Five bells for James signing

Back in the old days of newspapers, there used to be a bell system from the Associated Press that would signify when a major event in the world was taking place.

Two or three bells on the teletype machine would be for events like crowning of a king or something like that.

Four bells could be signing of a peace accord in some faraway land or for the death of major rock star.

But five bells was reserved for major events like a royal wedding or perhaps the start of World War III.

So if the bell system was still in place (it isn’t) at AP, five bells surely would have sounded when LeBron James signed a 4-year contract with the Los Angeles Lakes over the weekend.

Now, that tells volumes about where our values have disappeared as a nation. All for a man who makes a very lucrative living putting a round ball into a steel hoop …. well, that tells you how far we’ve digressed.

Sure, James is a great player with a spot already reserved for him in the basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.

But five bells for a guy who has already abandoned Cleveland twice in his career?

It’s not like LeBron is going to make the once-proud Lakers an instant contender for a title. The NBA champion Golden State Warriors will have something to say about that. Bank on it.

The Lakers are a flawed franchise, with weaknesses that even a HOFer can’t fix right away.

And there’s an irritant already on hand in LA in Levar Ball, the troublesome father of budding superstar Lonzo Ball, who has yet to prove he’s a true pro talent.

This business of buying a title is nothing new in the world of sports.

The Lakers tried it a couple of decades ago when they brought in Karl Malone and Gary Payton to provide the difference. Malone and Payton were already past their prime and the experiment proved futile.

LeBron, who’s going on 33, has already played 14 seasons since signing out of high school.

The truth is that for all his skills, he’s not the same player he once was. Age has that way with mortals.

And even the budding signing of Kawhi Leonard from San Antonio won’t guarantee sudden success.

In LA —- a town famous for shattered dreams —- has visions of “Showtime” returning in the next year or so.

But I don’t see any Magic Johnsons, Kareem Abdul Jabbars or James Worthys on hand. All three are Hall of Famers, who also had plenty of help.

Even coaching legends like Red Auerbach or Pat Riley would face a giant job coaching this team to the next level. Much less a young Luke Walton.


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