No comparison between LeBron and Wild signings

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 5, 2012 - 11:22 PM

The Wild is exactly like the Heat. Except ...

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Comparing LeBron James (left, with Dwyane Wade) with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter just might be a stretch.

Photo: Lynne Sladky, Associated Press

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Twitter is a wonderful conduit through which to spew half-baked ideas that five minutes later sound as silly as Mike Tyson's falsetto.

When Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signed with the Wild on Wednesday, Twitter turned into a receptacle for one-liners about Minnesota becoming the Miami Heat of the NHL.

Which is exactly right. No better comparison can be made. The Wild is Heat on Ice.

Lake Minnetonka is exactly like South Beach. Except we lack 55-year-old sun worshippers wearing G-strings. A description that also fits some of the South Beach women.

The Wild is exactly like the Heat: A franchise featuring a star and a team executive who had won championships and wanted to win another immediately.

Parise is just like LeBron James. James left his hometown team for a glamorous destination and a shortcut to a title. The only difference between the two is that Parise left a team on the cusp of a title to come home and help a mediocre franchise that hasn't won a playoff series since 2003 gain respectability.

The comparison between James and Parise is particularly apt, because James is the best player in the world in his sport and Parise is a top-20 player who chose not to play with the best player in the world, Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby.

The most compelling reason to compare James and Parise is the way they handled their decisions. James worked with aggressively smarmy Jim Gray to conduct a one-hour television special that dragged out the announcement and led to James breaking Cleveland's heart in a way that indicated he didn't understand the impact of his words.

Then James and Chris Bosh flew to Miami and screamed and celebrated before ever winning a game together.

Parise, apparently, could not locate Gray. He met with reporters in Toronto when he didn't have to, was gracious when approached by reporters at the Minneapolis airport and conferred with his family at his home before making his decision.

Perhaps on Monday, during the Wild's introductory news conference, Parise and Suter will rip their shirts off and drink a few Fulton beers out of a fake Stanley Cup. But I doubt it.

The biggest difference between The Decision and Parise's decision is that James took the easy way out and Parise chose the path of maximum resistance.

James joined one of the best players in the NBA, in Dwyane Wade, and arrived with one of the best big men in the NBA, in Chris Bosh, to play for a team overseen by Pat Riley.

Parise could have signed with Pittsburgh and drafted behind Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He could have stayed in Jersey with Martin Brodeur and a team that almost won the Cup last season. He could have signed with one of the best organizations in hockey, in Detroit, or joined Jonathan Toews in Chicago.

That he chose Minnesota, for less money than he could have made elsewhere, makes this the rare free-agent signing that doesn't make you want to exfoliate.

Parise chose to play at home. He chose to take on the responsibility of becoming the best player on a team that requires a savior. He chose to sign for 13 years, meaning he may turn out to be more invested in the franchise than the current owner or general manager.

He's already done what Chuck Fletcher couldn't do in his first years on the job: Lure a prime free agent. Parise landed Suter for the Wild. Fletcher's biggest free-agent signing before this week was the regrettable Martin Havlat.

Before playing a single game with the Heat, James predicted he would win more than a half-dozen NBA titles. And he may. He's a great player who proved gracious in victory this summer.

Parise and Suter do not make the Wild instant favorites to win the Stanley Cup. What they do, instantly, is make the Xcel Energy Center a destination because of the jerseys on the ice, rather than those lining the walls. Finally, the building will no longer be the Wild's foremost star.

Jim Souhan can be heard Sundays from 10 a.m. to noon and weekdays at 2 p.m. on 1500-AM. His Twitter name is SouhanStrib. jsouhan@startribune.com

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