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(David) Carter (executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC) said (LeBron) James’ move from a relatively small market in Cleveland to South Florida is akin to the 1988 NHL trade that sent Wayne Gretzky—hockey’s biggest star at the time—from Edmonton to Los Angeles, a move that gave the game new cachet in the United States and especially the Sun Belt.

-via Michael Wallace of the Miami Herald.

One big difference, Gretzky went to LA with multiple Cups, LeBron going to Miami without a championship.

Filed in: Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: lebron+james, wayne+gretzky


Guilherme's avatar

One big difference, Gretzky went to LA with multiple Cups, LeBron going to Miami without a championship.

Also, Gretzky went to LA to be the super-uber-master alpha dog/tiger/elephant and to “sell” hockey to the West, when LeBron flees to a decent NBA market with a recent title and an undisputed leader (which will sure lead to some clashes).

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 07/22/10 at 12:12 PM ET

Lindas1st's avatar


Posted by Lindas1st from New England on 07/22/10 at 12:47 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

This comparison is ridiculous.

This is not Edmonton to LA.  Not even close. 

According to some 2008 “TV Market” numbers Miami is the 16th largest TV market in the United States.  And the 17th market is…  You guessed it!  Cleveland!  Just because Cleveland is in the Midwest and Miami is the south doesn’t necessarily mean that Miami is some massive market and Cleveland is small potatoes.

LA is the second largest TV Market in the US, behind New York.  I have no idea where Edmonton would rank, but it has to be far, far off.  Not to mentiond the whole… Edmonton is in Canada thing.

People always seem to feel the need to make remarks like this any time anything happens.  This is the greatest performance ever!  This is the greatest game ever!  That was the greatest play ever!  This is a huge moment!  No one will ever forget this! 

Not everything has to be or, in fact, can be so momentous all of the time.

I am not saying that LeBron’s move is purely lateral.  Sure, Miami is a more exciting and “hip” locale than Cleveland.  And the whole “Three Amigos” thing will attract huge attention.  But this isn’t Gretzky going to LA.  Not in the slightest.

I am sorry, David Carter.  Please try again.

Posted by Ajax19 on 07/22/10 at 01:17 PM ET

AvsRock's avatar

Also, Gretzky didn’t want to go.  He was traded/sold to the Kings.

Posted by AvsRock from My timeshare in insanity... on 07/22/10 at 01:34 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

We’re still bitter. This is from down the street from my house. It’s not photoshopped.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/22/10 at 02:04 PM ET

UMFan's avatar

When the NBA decides to put teams in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Cuba, the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and a few other places where it probably shouldn’t be, in order to take full advantage of the popularity of Lebron, then I can maybe buy the arguement. Until then, no. Besides, as good as some people think Lebron is, he’s not the greatest basketball player to ever walk the planet. Gretzky was that great or was really close to it when he was traded.

Posted by UMFan from Denver, Colorado on 07/22/10 at 02:14 PM ET


I agree completely with Ajax—there’s no comparison between these moves.

The fact is, what matters most these days to a team/athlete’s popularity is how much they’re on the teevee, and it’s obvious that LeBron achieved a massive amount of hype over the years, specifically from ESPN.  The Cavs have consistently been on ESPN, TNT, and ABC the maximum number of times allowed, and we all know how ESPN has feted him ever since he was in high school. 

Gretzky didn’t have attention like that in the States; he was marooned in Canada—and not even in the eastern time zone!  Speaking as someone who grew up in the west and has lived in the east for much of the past decade, there’s no comparison when it comes to the public’s attention, except in the rarest of cases—and that case would be the L.A. Lakers.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 07/22/10 at 02:18 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

The only similarities is that the departure of the star has decimated the dollar value of the franchise as a whole. It would be a better comparison if Crosby left for the Sabres before he won a cup, burning bridges in Pittsburgh as he left. Of course, it’s still flawed in that he isn’t from Pittsburgh. James played for the local team he grew up near (even though he was a Bulls fan).

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 07/22/10 at 02:51 PM ET


Agreed, redxblack—at least in the contemporary North American sports world (which is all that really matters in this comparison, with the importance of media, etc.), there IS no comparison.  There hasn’t been a situation at all like LeBron, a player of his stature playing in his hometown, that it can be related to.  And of course that’s what makes it a shame.  But whatever—I’ve soured so much on the NBA in the past few years; when I moved out to Ohio I was like, Well, at least I can watch LeBron all the time.  But I can count on one hand the amount of times I watched any part of any Cavs game this year. 

I’m now thinking of the positives—when I’m trying to convince my girlfriend to come to Winking Lizard, I only have to contend with the Browns and OSU crowds, not Cavs crowds.

Posted by nosferatu from Albany, NY on 07/22/10 at 04:26 PM ET

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