Charlotte Hornets at Amway Center on January 22, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
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The Thunder dealt with the Magic to get Victor Oladipo.

Now, it’s time to negotiate with Oladipo, who’s eligible for a rookie-scale contract extension.

How much does he want?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

(for now) seeking the maximum salary, sources say.

Why shouldn’t he?

C.J. McCollum just got a max extension, and while I’d prefer McCollum over Oladipo, their value is comparable. McCollum is a superior shooter, but Oladipo is more advanced defensively. Two factors working in McCollum’s favor — youth and a shortage of good shooting guards in the NBA — also apply to Oladipo.

Perhaps, the max rules kept McCollum from earning more. Even if he’s not quite as valuable as McCollum, Oladipo still might deserve the max. That’s a pitfall (feature?) of the system.

But a difference between the Trail Blazers’ and Thunder’s cap outlooks could be key.

If he doesn’t sign an extension, Oladipo will count $13,105,921 against the cap to begin next offseason. Oklahoma City can hold him at that number, use its other cap space then exceed the cap to re-sign him with Bird Rights.

If he signs an extension, he’ll count all offseason at his 2017-18 salary — which is projected to have a max of about $24 million.

Because Oklahoma City is more likely than Portland to have 2017 cap space, that difference matters considerably. The Thunder could use an extra $11 million of flexibility, especially as they handle Russell Westbrook‘s free agency.

Oladipo almost certainly won’t sign an extension that starts at less than his $13,105,921 cap hold. So, any extension will cut into the Thunder’s 2017 space. But he could take enough of a discount to make it worth their while over the life of the deal.

There’s plenty of time for compromise. Oladipo’s extension deadline is Oct. 31.

For now, Oladipo should keep asking for the biggest payday.

Report: Warriors center Anderson Varejao likely out for Olympics

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31: Dan Clark #13 of Great Britain shoots over Anderson Varejao #11 of Brazil in the Men's Basketball Preliminary Round match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Basketball Arena on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Warriors center Anderson Varejao left his native Brazil to have his back examined in the United States before the Rio Olympics.

The prognosis doesn’t sound good.

Marc Stein of ESPN:

That’s a bummer for Varejao, who was clearly looking forward to playing in his home Olympics. At least Brazil still has plenty of talent — including Nene, Leandro Barbosa, Raul Neto and Marcelo Huertas — to compete for a medal.

The Warriors certainly hope Varejao heals in time for the season. They might have to depend on him to back up Zaza Pachulia if rookie Damian Jones isn’t ready and they want to limit the pounding Draymond Green takes at center.