Thursday, July 8, 2010

In which I lose Louis Gray's "feeling betrayed" challenge

I live in the Pacific time zone, and I timed my drive home Thursday evening so that I would be in my car at 6:00 pm, radio tuned to the Los Angeles ESPN radio station. I wanted to hear THE DECISION.

At 6:05 pm (according to my Google Voice logs), I received a phone call from a co-worker. Obviously not a basketball fan.

At 6:09 pm, I was off the phone, and the ESPN talking heads were still talking.

So anyways, eventually Jim Gray began talking to LeBron James and we all heard THE DECISION. James, with a heavy heart, decided to leave his home state Cleveland Cavaliers to seek a championship with the Miami Heat.

Thousands of miles away from Greenwich, Connecticut, Louis Gray began to draw a parallel with an event that occurred suddenly, last summer.

The first person to write a blog post of 400 words or more explaining how LeBron going to Miami was like FriendFeed going to Facebook... wins. P.S. We [the FriendFeed community] are Cleveland in this story. :)

The first person who entered the contest was Johnny Worthington, who did not meet Gray's 400-word minimum length.

The winner of the contest was Eric @ CStechcast, who met the length requirement.

Well, the post that you are reading - even if it had been written BEFORE Eric's - would not have won Gray's contest. Not because it's too short - I have a talent for being verbose - but because in my mind, the parallels between the two events are not quite perfect.

Oh, sure, there are some parallels between the two - most noticeably a feeling a betrayal by the spurned party. However, I believe that Cleveland's feeling of betrayal goes far beyond that felt by some FriendFeeders. Tony Bruno has shared an open letter to Cavaliers fans from majority owner Dan Gilbert - and, to put it mildly, he is not wishing James well.

As you now know, our former hero, who grew up in the very region that he deserted this evening, is no longer a Cleveland Cavalier.

This was announced with a several day, narcissistic, self-promotional build-up culminating with a national TV special of his "decision" unlike anything ever "witnessed" in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.

Gilbert already lost me at that point, not only because of the tone that he took when discussing someone who worked for him for seven years, but also because of his "liberal" use of "quotes" for no apparent "purpose" - something that makes him look like an illiterate "fool."

Anyway, Gilbert continued slamming James by name, and then brought out the big guns:

In the meantime, I want to make one statement to you tonight:


You can take it to the bank.

Uh, sure - the Bernie Madoff bank? While people are questioning whether the three-headed Heat can compete against the Lakers, at least it's in the realm of possibility to think that they could. I don't think anyone expects Cleveland to triumph over the Lakers next year - or even to make it to the Eastern Conference finals.

But back to FriendFeed. The problem that I have with Gray's analogy is that there is a major difference between the two.

When LeBron James goes to Miami, he will put on short pants, hold a round ball, sometimes pass it to other players, sometimes shoot it through a hoop. While there will be subtle differences between the way he played in Cleveland vs. the way he will play in Miami, James will pretty much be doing the same thing.

Not so with the ex-FriendFeeders. Take Bret Taylor, Facebook's new Chief Technology Officer. Not only is he responsible for managing the technologies that are used by hundreds of millions of people, but there is also a need to make sure that Facebook technologies play well with a variety of third party applications from different companies. Sure FriendFeed had to play nicely with dozens of services, but FriendFeed didn't have to integrate with complex apps such as Farmville.

In essence, we're talking about tasks that are orders of magnitude above anything that these people encountered at their former company. To draw the basketball analogy, it would be as if the future star of the Miami Heat had previously been a benchwarmer.

For the Los Angeles Clippers.

So I guess I've pretty much lost Louis Gray's contest. Now we'll see if the Miami Heat will lose the NBA Championship next year.

And no, although I live in the Los Angeles area, I'm not ready to anoint the Lakers as three-peat champions just yet.

For one thing, the Lakers often demonstrate a tendency to play down to the level of their competition, so the fact that the Suns and Jazz have been weakened doesn't really matter much.

For another thing, the term "three-peat" was coined by...current Cleveland Cavaliers coach Byron Scott. And, of course, the term has been trademarked by...current Miami Heat team president Pat Riley.
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