By Gregory Moore
DALLAS, Texas – Today may be July 8, 2010 but in the sports media world, it seems to be the date where a big decision will rock one city, set another city on its proverbial ear and send shock waves through a sports league.
At least that is what everyone who is involved in this circus tent wants you to believe.
ESPN has gotten suckered into making this their lead story and primetime showcase.
The National Basketball Association has been waiting with baited breath to see which way LeBron James will go so that they can get their marketing team ready to roll out whatever merchandise they may see coming.
The city of Miami is hoping that James’ decision means they have another title on the way while the cities of Akron and Cleveland brace for what can only be considered the death nail in an area where the last professional sports championship came in 1964.
And if you turn your television tuner to other channels or you are listening to any type of sports talk or even news talk on the radio dial, undoubtedly there will be pundits from all walks of life saying what a 25-year-old man should or should not do today.
One may think this is a great news story but in actuality it’s a media circus that has been created by the King James brand and it is bordering on bad media ethics.
I can’t fault the peeps over at ESPN for doing this.
Heck actually I can’t fault anyone who is in the sports talk biz for speaking on this.
But that is where this ends.
The problem with ESPN is that they are kind of in bed with James on this; even from the very beginning. While SportsCenter may be the ‘news’ arm of the company, shows like Mike and Mike, Scott Van Pelt and other shows coming from other opinion based shows out of the Bristol, Connecticut studios haven’t been on the up and up on news coverage.
James and his LBJ consortium knew this.
What’s worse is that James’ legacy as being the ‘greatest’ player in the NBA both on the court and off is now taking a serious hit.
What Maverick Carter and others do not realize is that broadcasting his decision on ESPN during a prime time viewing hour isn’t hurting your marketability of James; it’s hurting it.
Think of the greatest basketball player of this era or at least within the last 20 years.
Do you honestly think Michael Jordan would do what James is doing now?
Not when you are already considered one of the best in the world and people are buying your sneaks at $150 a pair.
And that’s the formula that James and his people simply did not follow.
What made Jordan so ‘adorable’ to us was the fact that he wasn’t that much of a show ma off the court.
Yes he had a press conference when he ‘retired’ from the NBA for a few years but when he came back, he and his agent crafted just a two word announcement: “I’m Back.”
Sure Nike came up with the Morris Blackmon commercial in which Spike Lee talked about “Money” dropping a double nickel on his beloved Knicks. But the point is that when Jordan came back, there was not long, drawn out process on the decision. There was a lot of speculation but Jordan didn’t fuel it.
There in lies the problem with this decision.
Instead of James ‘being the news’, he made the news. He fabricated its headlines and formed up the story lines.
Ethically I think that not only is this wrong but it goes against everything that true journalism should be about; even sports journalism.
James and company may be headed to Miami today.
Heck he may decide to stay in Cleveland or head over to the Windy City.
But that is no longer going to be the story.
It would have been the story if Carter didn’t contact ESPN and pitch to the head honchos this idea of making his buddy and client the focal point of a lead story in throws of summer.
And while I may think that ESPN should have said thanks but no thanks, again I can’t fault them for not being able to broadcast it; no matter how unethical I think it may be.
The problem is that what James has done is create the media circus he said he didn’t want when the courtship for a new team began.
In actuality what he wanted was to be able to be the ring master in this media circus and that is exactly what this is; a media circus.
For someone who said he wasn’t about all the attention, this orchestration shows that not only is James about himself but he isn’t about winning titles.
Unlike MJ, LBJ has shown his true colors of being an opportunist and that may backfire big time if all of this manipulation does not yield a title in five years or less.
If that happens then what LeBron James will be known for is just another Hall of Fame basketball player who couldn’t deliver the goods on a championship.
This big decision will be then looked at as the big bust and where will Maverick Carter and company be then?
With the proverbial egg all over their face.