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LeBron James is a no-show at The Venue in Clearwater




LeBron James is one of the 100 most famous people on Earth. We can agree on this, right?

Basketball is the world's second- or third-most popular team sport (behind soccer and cricket), and LeBron is, at worst, its third-most famous player (behind Kobe Bryant and possibly Yao Ming). 

So one wonders: Why, exactly, does he feel the need to host parties in Kansas City, Philadelphia, Miami and, on Thursday, The Venue in Clearwater? He doesn't need the money. Doesn't need to boost his Q rating. Doesn't need the hassle, frankly, of looking like he's partying too much off the court.

So, taking all that into consideration, it's probably no surprise LeBron skipped out on his planned appearance at Thursday's "Dawn of a Dynasty" party, where a smattering of fans had paid between $30 and $100 for the chance to party with the King.

Why didn't he show? Your guess is as good as ours, and promoters'. Organizers said LeBron was contracted to appear. Following the Miami Heat's game against the Atlanta Hawks, the team was to fly to Tampa for their preseason game against the Orlando Magic on Friday and check into a hotel, where a Rolls Royce would be waiting to bring LeBron to The Venue.

Never happened.

It's possible LeBron didn't want to show up after losing 98-89 to the Hawks (even though he did score 38 points). Probably a smart move. LeBron has already raised a few eyebrows for his party-hosting proclivities. And who would want Deadspin reporting you partied until 3 a.m. the night before a game -- and hours after a loss, to boot?

As promised, Miami DJ Irie did perform, and a few other athletes did pop in. Warrick Dunn walked the red carpet, and word is a few other Bucs were spotted in the VIP area.

But in the Venue's primo skybox, the bottles of Grey Goose and Hennessy that had been reserved for the King remained untouched.

It must be noted that this party was not exactly off the proverbial chain. It was far from a packed house, and only a minor smattering of media (including yours truly) turned out for the red carpet. This wasn't the case, when, say, The Situation came to The Venue in March.

Is The Situation a bigger draw than LeBron James? In Tampa Bay, where we can barely be counted on to support the Bucs or Rays, much less an out-of-town NBA player, that wouldn't surprise us.

People left the club and drifted away from the red carpet as the night wore on, with no sign of LeBron at 1:30, 2, 2:30 a.m.

This happens. Celebrities flake. Parties fall apart. LeBron is ephemeral; in a month, Tampa partiers will barely remember he was supposed to be here.

Still, we'd bet that that when the ball is tipped tonight at the Forum, a few more fans will be cheering for the Magic.

 -- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. Photo by Luis Santana, tbt*, of an original painting by Tampa artist Justyn Farano, who hung out all night on the red carpet in hopes that LeBron would see and sign the artwork. No such luck. 

[Last modified: Friday, October 22, 2010 11:41am]


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