Yesterday morning, the NBA world was momentarily flipped upside down when the news that ESPN had pulled a story staff writer Arash Markazi had written on LeBron James hit Twitter. Of course, being 2010, there were copies of the story in screen grab form, proving once again that when something goes live on the internet (cue the N.E.R.D. track), it never, ever really dies.
After reading the piece, it was tough to see what the pressing issues with the article were and how some thought it was a hit to the image James and his crew work so hard to manage. It was about a night in Las Vegas with LeBron James. Sure, there was alcohol, lots of money spent and an extravagant lifestyle that so many want and will never see (and one that some of us find a little too self-indulgent), but really, what was so damaging about the piece?
LeBron James is a 25 year-old man.
In Las Vegas.
At Tao, a Vegas hot spot.
On top of the world after pulling off perhaps the biggest, boldest move in NBA free agency history.
I was in Las Vegas last week, and trust me, the blogging men in their mid-20′s that I was rolling with were in no way, shape or form, balling like that and they had far more scandalous things to say than comments about women and their undergarments or lack thereof. Hell, I had worse to say. It’s Vegas. Sin City. Where sleep doesn’t happen, but shot after shot of Patron does. It’s not only normal to get messy, it’s almost expected.
And despite this, on the night when he is the man of the hour, the host with the most (money, at least), James ends the evening’s festivities by calmly leaving the nightclub when he is summoned by his manager, shooting imaginary jumpshots and dodging man-made columns that become stationary Jose Calderon-like defenders. Well, I’ll be damned. I might just be a bigger clubber than LeBron James.
Anyone who knows me and my stay-in-to-watch-league-pass-every-night-instead-of-having-a-real-social-life-with-real-people-in-real-life knows how ridiculous that last sentence is.
Seriously though, in our haste to find out who, what, when — and most importantly to our insatiable, info-hungry brains — why, let’s remember that this story really wasn’t about breaking news or deconstructing the image of James. An athlete goes to a club, pretty girls clamor, he celebrates, poses and then goes home, no harm done. Had the story remained online, it would have likely provided Twitter and water cooler conversations for the day and then, ultimately, should have been forgotten as we continue to find news in these dog days of the NBA offseason.
I don’t know why the story was pulled, but I kind of miss the days when guys were allowed to go out and be 25 without worrying about what it would do to their empire. And really, with the way his offseason has gone, being left with the image of him as a childish character rather than the prima-donna-y petulant caricature that we’ve seen in the immediate aftermath of his decision was a good thing.
A 25 year-old chilling with Jim Gray? Strange. A 25 year-old in Vegas enjoying his surroundings? Normal. Or, as normal as it can possibly get when you’re LeBron James.