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.

Comments (19)

  1. No one really cares, or at least no one under 40 really cares, about the content of the article. We’ve all been there and said and done things that were less than savory. But that’s not the point of the hullabaloo; it’s two-fold:

    1) ESPN pulled the article, presumably under pressure from somebody. If it was all true (and we have no reason to believe it wasn’t), then they were not in risk of a libel suit. And that “it was posted to a server accidentally” stuff is suspect, and Dwyer said that given his experience with ESPN, it’s bogus. The truth of it is that LeBron is much more important to the suits at ESPN than he is to the editorial staff, and as a result, apparently, the suits will spike things like this.

    2) It speaks volumes about LeBron and his “team” that they’d let a reporter roll with them on the record for a night like this. I’m a nobody who doesn’t drink and I wouldn’t let a reporter follow me during a weekend in Vegas. Why? Because I might say or do something that I wouldn’t want to end up in print. That is to say, the content of the article isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things, but most of it is not stuff that you’d want reported about you anywhere.

    Those are the issues, as I see them.

  2. Good take, Holly. I maintain that the Chris Paul comment by Markazi was probably the issue, especially since it was unattributed. It was weird that he would put that out there without a quote to back it up. The whole thing was definitely blown out of proportion, but NBA fans are just clamoring for things to get worked up about in the off-season. What else are we supposed to talk about? Baseball?

  3. Wonderful commentary Holly, I totally agree with you. I read screen grabs of the article and didn’t see anything in there that may have been damaging to Lebrons image. In fact, the only thing I could see damaging in the article was how it portrayed Maverick Carter. Since he was the one who set this whole Vegas thing up as well as “The Decision” it seems Maverick is trying to milk this for everything its worth to try and make a name for himself. Lebron seems to just be going along with it and helping out his boy. So maybe I could see the suits at ESPN not wanting to upset Maverick, since he has Lebrons ear.

    Its a shame though, it was a well written piece by Arash and for me it made Lebron come off like a pretty regular, low-key (as low key as someone in Lebrons position can be that is) guy.

  4. It’s kind of tragic the article was pulled because I actually liked the article itself. Now it’s unfortunate that the conspiracy theorists will be out in full force; over-analyzing ESPN’s organizational doctrine and LRMR’s influence. I feel this serves as a small reminder to all of us that our world, our people are becoming increasingly subservient to business decisions. But I’m thankful for the internet; as without it articles like this would never see the light of day. It would honestly suck if news were still tethered to physical mediums. Are we spoiled or what?

    I’m not about to declare that I’m obsessed about the extravagant lifestyles of NBA superstars (quite the opposite in fact), but Markazi did a nice job of painting the traveling circus that is LeBron James. As for Lebron James being childish by pretending to dribble past stationary columns? I confess that I am 26 and still occasionally play the “tile” game at malls while nobody is watching.

  5. And by the way. People who watch league pass every night are not at the bottom of the social ladder. It could be worse. You could be a basement/cave dwelling MMO gamer nerd severely lacking in the hygiene and self-worth department.

  6. What was the line that you had to kill?

  7. wow, so the guy who loses the eastern championship and walks away without showing any sportsmanship like shaking hands, the guy who has nike destroy evidence of him being dunked on during a summer skills camp, the guy who didn’t will his team to win despite the hype (and the league’s best record 2 years in a row), the guy that embarassed and played out his hometown like a bunch of chumps on live TV….. he decides that an article written about him is derogatory and takes away from his image? Right, image of what? A king in emperor’s clothing. In name and hype only. The kind of king that takes his ball and goes home when he doesn’t get his way. Let’s also not forget ESPN, who’s hyped this kid since he was a jr in HS and caters to his every whim, like giving him airtime to announce his decision. Thanks ESPN for helping to make the paper king!

  8. “…shooting imaginary jumpshots and dodging man-made columns that become stationary Jose Calderon-like defenders.”
    Hahahaha.

  9. @MC Welk

    Looks like we’re never going to hear it because some jerks will take the wrong way. That kind of sucks.

    @Matt H

    If Miami starts winning championships all of those douchebaggy moves made by Lebron will fade into the background because a professional athletes’ image is formulated by the non-objectivity and stupidity of the masses. In other words, you will remember, but almost nobody will care.

  10. This is why I ♥ Stackmack. Instead of reading ESPN’s story, I know that Lebron’s Vegas trip was much ado about nothing.

  11. Marketing madness is trying to put these guys on the front page of every mag and website in the world. LeBron doesn’t want to be Jordan, he wants to be Lady Gaga. Good article that puts this infatuation with the guy’s tweets and personal life in perspective. Holly you are a pro. NBA media has done as much as anyone to promote scandal and focus on stars as opposed to TEAMS. I’m more interested in the collective than the individual and TBJ has always had a pretty sensible view of the game. I thought the Hedu skits were hilarious, but the Lebron skits with Matt lost me. Just a thought, how about focusing each week on a different divisions in the league instead of the major markets in massive repitition? The Knicks get way more ink than the Blazers, Nuggets or even Spurs. Have they earned it? Not in my view.

  12. totally agree with you Holly. People get so wrapped in sports hate

  13. Just a bro being a bro.

  14. But rumor has it that LeBron may have smiled, even laughed at least once or twice over the course of the night. This is outrageous!

  15. There is nothing more that the “25 year-old” could do than what he had done to himself through “the decision”. They should have pulled that out of the air. It doesn’t matter that the money made was for charity as ESPN failed to mention through the important part of the show up to “I’ve decided to take my talent to South Beach”. LRMR = Fail, literally. Too late to even wake up to that Lebron.

  16. Great post Holly. I don’t understand the fuss about bron making it rain in Tao though it’s kind of silly that espn pulled the article. I miss the days when it was about bball. All this hoopla is kind of annoying. But hey. At least Ron isn’t the most hated NBA player no more lol. Peace

  17. ^ FYI, That’s really Ron Artest’s brother. ^

  18. ESPN made a nonstory into a story by pulling the piece. Perhaps it was all part of the plan afterall. LeBron hadn’t been in the news for a couple of days so he needed something big out there in the media. Ha. Who knows? I liked all the comapisons to Caligula that arose because of this story. Standing on a couch and singing Rick Ross is quite the debaucherous lifestyle, isn’t it. LeBron has become the villian and so people will pick apart everything he does. Vegas is the perfect location for his detractors to zero in on.

  19. No one really cares, or at least no one under 40 really cares, about the content of the article. We’ve all been there and said and done things that were less than savory. But that’s not the point of the hullabaloo; it’s two-fold:

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