by Terrence Mayrose

There are a million different scenarios and things to consider when examining the biggest summer in basketball history that won’t involve a single jumper being taken. Everything from coaches, championship prospects, location, and, most importantly, money will play a role in the decisions of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade,Chris Bosh and company. It’s hard to know what will unfold and where each player will end up, (Despite what ESPN may want you to think), because only the players themselves really know where they will be inking their names come July 8th. While the final result may be hard to figure, comparing these guys to something isn’t…for me, anyway. It may seem odd, but the main pieces in this free agency period hold a striking resemblance to the cast of Saved By The Bell. Let me explain.

The Cast:

Dwyane Wade

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: Zack Morris

Zack was the kingpin of Bayside. The coolest and most popular kid on campus. He was the only high school kid EVER to have a cell phone in 1992. He could get himself into and out of huge trouble in a half hour span with no consequences. Oh, and did I mention he dated the prettiest girl in the school/state/on television…. Kelly Kapowski ? Face it. He ran the place. He knew it, the girls knew it, and Belding knew it.

Now you may think that if I’m comparing free agents to Saved by the Bell, and I mention Zack Morris than the comparison must be LeBron …right ? While James is the most appealing and intriguing  (we’ll get to his comparison later), D-Wade has the “kingpin” title because he has what LBJ doesn’t : A big, shiny ring on his finger. Which easily makes him the most coveted player on the board.

Wade  also holds another striking resemblance to Zack in this Free Agency sideshow: His recruitment of others. Zack was a full-time recruiter during his Bayside tenure. From scouting out 6’8″ beanpoles for a beach volleyball game, to convincing the gang to help him land a trip to Hawaii or rounding up money to fix Lisa’s mom’s car,  things usually worked out in the end for Zack (Would you expect anything else?) And, as impressive as he was at working/scheming alone, he was most powerful when he had the whole crew on his side. Enter D-Wade. He’s been pitching a dream team to anyone that will listen. He held the summit  to  pitch how great Miami is. He has the most winning experience. He’s convinced Miami to clear the ENTIRE roster to give this a chance to work financially. He’s the one mapping out how things should go because he knows that his reputation will make the others listen;just like Zack.  He’s got the most pull…it’s just a matter of whether the gang listens or not. Will they(LBJ,Bosh,Boozer,Amare or some combo of the 4) decide to join his side like the time they outsmarted the class ring salesman for a refund? Or, will they leave him high and dry  to sell friendship bracelets ? Only time will tell, but it seems pretty clear that, a lot like Zack, Wade is the most popular guy in school.

Joe Johnson

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: Tori Scott

Remember Tori ? She was the biker girl who got a full time role only because the producers were in a bind after they NBC ordered more episodes and Tiffany Amber Theissen (Kelly) and Elizabeth Berkley’s (Jessie)schedules couldn’t make the timing work. Plain and simple, her addition was one of the only real bad decisions at Bayside. She wasn’t overly pretty, wasn’t too funny, and she was on screen in place of Kelly; which is  never a good thing. Joe Johnson’s numbers (20.2 ppg,4.4 rpg,4.6 apg) last season are quite impressive, but as far as his being a key piece to an NBA championship, I just don’t see it. As a second option to an elite player like LeBron or Wade, Johnson is a more suitable fit. Atlanta has reportedly offered a max contract which would be a great temptation for him to stay. Playing along side Al Horford, Jamal Crawford and Josh Smith makes him a quality piece to a great cast…just like Tori.  My take is that Johnson waits it out to see where the top level players land before he makes a decision to join the same squad or stay put in Atlanta.

Chris Bosh

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: Samuel Screech Powers

Screech was Zack’s best buddy since birth, and while Zack did a lot to help him out (locking up a Russian chess stud, help boost his confidence to talk to his girlfriend Violet or persuade Lisa to be nicer to him) he also made him look like a fool(dress like an old lady to record the girls singing, dress like a hotdog on the beaches of The Malibu Sands, and making him camp out for U2 tickets). The crazy thing is that Screech went along with everything Zack said like he had drunk a gallon of the Morris Kool-Aid. Call it loyalty or call it pathetic but the main thing was that, where Zack went, Screech went. He knew it could only help him to follow in the footsteps of the cool kid. That’s how I see Chris Bosh…following in the footsteps of the cool kid.

The main thing to decide  is: Just who Bosh see’s as his Zack? I compared Wade to Zack based on his resume, but could you really argue with Bosh if he decided playing with LeBron ? LBJ did take two mediocre teams to the NBA Finals, and Eastern Conference Finals in ’07 and ’09 respectively.

Joining a player like Wade or James could be a dream for any player and Bosh is likely to have the opportunity to play alongside one of them. In fact I’m almost certain he will, because, since the beginning of this free agent process, Bosh has been talked about as the second max contract on many different teams. It’s rare that analysts have said he could be the key to a title, rather a great sidekick…much like Screech. It seems Bosh has been convinced of this and will be joining a Zack this summer.

Donald Sterling

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: Mr.Belding

Sterling may be the worst owner in the NBA and, sadly, he may be just as high on the list of worst people in the world. The stories of some of his antics(everything from evicting minority apartment renters to asking former head coach Paul Silas to save money by taping players’ ankles, himself ) are despicable  yet, somehow, Sterling thinks he has a shot at signing a top level player to come play for the Clippers;  reminding me of Mr. Richard Belding. The Bayside principal who always thought he could outsmart Zack but it never succeeded.  I have a feeling that, just like Belding had no shot at out-witting Zack, Sterling will learn he has no shot at landing LeBron, Wade, Bosh or anyone with the ability to sense a  bad guy when he sees one.

Amare Stoudemire/Carlos Boozer

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: AC Slater

These guys are grouped together, because they’re surprisingly similar. As far as talent, each brings a lot of what AC Slater brought: muscle. Boozer is 6’9 220 and Stoudemire is 6’10 250. Each can bring an excellent post presence to a team that is in the market to win right away.

AC and Zack worked well together, although they didn’t always see eye to eye. Slater was tight with Zack and they helped each other out when one guy needed it, (teaming up to convince Jessie to drop the caffeine pill addiction, or Zack helping Slater find a way to get out of the army), but Slater also tried to outshine Zack whenever he could(betting him he couldn’t keep up during Senior Cut Day, or throwing fists over who should win the affection of a new girl Joanna). Boozer and Amare have had a history of trying to venture out on their own. Boozer somewhat sideswiped the Cavs into letting him out of a deal in ’04 with a commitment to re-sign for a bigger deal than bolting like the Von Trapp family to Utah for more cash. Amare has been hoping to be dealt at each of the past two trade deadlines. What, exactly, does that say about how excited he is to stay in Phoenix ?

Boozer and Stoudemire would be a great addition to any team that gets their signature for a long term deal and, if they were a second max contract to a team that had already inked LeBron or Wade, they’d be even better. Yet it seems that given their past, they would each be the anti-Screech. Instead of realizing how great they could be with an elite player, they’ll choose to be Slater and journey out on their own. Their quality of play is not in question; it’s extremely high, it’s their toughness that seems to be a problem. How will each of them respond if things go bad again ? Will Boozer try to renegotiate in order to wiggle his way out ? Will Amare demand another trade ?  Time will tell.

LeBron James

Saved By The Bell cast member resemblance: Kelly Kapowski  

Kelly Kapowski. The most coveted girl at Bayside. Head Cheerleader….gorgeous…happy…athletic…gorgeous…nice…smart…funny…I said gorgeous right ? There wasn’t another girl like that before her and there won’t be one after her. She’s truly one of a kind. Sounds a lot like the way teams would describe LeBron James, the most coveted player on the market. He brings a game that won’t be replicated for awhile.

While I could go on for days about how pretty Kelly Kapowski is, and how impressive LeBron’s game is,each is cursed with the same flaw:questionable decision making.

Kelly had a lot going for her yet, through her time as a Bayside Tiger she pulled some real head-scratchers. Like bringing her infant brother to school to have the gang watch him & lose him at one point during the day, almost smoking pot with Johnny Dakota, breaking up with Zack for Jeff(I’ve personally never forgiven her for that one), crashing into lockers while letting an unlicensed Slater drive her around school halls in a golf cart, and agreeing to go to Senior Prom with Matt Wilson instead of Zack.

LeBron’s had a few eyebrow-raisers of his own going all the way  back to high school. The Hummer incident, (The SUV.  Get your mind out of the gutter.) and the throwback jersey incident, most notably. His pro career has constantly been under a microscope, especially after the Vogue cover issue, an excessive speeding ticket, refusing to  shake hands after being eliminated from the playoffs, confiscating the video of Jordan Crawford dunking on him and firing agent Aaron Goodwin for his high school friend, Maverick Carter.

As a girl who seems nearly perfect and a player with a near perfect game, Kelly and LeBron James are a lot alike in that they are highly unpredictable. Every time you think Kelly is going to get back on track and reunite with Zack she goes for a Jeff, and for each bunch of great decisions LBJ makes,  there’s a n incident like  him telling his mom to, “sit your ass down”, during a playoff game.

No other way to describe it. Unpredictability. Which takes us into the biggest week in basketball free agency. Where will the most coveted player in history decide to go ? Will he make the smart choice and jointhe best team (Chicago), will he remain loyal to Cleveland  or will he try to be the biggest thing on the planet by bolting to NY or NJ ?

Anyone who tells you they know  is either: wrong  or a lucky guesser.  It’s clear no one but LeBron truthfully knows because of one main reason: he’s unpredictable. I think he likes it that way.

Happy Free Agency !

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