I was fairly appalled by the ESPN program on Thursday evening called “The Decision,” a one-hour, prime-time special concocted by LeBron James to announce his Free Agency decision, and welcomed by the four-letter network with open arms. The following are my thoughts on this spectacle as it relates to both LeBron and ESPN.
LeBron – The “King’s” decision to make his announcement during a one-hour special on ESPN is the epitome of Narcissism and Ego that is rampant in professional sports. How “me” focused do you have to be to call a TV network and tell them you want your own prime-time special to make an announcement regarding which team you have selected. It doesn’t matter to me that the Ad revenue is being given to the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, because there are many, many other ways to raise money for charitable organizations that do not involve a prime-time special. In one hour, LeBron went from a player who was almost universally praised for his knowledge and respect of the game, his demeanor with the media, and his professionalism off the court to someone who can now be lumped in with Terrell Owens as wanting nothing but to just “Love me some me!”
This self-centeredness is even further amplified by the revelation that his former team, the Cavaliers, found out about his decision during the telecast. This is shocking, even for a professional athlete. What is not shocking is the Cleveland fan’s outrage over the way the announcement came down, or LeBron’s lack of emotion regarding leaving his hometown team. (What is shocking is the “Open Letter” from the Cavaliers’ owner, but that is for another post on another day) If you listened to the interviews, you could tell it was ALL about him. How many times did he refer to himself in the third person or refer to HIS talents.
More than any other professional league, The NBA is driven by it’s “Stars,” and it is this type of behavior that makes me want to turn the channel away from these personalities. I have no beef with the decision itself, but he handled it about as badly as possible.
ESPN – While this is not a new trend, “The Decision” marks the final leap of ESPN from Sports NEWS to Sports ENTERTAINMENT. I guess this is appropriate since the “E” stands for “Entertainment. Instead of covering the story, ESPN sold it’s soul for the right to be part of the story. All day today, sports personalities from talk-show hosts, to former players, to coaches, etc. have been openly critical of the way LeBron and ESPN handled everything. However, turning over to ESPN TV or Radio, you come away with a completely different slant. Why? Because they were part of it. If they are critical of the event, then they have to be critical of themselves. This isn’t journalism. This isn’t covering the story. This is the story! What little, tiny shred of journalistic integrity remained at the four-letter network is now gone.
Well, that’s my two-cents….what do you think?