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Wednesday (LeBron and ESPN) edition: Wha' Happened?

Posted by: Michael Rand under Sports Updated: July 7, 2010 - 12:52 PM

If you weren’t blown away by the absurdity of this year’s NBA free agency period before Tuesday night, well, ESPN and LeBron James have done you a favor by pushing you over the edge. Just feast your eyes on these paragraphs:

 
LeBron James is planning to announce the team with which he will sign during a one-hour special on ESPN Thursday night, ESPN The Magazine's Chris Broussard has learned through independent sources.
 
[A moment to digest: A simple press conference is not good enough. LeBron is so important that he needs his own one-hour special to tell the world where he will bounce and shoot a ball for the next few years. And ESPN is willing to give him that platform. And they are willing to break that news … through a related but “separate” entity, and via independent sources. Yeesh.]
 
ESPN would only confirm that active discussions for the special are ongoing. But sources tell Broussard that representatives for James contacted the network, proposing that James makes his announcement during a 9 p.m. ET special.
 
[So this was the idea of James and his handlers, so intoxicated by the publicity and hype that they need a crescendo. And again, “sources” are giving this ESPN-related story first to an ESPN-based reporter. But they can’t confirm. A gross reach for an extended news cycle. Pop in another headline when it becomes “official.” Media games].
 
Those sources said that James' representatives requested they be allowed to sell sponsorship for the one-hour special, with the proceeds going to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, and that ESPN agreed to the proposal but had not been told what James has decided.
 
[And now we’re supposed to feel less grossed out by this because it’s benefiting a very worthwhile organization. We’re certainly happy for the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. But the rest of it? Everything has a limit. And this is now past the limit].
 
Seriously, this off-season obsession is sending athletes and their reps deeper into a fantasy world. After the LeBron news “broke” last night, everyone within shouting distance of us (either on Twitter or the real world) was shaking their head (or typing in ALL CAPS in disgust in 140 characters or fewer). It’s just gross, manufactured and pre-packaged news cultivated in a sad Petri dish. And it’s the final straw that turned what could have been a genuinely intriguing NBA offseason into a “me. Me. MEEEEE!” spectacle of money-grabbing and self-importance that we no longer care about at all.
 
Why couldn’t they all just do it quietly like Kevin Durant – the old-fashioned way, on Twitter.
 
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Programming note: sorry about the server problems earlier.

 

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