Friday, April 19, 2019

MEDIA IN FULL COURT PRESS ON LEBRON

July 9, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

In what USA Today described as “one of the most hyped decisions in recent NBA history,” LeBron James appeared on a one-hour ESPN special called “The Decision” to announce that he is quitting the Cleveland Cavaliers and joining the Miami Heat. In an hour that could be summed up as, “It’s not how you play the game, it’s all about winning,” James repeatedly said that his decision was based on the belief that by joining forces with the other talented members of the Heat he would be able to help lead the team to an NBA championship. ESPN carried the announcement exclusively in a deal with James in which it agreed to turn all advertiser revenue to him. (James said that he would donate the money to charity.) But the deal was excoriated by several critics. New York Daily News TV critic David Hinkley wrote, “In reality, by giving LeBron all its ad revenue for that hour in return for his presence, ESPN handed LeBron 60 minutes of prime time to say one word. The name of the team with which he will play basketball next season.” The rest of the program, he said, “was promotion for LeBron and brand enhancement for ESPN.” But some writers suggested that the promotion could backfire. Advertising Age observed, “He’s spent years developing a spotless and humble reputation, so the show smacks of showboating overkill.” Daily Variety asked facetiously, “What’s next: The 24-hour LeBron James Network?” Although “The Decision” looked like a typical ESPN special, it lacked any negative appraisal of the decision. That impression, some observers noted, could have been avoided had the Disney-owned network stuck to journalistic protocol and, say, included an interview with Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, who lambasted LeBron in a statement Thursday night that called the ESPN special “unlike anything ever witnessed in the history of sports and probably the history of entertainment.” It all amounted to a “shameful display of selfishness” and a “cowardly betrayal,” said Gilbert.