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What makes LeBron’s HBO hit show ‘The Shop’ must-watch TV

It’s no secret, LeBron is on his Hollywood steeze.

Alongside longtime manager Maverick Carter, the greatest basketball player living has amassed quite the list of development partnerships across the media landscape.

With a continuing steady stream of film and TV projects through SpringHill Entertainment, LeBron has managed to leverage partnership deals with every broadcast network, prestige cable outlet, and streaming service around.

Of these partnerships, the one he has with HBO has birthed something special for the culture: Uninterrupted’s new series on HBO, The Shop.

The Shop is pretty straightforward. It features LeBron, Maverick, and a different cast of guests, sitting around in a barber shop getting their haircuts and drinking wine.

They discuss a range of topics including sports, music, pop culture, world events, business and other cultural subjects with celebrities involved in sports and entertainment. The kicker is that these are the voices you’d want talking on these topics.

Two episodes in the books and the show have already made a splash.

On October 12th, long after the Drake/Pusha-T beef had settled, Drizzy first broke silence on the matter on The Shop’s second episode. Opening up about the Pusha-T beef, he says the Daytona went too far when he mentioned his terminally-ill friend and producer, 40. Drake got candid during the conversation saying,

“Rap purists and people who love confrontation, they love to say, ‘There’s no rules to this shit!’ There are fucking rules to this shit.”

No one expected Drake, no one expected that type of content or turnaround and no one expected LeBron to be in his interviewer bag like that. It shows how much of a pulse LeBron has on the culture and the cache of guest he can acquire.

Even OBJ got candid about being in the spotlight during his appearance on The Shop‘s first episode saying he sometimes feels like a “zoo animal,” and all of the pressure fame has brought him.

Being the figure he is, LeBron can not only curate some of the most interesting rooms but get people to speak about things they otherwise wouldn’t.

The Shop’s third episode is sure to be full of surprises as well with a talent line-up featuring Mary J. Blige, Lena Waithe, Nas, Jimmy Kimmel, Todd Gurley, Chris Bosh and Ice Cube.

The episode is set to debut next Friday, December 21st at 10 pm EST on HBO. Be sure you don’t miss it — who knows what LeBron is up to next!

The Western Conference is crazier than ever. How does it effect LeBron?

The Western Conference has the dominated NBA for the better part of the last two decades.

But, the recent trades of Paul George and Jimmy Butler to Western Conference teams could force a seismic shift that will force the NBA to recalibrate its playoff format.

Outside of the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics, eight of the top 10 teams in the NBA will play west of the Mississippi next season.

ESPN posted this graphic last night:

There has been talk for a number of years the NBA would adopt a new format in which the top 16 teams overall make the postseason. What would that mean for LeBron James?

LeBron has made the NBA each of the last seven seasons and it appears that streak will continue next year.

Going into the offseason there was some talk the Boston Celtics would make the requisite moves to land several stars that would allow them to compete with the Cavs.

But if the Celtics swing and miss on Gordon Hayward, they will be left with a stockpile full of assets and some nice young players.

Maybe GM Danny Ainge is playing for 2020 instead of 2018, waiting out the Warriors dynasty and then dominating the next decade.

So are we heading for a fourth straight Finals featuring the Warriors and Cavs? And if that match-up comes to fruition, could we reasonably expect a different outcome from last year?

Barring injuries on either side, it would appear the Warriors and Cavs will meet once again in the Finals.

With George off the trading block, it will be hard for the Cavs to improve their team enough to beat the Warriors four times in a seven- game series.

They were badly outplayed in the first two games and it took an historic effort in Game 4 to pull out one victory. Unless the Cavs can find a trading partner for Kevin Love and add some 3-and-D players, it will be difficult for the Cavs to compete.

Then, there’s this scary thought: the Warriors, coming off the best three-year stretch in NBA history, still have plenty of room for improvement.

Maybe the Dubs will feature more of that flex action and high screen-and-rolls they ran in the Finals or a defense with Durant at center to protect the rim and long wings to stop penetration.

One thing we know for sure: the Warriors won’t sweep the Western Conference playoffs again next year. There are too many good teams with multiple superstars for that to happen.

If the Spurs can find a suitor for LaMarcus Aldridge and land a second star, they have a legitimate chance to push the Warriors.

With the Warriors, Spurs, Thunder, Rockets and Wolves all patrolling the Western Conference, it would be very hard for LeBron to leave the comfy confines of the East.

For the foreseeable future he is guaranteed a fairly easy route the Finals year after year.

Why would he give that up to play on a Lakers team that could be years away from contending? If LeBron is interested in winning and not building his self-proclaimed media empire, he will re-up with the Cavs at the end of next season.

The NBA will be more exciting than ever next year, but in the East the Cavs and Celtics may be the only two teams that are watchable from night to night.

How social media and superteams made NBA free agency poppin’

‘Tis the season of side-eyed emojis, social media campaigns and banana boat field trips. Some NBA fans are convinced the drama that occurs in the summer is more exciting than the season itself.

And they might be right: NBA free agency has peaked over the last few years.

In 2014, sports media erupted when Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert used his private jet to meet with then free agent LeBron James in Miami.

In 2015, then Dallas Mavericks Forward Chandler Parsons and Los Angeles Clippers players sparred on Twitter over the recruitment of DeAndre Jordan, who agreed in principal to a deal with the Mavs, only to stab owner Mark Cuban in the back with a piece of fried chicken and re-up with his own personal Don King, Doc Rivers.

It all culminated in 2016, when teams flocked to The Hamptons to meet with Thunder forward Kevin Durant in an attempt to woo the 7-footer to sign with their team.

The Clippers leaned on his Olympic teammate Jordan. The Boston Celtics called on their city’s star power and brought New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz.

But in the end, the wisdom of Steve Kerr and the ability to play alongside not only great young players, but also a generational superstar in point guard Stephen Curry proved to be too much for KD to turn down. So, what will this year bring?

Not only are there a number of great players set to enter free agency on July 1, but there are several swingmen that appear to be on the trading block, including Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and banana boat member Carmelo Anthony.

Will Chris Paul take his talents to the Alamo to team with Gregg Popovich and Kawhi Leonard? Will Brad Stevens reunite with Gordon Hayward, a player he forged a deep relationship with at Butler University and came within inches of winning a National Championship?

Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford recently followed Gordon Hayward on Instagram, sending NBA Twitter into a frenzy. Not to mention Hayward’s wife posting a picture of their daughter wearing a “Go Green” shirt.

But the NBA revolves around one man from Northeast Ohio. The Cavs loss in five games to the Warriors must have stung LeBron.

He knows his team needs to retool but LeBron the GM goaded the Cavs into signing Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, and Iman Shumpert into above market deals, effectively locking his team into this roster and leaving them without many tradable assets that would allow them to compete with that team out in The Bay.

This NBA free agency period could reshape the NBA for the next decade and all the theatre that comes with it will be amazing for fans everywhere. There will surely be plenty of drama in the NBA, even without any games.