MIAMI - In his first satellite interview with a female network correspondent from an evening newscast not employed by a cable company, basketball superstar LeBron James disclosed why he chose to play next season for the Miami Heat.
"At the Cleveland airport, I saw a headline that said RECORD HEAT," James told Katie Couric. "I assumed they were talking about me, and it was some kind of sign."
Couric fired back: "You mean you didn't know that temperatures were over 100 degrees in many sections of the East?"
James insisted it was "an honest mistake," explaining that he had been huddled with advisors day and night, and "we've got air conditioning in all the suites."
Asked if he might reconsider his plans in light of the mistake, James said he would have an announcement about that in a few days during a three-hour HBO LaBron-a-thon, "Decision II," to be hosted by Oprah Winfrey.
"The Heat was never going to be my only team, anyway," James told Couric. "My plans have always included the possibility that during the summer I could also play for the Yankees. I don't know a lot about baseball, but the Yankee organization has made me a very attractive offer. I only want to play with winners."
In the second hour of his live interview with the CBS anchor, James was asked how he felt about news reports showing fans in Cleveland burning his jersey.
"I huddled with my advisors about that," James said. "They assured me that we now have a line of highly flammable jerseys available at www.KingJames.com that are perfect for burning. They're made from recycled mattress covers in cribs that came from China."
Just as the third hour of the interview with Couric was beginning, James said that after exchanging text messages with his advisors during the commercial break, he was pleased to announce that he would be donating 10 percent of his payment from CBS to the LeBron James Foundation, which trains kids in how to negotiate, if ever offered big sports contracts.
"We're not paying you anything," Couric explained.
Upon hearing that, James and his advisors abruptly left the studio. CBS was forced to fill the remainder of the hour with highlights of an interview James recorded earlier in the day with noted sports reporter Chip Caray.
In the daytime, regional, cable exclusive with Caray, it was disclosed that James had seen a headline in Miami saying OIL ON FLORIDA BEACHES. James explained: "I thought if there's so much oil in Florida that it's just washing up on the beach, free for the taking, this must certainly be a great place to get rich."
James added, "Whatever happens, I'm always going to surround myself with winners."
Peter Funt writes about newspapers at www.FuntonFronts.com and is a writer and public speaker. He's also the long-time host of "Candid Camera." A collection of his DVDs is available at www.candidcamera.com. This column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc., newspaper syndicate.