#506de – LeBron/ESPN too Cozy

July 18, 2010 · Posted in Uncategorized 

It’s been several days but the bad taste lingers in my mouth.

I’m not talking about LeBron’s decision but the way that decision was transmitted to the world.  Like most of the sports-loving world, I watched LeBron James reveal his big decision on ESPN’s love-fest disguised as a news event.  I’ll leave it to sports columnists to comment on the actual move, its impact on the NBA, and the bitter gut-punch delivered to the city of Cleveland.

It’s the show that didn’t pass the smell test for me.  The self-proclaimed Worldwide Leader in Sports gave up its own turf.  There was no difference between the guy making news that night and the people supposedly covering it.  Jim Gray, the interviewer, is reportedly the one who actually set the whole thing up.   LeBron would get an entire hour with a creme-puff questioner–Gray–and no other journalists, especially from Cleveland, anywhere in sight.

Yes, it was nice that the advertising revenue from “The Decision” went to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.  That’s good cover for ESPN giving up control of their own show and ignoring their journalism instincts.  And yes, I understand that the E in ESPN is for Entertainment.  Still, ESPN is a news organization and this event was treated like a game show.

The suspense was artificially extended worse than any episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire (or in LeBron’s case a multi-gazillionaire).   Gray wasn’t so much an interviewer as part of Team LeBron, not just giving him a platform but helping him to look as good as possible at a controversial moment.

It’s just sports but it still doesn’t feel right.

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